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Earlier this month, Google and its lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan went to trial against Erich Spangenberg–one of the best-known and most successful patent enforcers–in federal district court in Marshall, Tx. At issue was an e-mail sorting patent that Spangenberg picked up on the cheap and then asserted against Google, Yahoo, AOL, Amazon, Borders, and IAC/Interactive in 2007, at the height of the East Texas patent litigation explosion. All of the defendants except Google and Yahoo settled, but it’s no surprise that Google, which has a uniquely unbending attitude toward suits brought by non-practicing entities, refused to take out a license on Spangenberg’s controversial patent. The company’s hard line was vindicated when, after a six-day trial, a panel of 10 jurors found that the search engines run by Google and Yahoo do not infringe the asserted patent. The jury also invalidated the patent on multiple grounds. None of the parties are saying much about the trial. The lead lawyer for Spangenberg’s patent holding company, Bright Response LLC, was Marc Fenster of the Los Angeles firm Russ, August & Kabat; he didn’t respond to The Prior Art’s requests for comment. Google’s outside lawyers at Quinn Emanuel deferred to the company, but a Google spokesperson declined to comment. The company did offer a short statement to sister publication AmLaw Litigation Daily (subscription required) immediately after trial. At that time deputy GC Tim Alger said: “This decision, as well as other recent Google patent litigation victories, validates our long-standing belief that the courts are burdened with a great number of frivolous patent lawsuits filed by speculators looking for an unjustified windfall.” Still, a Spangenberg v. Google showdown in Marshall is too good for us to pass up at The Prior Art. All sides may be keeping mum, but the documents have a story to tell.

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