In the annals of patent abuse, this looks like a good one. TechCrunch reports that the stock of Israeli public company Netex has skyrocketed, thanks to a patent that could have Google, Microsoft and Yahoo scrambling to pay licensing fees. Or the companies could stand their ground and force Netex into a very expensive patent prosecution action.
The patent, filed Dec. 8, 2008, describes a system in which users type in a string into a browser's URL field and get back the appropriate webpage, as in "google news" returns "http://news.google.com."
26-year-old CEO Aviv Refuah has big plans for the patent, now that he's got the U.S. Patent Office to issue it. He tells Ynetnews:
We are entering the American market and we will try to make the most of our patent, but it's still too soon to discuss it. We've been waiting for this patent for 10 years and the goal was to get in the US. Now that we've received the approval I have a good feeling, but there is a lot more to do in order to realize the potential.
It seems amazing that no prior art exists on this thing, or that it would be considered non-obvious. Perhaps a court case could further weaken the ability of patent holders to extract millions based on such "good ideas."