Jury hits Google with $20 million verdict in patent infringement case targeting Chrome web browsers

By Steve Brachmann
February 16, 2017

“Browser Computer WWW Google Chrome Web” by unknown. Public domain.

On Friday, February 11th, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary Google was hit with a jury verdict for $20 million in damages awarded to one inventor and the family members of a deceased co-inventor for the infringement of three reissue patents covering malware protection software. The infringement suit targeted Google’s Chrome web browsers for laptops and mobile platforms as well as the sale of Google’s hardware products having that software pre-installed. The case was decided in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex.). (Interesting to note that, in contrast to much of the other patent litigation filed and tried in E.D. Tex., all four plaintiffs actually live within the district court’s geographic area of jurisdiction.)

Alfonso Cioffi and the daughters of Al Rozman first filed suit against Google in E.D. Tex. back in February 2013. The original complaint listed four reissue patents being asserted by the plaintiffs, including:

  • U.S. Patent No. RE43103, titled System and Method for Protecting a Computer System from Malicious Hardware. It claims a portable computer-based system capable of executing instructions using a common operating system and protect critical files from malicious attacks via a network of one or more computers.
  • U.S. Patent No. RE43500, same title as ‘103 patent. It claims a similar computer system which is configured to ensure that a malware program downloaded from a network and executing on a electronic data processor is incapable of initiating access to a memory space.
  • U.S. Patent No. RE43528, same title as ‘103 patent. It claims a method of operating a computer system capable of exchanging data across a network of one or more computers comprising first and second web browser processes operating on respective first and second electronic data processors and capable of accessing data in respective first and second memory spaces.
  • U.S. Patent No. RE43529, same title as ‘103 patent. It claims a method for generating data for display of website content on a portable computer employing a common operating system in a secure manner.

In the official complaint filed in E.D. Tex., the plaintiffs alleged that individual end-users of Chrome products directly infringed upon claims of all four reissue patents asserted. The alleged infringement was made possible by Google’s marketing of a series of identified software services and hardware products, including Google Chrome for Android, several Chromebook models and multiple Nexus devices. The plaintiffs also argued that Google was willful in its infringement as the company was notified by the plaintiffs about the possible infringement of at least the ‘528 and ‘529 patents three months before the plaintiffs filed suit, during which time Google continued to sell the infringing products.

The first decision by E.D. Tex. in this case found an asserted claim of the ‘103 patent to be invalid as indefinite and both parties stipulated to noninfringement of all other asserted claims. The plaintiffs appealed this result and in November 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Fed. Cir.) decided that E.D. Tex. erred in construing a pair of terms, reversing the E.D. Tex. decision and remanding the case back to that lower court. As appellants, Cioffi and the Rozmans challenged E.D. Tex.’s construction of the terms “web browser process” and “critical file.”

The term “web browser process” was first drafted during the prosecution process for the reissue patent in order to limit the claims to a web browser and not browsers for video games or word processors, which were given as examples by the examiner. E.D. Tex. had construed this term as “a process that can access data on websites.” At the Markman hearing, Google agreed to this preliminary construction on the understanding that the claim term requires “direct” access to website data. E.D. Tex. also found the term “critical file” to be indefinite because it held that whatever made a user feel that a file was critical was subjective in nature. On appeal, the appellants argued that nothing inherent in the term “web browser process” indicated the “direct” access requirement and Fed. Cir. found that there was nothing in the patent prosecution history which constituted a disavowal of “indirect” access. As to the construction of “critical files” to mean “critical user files,” Fed. Cir.’s analysis of the term found that experts on both sides agreed on an objective and well-understood meaning for “critical file” which avoided the subjectivity of “critical user files,” making the term “critical file” definite and not invalid.

The $20 million awarded in the recent E.D. Tex. jury trial in this case was awarded as a rolling royalty and not a lump monetary sum, according to coverage of the verdict published by Law360.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a writer located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He has become a regular contributor to IPWatchdog.com, writing about technology, innovation and is the primary author of the Companies We Follow series. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 35 Comments comments.

  1. Bemused February 16, 2017 9:57 am

    If I was plaintiff’s counsels, I wouldn’t pat myself on the back just yet. They still have to get through the inevitable CAFC appeal. And if my memory serves me correct; not a single jury verdict against Google has survived the CAFC. Pretty incredible.

  2. Invention Rights February 16, 2017 10:01 am

    But forum shoppers are real. And software. And EDTX does not invalidate enough patents. And none of us can have secure browsers ever again. And Google’s stock price dropped. And patents should not outlive their inventor, what an outrage. Bunch of parasites. Patent reform now! Who’s with me?

  3. Gene Quinn February 16, 2017 10:45 am

    Invention Rights-

    Care to tell us who you work for and how you come to such wacky views?

