New York-based Vringo has sued Microsoft over two patents that pertain to the ranking and placement of ads in search results. The patents were originally issued in the early ’90s and owned for a long time by Lycos, which later sold them.
They wound up at Vringo, a company that sells video ringtones for mobile phones. The company’s real business however is patent litigation. One of the inventors of the two patents (Andrew Lang) is now CTO and president of Vringo.
Last year, Vringo successfully sued Google, AOL, Gannett, IAC and Target in Virginia state court using the same patents. The jury awarded roughly $30 million against the defendants collectively with Google being asked to pay $15.8 million.
Vringo’s attorneys were originally seeking nearly $700 million in damages. The company also sought ongoing royalty payments against Google. Google fought (or is fighting) the ongoing royalty and has sought re-examination of the two patents in question by the USPTO.
Microsoft is now being sued using the identical patents and theories. (The actual plaintiff in the case is a Vringo subsidiary called I/P engine.) However in a bid to increase the potential value of the case the plaintiff claims that Microsoft’s infringement is willful. That would enable the company to ask for punitive (triple) damages.
Below is a copy of the complaint against Microsoft.