[linux-elitists] AltaVista claims patent on web indexing...

Dan York dyork@e-smith.com
Fri Jan 26 05:51:41 PST 2001

Don't know if you all saw this... (it came to me by way of NewsScan,
an online newsletter I've been getting for years)

AltaVista has claimed a patent on a method of indexing Web sites used by 
most search engines and company intranets, and is threatening to sue 
companies using these search techniques for patent infringement. "We 
believe that virtually everyone out there who indexes the Web is in 
violation of at least several of [AltaVista's] key patents," says David 
Wetherell, CEO of CMGI, AltaVista's parent company. AltaVista owns 38 
patents, "many of which we think are fundamental to the search area," and 
has applications pending for another 30, says Wetherell. "If you index a 
distributed set of databases -- that's what the Internet is. And even 
within intranets, that's one of the patents." AltaVista's move will 
intensify the debate over to what extent companies should be allowed to 
claim monopolies over methods that have become building blocks of the 
Internet. "If nothing is done, the Web will become fenced in by competing 
patents, turning an open, free and transparent playing field into a 
proprietary wasteland littered with nonsensical and stifling legislation," 
says one critic, CEO of a Web design and development company. (Financial 
Times 25 Jan 2001)

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