    Because of this patent no one will ever have secure browsers again? WOW! One of the more ignorant comments ever uttered here on IPWatchdog.com. Of course, patents last for a limited time (which you apparently don’t know) so “ever again” is just a little bit much. Second, all Google had to do was license the technology like other companies rather than steal it and they could include it in their browser. Look at that… problem solved! Third, to suggest this is the only way to secure browsers is just stupid.

    As for patents shouldn’t outlive their inventor, interesting concept. Not the law. Corporate America wouldn’t like that rule either I’m sure. It would instantly kill research and development and pretty soon the copiers you champion wouldn’t have anything to copy.

    Finally, calling yourself “Invention Rights” isn’t going to fool anyone here. Clearly you are a shill for the infringer lobby and would prefer NO invention rights whatsoever. So please everyone… enough with the asinine names that make you seem like someone you are not. That kind of game playing is beneath the conversation here. If you hate inventors or patents then why not use a name like “I hate patents” so everyone understands your anonymous bias.

    -Gene

  4. Invention Rights February 16, 2017 11:09 am

    Sorry Gene I thought the satire was over the top. I will add the disclaimer next time. [Post @2 was entirely satire].

  5. angry dude February 16, 2017 11:49 am

    :):):):)

    This blog is hilarious to read and participate in, but ultimately doesn’t make a dent in google’s cash mountain built on political corruption and stolen ip

    Like I said before about US patent system: “The doc said ‘to the morgue’ — to the morgue it is!”

    I hope Trump gets google on H1B visas.
    But even then they have enough $$$ to build gigantic google barge and float it just off shore of SF in international waters
    (believe me or not google filed patent just for that)

    The google barge will be full of sea-sick developers from 3rd-world countries making more $$$ for almighty google until it capsizes…

    then finally google will be evil…

  6. Gene Quinn February 16, 2017 1:59 pm

    Invention Rights-

    Sorry to jump on you if what you were saying was satire. I may be too sensitive. Over the last several months I’ve noticed a substantial uptick in people commenting where they were clearly taking an anti-patent and anti-inventor position and claiming that they were part of the inventor community.

    -Gene

  7. patent leather February 16, 2017 4:13 pm

    i don’t have the time to look into this today, does anyone know if the 101 issue was raised in this case?

  8. Inventor Woes February 16, 2017 9:45 pm

    This is all the fault of the SCOTeti and their Fuddy Duddy bumpkins Clarence the Clown and Michelle Kwok Lee! They are all shills of the efficient infringer mafia members like Googleti and Appleti! Whatever happened to the small inventor? They’re getting destroyed by the big guys.

    The doc said ‘to the morgue’ — to the morgue it is!

    Let’s make America Great Again! #makeamericagreatagain

  9. P Goodwin February 17, 2017 7:45 am

    Read the first patent 43103. Very weak, indeed laughable. The concepts claimed, basically sandboxing on somehow (very broad claim this is) isolated hardware , are abundantly found in prior art going back to the days of Multics and fault tolerant computing.

  10. Anon February 17, 2017 7:51 am

    Nice sarcasm, IW

  11. Ben Mandeville-Clarke February 17, 2017 8:25 am

    Just on the topic of the anti-patent community: I don’t understand how people can be opposed to so called “patent trolls”, who are no where near as bad as the multi-nationals they assert patents against. Apple, Samsung, Google, etc, don’t pay their taxes, they have been embroiled in controversial business practices, such as breaching environmental regulations, child labor, underpaying employees, etc. The sooner we can strengthen patent rights to prevent these multi-nationals from monopolising the markets, the BETTER!

    Also, patent trolls provide liquidity to the patent markets by paying small inventors for their innovations, and also partner with small inventors to litigate against the multi-nationals. Without patent trolls, the multi-nationals would dominate and there would be no more incentives for innovation. There would be no more checks and balances against the efficient infringement performed by multi-nationals.

    Sorry if I am off-topic, but the anti-patent rhetoric FRUSTRATES me!

  12. Patent Investor February 17, 2017 11:03 am

    @7 Patent Leather, are you senile Judge Mayer awoke from a nap to raise more 101 off-topic questions???

  13. Gene Quinn February 17, 2017 4:50 pm

    P Goodwin-

    I think you are exaggerating the importance of Multics, which suffered from serious security vulnerabilities. These security vulnerabilities, which have been well documented over the years, specifically related to subversion techniques. The patent you laugh at relates to an invention directed specifically to protecting against subversion techniques. So I’m not sure how an innovation aimed at one of the fundamental flaws of Multics could at all be questioned by Multics.

