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AltaVista's CGMI says, "We own the Internet."

By Damon Marturion
New Business News Staff Writer

Andover, MA -- It just goes to show what a company will claim in desperation. After CMGI purchased search engine AltaVista it watched it's stock price gradually drop-off from $150 a year ago to $6 today. True all search engines have to struggle with how to regain profitability due to lack of online ad revenue.

CMGI in a flurry of creative brainstorming came up with a solution: All the search engines can pay-us, or else we'll shut down the Internet, as we know it. Claiming that when CMGI purchased AltaVista, they also purchased 38 patents and have an additional 30 that they have applied for, that cover the basic search function of the Internet or any Web sites.

CEO David Wetherell said, "We believe that virtually everyone out there who indexes the Web is in violation of at least several of (AltaVista's) key patents."

In fact, according to Wetherell, even if you search within your own intranet, you may be in violation, and prosecutable, "if you index a distributed set of databases -- that's what the Internet is. And even within intranets, that's one of the patents," says Wetherell.

It's about as ridiculous as vice president, Al Gore claiming that he invented, "the Internet," in the infamous 1999 CNN interview.

Okay, so Wetherell didn't exactly say that he owns the Internet, just any search feature related to the Internet, when in real life, search function has steadily evolved since the University of Minnesota contributed Gopher in 1991.

Four years later, AltaVista was introduced as a sales tool for Digital Computers in 1995. "Back then," says Dave Masters of Web Masters Ink, "AltaVista was the most powerful search tool around." It quickly gained popularity with techies due to its deep crawling of the Internet. "Since then," says Masters, "it's deteriorated so much because it is supposed to be a money-maker for CMGI. They've ruined the integrity and purity of the original AltaVista in an effort to make a buck."

When attempts to turn it into a successful and profitable preferred portal came up short - CMGI discovered itself in the unique position not to have to make money - because they can always file lawsuits against anyone else who may be successful.

. . . watch for more stories coming soon  


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