MasterObjects Takes Another Auto-Complete Search Swipe at eBay

December 2, 2016

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.

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