    -Gene

  14. Inventor Woes February 17, 2017 8:08 pm

    Ben,

    What about these small inventors?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33qEghEs6X4&t=80s

  15. Tim February 17, 2017 10:02 pm

    Cash in if you won the case! Once this hit’s the “criminal” CAFC, Judges Mayer and Wallach will look at it and say, “we don’t see it” and toss the case. Just like they did with Vringo, after Vringo beat Google, AOL, Target and Gannett. 12 jurors said that the Vringo vs IP Internet trial was in Vringo’s favor: all 14 charges found Google and friends guilty. But, appeals Ct will toss the case! Dirty as it gets! Take it from someone that lost a ton of cash, believing in our court system! Google has spread cash to Obama’s buddies, and even if you take the case to the Supreme Ct, it won’t be looked at! SICKENING!

  16. angry dude February 18, 2017 5:43 am

    Ben Mandeville-Clarke @11

    Dude,

    you are preaching to the choir
    and it’s too late anyway…
    US patent system has being dying a slow and painful death over the last 10 years, starting with EBay scotus decision back in 2006
    (with active bi-partisan participation in all 3 branches of government – tells you something…)

    The doc said ‘to the morgue’ — to the morgue it is!

  17. Night Writer February 18, 2017 8:28 am

    @5 Angry Dude: This blog is hilarious to read and participate in, but ultimately doesn’t make a dent in google’s cash mountain built on political corruption and stolen ip

    I think this is exactly right. We need a Super PAC to counter Google’s. Just look at the patent “reformers”. They are all fueled by Google.

  18. Night Writer February 18, 2017 8:29 am

    I think we should start pushing for a purge of the Fed. Cir. Trump could disband the Fed. Cir. and reform it the same day. Pick the few judges that are not Google purchased and haven’t gone mad.

    Be easy and be a good idea to purge the Fed. Cir. of Google’s influence.

  19. Night Writer February 18, 2017 8:31 am

    @11 who are no where near as bad as the multi-nationals they assert patents against. Apple, Samsung, Google, etc, don’t pay their taxes,

    This is exactly right. The scale is unbelievable. They are getting 100’s of billions in profits and the patent awards are a pittance in comparison.

  20. Inventor Woes February 18, 2017 9:10 am

    Yeah the patent system has been failing, coincidentally, at the same that I got my patent back in 2006 and failed to be successful.

  21. Anon February 18, 2017 11:48 am

    IW,

    Whether or not that “coincidence” exists, the larger points remain. Maybe instead of just a snide comment tr011ing a known person tied to his emotions, you might consider doing more to add to the conversation. Maybe something like advancing a point in either direction – something that may back up your snideness, or perhaps, refocus on the underlying legal issues.

    Just a thought.

    Gene – let my advance my previous suggestion as to the rise in anti-inventor postings under the guise of pro-patent protection: You have a confidential email address check system on your comments. Use it. If someone is not satisfied with the confidentially that you already provide with the ability to post under a pseudonym or anonymously (even if that psuedonym is tied to the concept of anonymous posting 😉 ), and that person feels compelled to use a fake email address, then that person is also not likely to be compelled enough to be honest in the comments – leastwise, honest enough for the excellent standards that you have established here by banning those who purposefully and flagrantly misstate law or facts.

    There are other forums where a much more Wild West approach is tolerated (some may even – justifiably – say promoted). Simply use the tool you already have and permit comments from those willing enough to be honest in their anonymity and pseudonymity.

  22. angry dude February 18, 2017 2:57 pm

    Inventor Woes @17

    “out of the mouths of babes comes the truth” (sometimes)

    that grown up imbecile baby is you

    There was more than a little coincidence as my patent I believe was used as a poster child for why patent “reform” was needed in internal talks between some of those crooked SV ceos

    And for general clueless US lemming population like you:
    “Because Patent Trolls!!!” … hapless public cheers

  23. Anon February 18, 2017 3:11 pm

    Patent tr011s is so obviously one of the biggest Big Corp propaganda moves of the beginning of this new millennium.

    Follow the money to whom exactly coined and attempted to popularize the term (and to what ends).

    Here is a hint: it was not for the betterment of the average American. It had nothing to do with promoting innovation.

  24. Inventor Woes February 18, 2017 9:28 pm

    Anon,

    If you still think people use fake emails then you’re wrong. They could be real email addresses.

  25. Inventor Woes February 18, 2017 9:58 pm

    angry: “There was more than a little coincidence as my patent I believe was used as a poster child for why patent “reform” was needed in internal talks between some of those crooked SV ceos”

    Objection! Speculation! Opinion evidence is not credible as to outcome determinative facts. Only for supporting a person’s character is such evidence allowed in a court case. Also only for expert witnesses. We have no basis that your testimony is that of an expert as we have to take your word that you are a BSEE, MS, and PhD that obtained a patent in 2006. There’s no foundation for your arguments. Thus when you say “I believe” we simply cannot take your word for it. How’s that for lawyerly Gene?

