Digital Envoy Says Google Went Too Far

Rhett Pardon
ATLANTA – Artificial intelligence firm Digital Envoy has filed suit against Google, alleging the search engine giant on its own expanded its licensing agreement of a program called AdSense.

Norcross, Ga.’s Digital Envoy Inc. accuses Google Inc. of unfair business practices and misappropriation of trade secrets from technology that targets ads to specific users.

In its complaint filed in Atlanta on Monday, Digital Envoy said that Google signed an agreement to use its database and related software in November 2000. Digital Envoy’s technology provides information about the city where a given visitor to a website lives and their connection speed to the Internet.

The technology is designed to target web advertisements to users, based on information such as where they live.

Digital Envoy said that Google began using its technology improperly when it began selling such targeted advertisements for other sites, through a program called AdSense.

Digital Envoy said in the complaint that Google lets advertisers benefit from that technology even when they are advertising on sites other than its own through the AdSense program.

Digital Envoy said when it contacted Google about the issue last month, it wasn't satisfied with Google's offer to increase its monthly payments to Digital Envoy by 50 percent to $12,000.

Digital Envoy is suing for unspecified damages linked to Google's profits from the AdSense program, which Google formally launched last year. Calls to Mountain View, Calif.-based Google by XBiz were not returned.

In its startup in 1999, Digital Envoy invented a new technology called geo-intelligence, which enables companies to uncover geographical information about online users based solely on their Internet protocol (IP) addresses.

“Our revolutionary technology has allowed countless businesses to move beyond the borderless Internet and leverage the power of IP-based decision making in their online endeavors,” the company describes itself in a press release.