When you go to Amazon.com and start typing in the top search box, you will automatically see a number of search suggestions for items on sale before you finish typing your query. The company also offers such enhanced search capabilities via browser add-ons and toolbars as well as its mobile applications for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
MasterObjects, which offers AJAX and Flash-based software solutions that provide immediate search results and suggestions to Web users, now says it owns a patent that covers the technology used for said search suggestions.
The company earlier this week filed a formal complaint for patent infringement (see below).
The patent-in-suit is no. 7,752,326 and is titled “System and method for utilizing asynchronous client server communication objects”.
This is the summary of the patent, which was originally filed in August 2001:
A session-based client-server asynchronous information search and retrieval system for sending character-by-character or multi-character strings of data to an intelligent server, that can be configured to immediately analyze the lengthening string and return to the client increasingly appropriate search information.
Embodiments include integration within an Internet, web or other online environment, including applications for use in interactive database searching, data entry, online searching, online purchasing, music purchasing, people-searching, and other applications. In some implementations the system may be used to provide dynamically focused suggestions, auto-completed text, or other input-related assistance, to the user.
Needless to say, Amazon.com is far from the only Internet company that offers search suggestions based on what you type – both Google and Bing offer instant search, for example, as do Apple’s App Store and eBay to name but a few.
Heck, you’d be hard-pressed to find modern ecommerce sites and applications that do not serve custom search suggestions upon typing in their respective search boxes.
I’ve contacted Masterobjects to learn why they singled out Amazon.com specifically and why they waited until this week to file suit – I will update this post when I hear back.
Important to point out: unlike most patent infringement suits we cover here on TechCrunch, Masterobjects isn’t a patent troll but a real company that has been actually making and selling software products powered by the technology it claims to have invented.
You can learn more background about the case in the patent infringement complaint.
Hat tip goes to patent litigation news site PriorSmart.