Re: Interview with David Wetherell of CMGI

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From: Robert S. Thau (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 09:28:32 PST

Gordon Mohr writes:

> * Archie, from Peter Deutsch & McGill University, was already
> spidering and indexing FTP sites in 1989
> * WAIS, from Brewster Kahle & company, was full-text indexing content
> soon thereafter (certainly no later than 1991)
> * Veronica, from University of Nevada-Reno, was spidering and indexing
> gopherspace by 1992
> So these AV patents can't be nearly as broad as Wetherell implies in the
> interview. More likely, they apply to specific optimizations of the spider-
> index-search process that AV thinks they invented first.

Unfortunately, there's one hole in the above argument --- Archie and
Veronica did spidering, but, IIRC, they didn't build full-text
indices; WAIS did full-text indexing, but at least the free WAIS
packages that I recall indexed only the files you gave them; they
didn't do spidering. What's needed to really end this nonsense is
prior art for the combination.

In a world in which someone could be issued a patent on the crustless
peanut butter and jelly sandwich in 1999 (patent number 6,004,596 ---
and yes, the patent holder is suing someone for infringement), I think
that combining of spidering and full text indexing, if the combination
was novel, probably meets the PTO's requirements for novelty...


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