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Google wins location-tech suit

Digital Envoy had charged the search giant with breach of contract and illegally profiting from its software.

Google has won a case brought by location-technology specialist Digital Envoy that charged the search giant with breach of contract and illegally profiting from its software.

Northern California District Court Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed Digital's complaints in an eight-page ruling given on Jan. 24.

"Digital is not entitled to equitable relief on its claim for misappropriation of trade secrets, absent a showing of Google's willful misconduct," Seeborg wrote. "Google is now entitled to summary judgment in its favor."

Representatives for Digital Envoy and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The ruling ends at least part of a legal battle started in March 2004, when Digital filed a complaint against Google in Atlanta, where it is based. Digital alleged that Google overstepped the bounds of a contract to use Digital's IP Intelligence, software that pinpoints Web surfers' physical location to better deliver ads.

Google countersued in California nearly a month later, asking for declaratory judgment that it hadn't stepped outside the licensing agreement. The lawsuits were consolidated and moved from Georgia to San Jose, Calif. Google still has claims pending against Digital, and a trial to hear Google's complaints has not been set yet.

The two companies had a licensing agreement as far back as 2000 that relied on Digital's IP technology to pinpoint the physical location of Web visitors for Google so that it could better serve sponsored search results. (The parties no longer work together.) Digital balked in 2003, when Google broadened use of the geo-location technology to include serving targeted advertisements onto third-party sites in a program then called Google AdSense.