Mistrial Declared in Yahoo Search Patent Trial

Gretchen Gallen
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Yahoo's claim to a patent that protects the business method behind paid search advertising has gone uncontested after a judge declared a mistrial in a federal patent infringement trial against search engine FindWhat.com.

The jury failed to reach a decision in the three-year-old patent case pertaining to a system that displays paid advertising links after certain words are entered in a search-engine query.

According to reports, the jury found seven of Yahoo's claims to be invalid but could not agree on the validity of the remaining claims. Yahoo acquired the patent when it purchased Overture Services in 2003 and alleges that FindWhat has been infringing for years.

But Fort Myers, Fla.-based FindWhat denies any wrongdoing.

“We continue to believe that FindWhat.com has never infringed any valid and enforceable claim of the 361 patent,” Craig Pisaris-Henderson of FindWhat.com said.

A hearing is scheduled for June 24 to review whether the patent is unenforceable because of "inequitable conduct committed by Overture. There is speculation among analysts that an out-of-court settlement could result, costing FindWhat between $7 million to $8 million.

In other news, Murray, Frank & Sailer filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of FindWhat shareholders who purchased or acquired the securities of FindWhat between January 5, 2004 and May 4, 2005.

The lawsuit contends that FindWhat and some of the company's executive officers violated federal securities laws by artificially inflating the company's stock price.

FindWhat last traded on the Nasdaq at $4.90 per share.