Around nine years after filing suit against Amazon, MasterObjects, Inc. has hit the tech giant (1:20-cv-03478) again, this time in the Southern District of New York (rather than the Northern District of California) and with later-issuing patents in the same family. The patents generally pertain to the use of asynchronous client-server communications to facilitate search, with infringement allegations targeting Amazon over the provision of its predictive search engine on various platforms, including the Amazon desktop website, mobile apps, and mobile websites. Last week also saw Facebook answer a MasterObjects complaint against it in the only other active case in this campaign.
MasterObjects, Inc. has filed a new lawsuit in the litigation campaign over four patents from a family generally related to the use of asynchronous client-server communications to facilitate search. The latest—and only active—defendant is Facebook (6:20-cv-00087), sued in the Western District of Texas over the provision of its predictive search engine, Typeahead (frontend system) and Unicorn (backend system). The last suit in the campaign, against eBay, ended in December 2018 after a MasterObjects win before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) triggered an end to a stay imposed in the district court litigation.
The sole litigation campaign of MasterObjects, Inc. hit an iceberg when the Federal Circuit affirmed without opinion a May 2013 decision by the Northern District of California, which construed the claims of the patents-in-suit in a way that mandated summary judgment of non-infringement in favor of several defendants, including Alphabet (Google) and Yahoo. MasterObjects began suing companies—Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo—in early 2011, when only the earliest (7,752,326) of the four auto-complete search patents eventually in suit had issued. The plaintiff had accused the features in the defendants’ products that suggest completions for a partial text string in an input field, but its infringement case fell apart when the earlier patents’ scope was limited to systems in which just the changes to the string are re-sent back to the server (rather than the new, whole character string). MasterObjects has since sought to salvage its campaign through assertion of the most recently issued patent (8,539,024) in the family, which had not been asserted in those earlier cases. Its new complaint against eBay (3:16-cv-06824) asserts the ‘024 patent against the repeat defendant’s auto-complete features.