Recently I came across another instance of the white paper titled Combating Web Spam with TrustRank being attributed to Google and this is simply not accurate.
In early 2005 Google filed an intent to use patent on the words TrustRank. On September 5th 2006 Google was granted an extension for their intent to use patent which they filed for in August of the same year.
What is an intent to use patent?
If you have not yet used the mark, but plan to do so in the future, you may file based on a good faith or bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce. You do not have to use the mark before you file your application.
An “intent to use” application must include a sworn statement (usually in the form of a declaration) that you have a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce. A properly worded declaration is included in the USPTO standard application form. The applicant or a person authorized to sign on behalf of the applicant must sign the statement.
NOTE: If you file based on intent to use, you must begin actual use of the mark in commerce before the USPTO will register the mark; that is, after filing an application based on “intent to use,” you must later file another form (“Allegation of Use”) to establish that use has begun.
The important thing to note here is that what Google filed for was an intent to use the words TrustRank and not what is outlined in the Stanford white paper.
In August 0f 2005 a patent application for TrustRank as it is outlined by the white paper and names Yahoo as the assignee.
What does all of this mean?
It means that Google intends to use the trademark “TrustRank” in commerce and that once it does, it will have to file again that it has actually used words “TrustRank”.
It also means that Yahoo will own the rights to the process of calculating TrustRank as outlined in the white paper authored by Zoltan Gyongyi (Stanford), Hector Garcia-Molina (Stanford), & Jan Pederson (Yahoo), when/if the patent application is approved.
What it DOES NOT mean is that when Google starts using the trademark TrustRank that it will be caculated using the ideas and equations in the white paper. It’s not theirs to use.