  26. angry dude February 18, 2017 10:37 pm

    Inventor Woes @25

    dude,
    you are nothing but troll
    you contribute nothing to discussion
    just go away, pleeeeeze
    poshyol von !

  27. Anon February 19, 2017 8:56 am

    IW,

    I know that people use fake email addresses here.

    For example, the Patently-O poster known as MM (or under dozens of sockpuppet names at PatentDocs has admitted to posting here under a fake email address.

    Likewise, Mr. Snyder who has posted across several blogs with his fantasy recreation of patent law to suit his own personal agenda has openly admitted to posting here under a fake email name.

    Yes, some of the posers choosing pseudonyms that sound in being pro-innovation, but that post with anti-innovation messages may very well be posting with real email addresses. You in fact may be one of them. Then again, you may not be one of them.

    My suggestion stand though – those who choose to post with deception (monikers in the opposite of what their message entails) – are simply more likely to be posting with deception of email addresses. Gene already has in place a mechanism for reducing such noxious tr0lling.

    If you survive that safeguard, I would still invite you to post in more than merely the mindless tr011ing manner that you seem to be accustomed to, and my other comments directly to you and your posting style still very much apply.

    There are other blogs that seem to welcome such mindless clutter. Respect the ones that try to be different, please.

  28. Inventor Woes February 19, 2017 9:01 am

    Anon,

    Even if you had a system that sent a confirmation email to the poster to make sure it wasn’t a fake email, it could still be an anonymous email, so I don’t know why you’re going on about fake emails. Also, choice of moniker doesn’t matter either. Your moniker “Anon” could mean that you’re some kind of neo-nazi racist hacker on 4chan or something. So maybe your moniker stands in opposition of what your message entails?

  29. Inventor Woes February 19, 2017 9:40 am

    angry dude,

    Don’t blame me. Blame fuddy duddy fee fi fo fum SCOTeti, Clarence the Clown, and Ed the Ned. Also might wanna blame Clifford the Big Red Dog, the Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. Also Googleti, Appleti, the illuminati, and the fake moon landing conspirators. Perhaps also Anon the Anal, Gene the Spleen and whoever else you want to name-call.

  30. Anon February 19, 2017 11:24 am

    IW,

    You are trying way too hard to miss the point of the discussion here.

    The choice of a moniker that indicates a pro-patent position COUPLED with posts that are not pro-patent is the item at hand. Views, thoughts and feelings NOT being presented – what someone may feel that is not presented in their posts or by their choice of moniker are not germane to the present discussion.

    The use of a false email is an attempt to evade the control of having the requirement of providing an email. Why engage in that chicanery? It has ZERO to do with maintaining anonymity. It is a surreptitious move in and of itself.

    You quite miss the point, and I do suspect that you miss it on purpose.

  31. Inventor Woes February 19, 2017 12:02 pm

    Anon

    There is a real email. Gene can send a confirmation link if he feels that it is necessary to verify. Again I’m afraid it is you that is missing the point.

  32. Inventor Woes February 19, 2017 12:16 pm

    Goes to show that many commentors on this site are only focused on names… and name calling. How about some real arguments with evidence instead of emotion?

  33. Anon February 19, 2017 1:59 pm

    IW,

    You continue to miss the point, as I have clearly indicated that your email very well may be a legitimate email address – and that such does not take away from what I am saying.

    As to your post at 32, I recommend that you lead that with your own behavior.

    How many of your own bouts of name-calling have had any substantive arguments supporting them?

  34. Anon February 19, 2017 3:21 pm

    Your “evidence” is NOT – and has been remarked to that extent on another thread – as has your choice of parody.

    We already know how angry dude operates – just as we know how you operate. My last question of post 33 still applies – your name calling of me “for parody” was by far not your sole “indiscretion” as to bouts of name calling with no substantive arguments supporting them.

    That’s why I have called you out in the first place.

  35. jbavis February 23, 2017 6:59 pm

    “Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” – Google trying to suggest they don’t infringe “web browser process”.

    Google enjoys HUGE profits, ENORMOUS cash in the bank (with no debt), pays relatively LITTLE TAXES, EMPLOYS relatively few – yet pays incredible amounts for Washington LOBBIES to set the record for meeting a president (Obama). I’d wager a bet that the amounts paid out to legitimate inventors are less than the amount expended on influencing policy. Fortunately the truth is becoming more and more apparent, “do no evil” is a facade.

    Chrome, Android, and Chromebooks were all designed to be ***WEB*** based. Security was added in afterwards – of course they’re going to run into infringing someone else’s IP. Instead of fighting why not simply license or work with the inventor?