Location-Based Search? Patented! Owner Plans To Sue Everyone

from the isn't-innovation-grand? dept

A patent holding company named Geomas has the rights to a broad and obvious patent on location-based search that just about every local search or online yellow pages site probably violates. The company has apparently raised $20 million from some of the growing list of investment firms drooling over the innovation-killing patent-hoarding lawsuit rewards and is kicking things off by suing Verizon for daring to put its phone book online in the form of Superpages.com. This is the type of patent that should be tossed out following the Supreme Court's Teleflex ruling, but for now it's wasting plenty of time and money in everyone's favorite courthouse for patent hoarding lawsuits in Marshall, Texas. While the article notes that it may have been "new" to think about creating location-based search when the patent was filed, that doesn't account for whether or not it was an obvious next-step. Does anyone actually believe that without this patent Verizon wouldn't have thought to put its yellow pages solution online or that Google wouldn't think of creating a local search tool? That seems difficult to believe.


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    Cixelsid, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 1:06am

    Argh!

    I can't read the frickin article on Wired cause there's a huge Flash add for AT&T covering up half the article.

     

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    Mark Bowness, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 1:44am

    Surely this will not go anywhere!?

    Mark Bowness

     

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    ReallyEvilCanine, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 2:06am

    Obvious?

    while the article notes that it may have been "new" to think about creating location-based search when the patent was filed, that doesn't account for whether or not it was an obvious next-step.
    And voice over wires was an "obvious" next step to telegraphy -- so obvious, in fact, that a duplicate invention was created independently and the patent filed the same day as Bell's (there's a camp which believe Bell paid off the PO to have his filing time-stamped earlier).


    The "obvious next step" claim isn't one which will win in a technotard courtroom. Rather, it's destroying the idea that "Do X that we've done for decades in meatspace on the Web" is somehow so different and innovative that it warrants new patents. That means lining up a load of programmers as witnesses. With that out of the way it's a matter of prior art. There's nothing new about regional searches and listings (Yellow Pages) and there's nothing super-innovative about making such listings and searches available via computer.

     

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    Shohat, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 3:22am

    Ahem you forgot something very important.

    The patent received the stamp on On July 27, 1999, 8 years ago.
    The technology it describes is still in it's infancy , even now, 8 years after the patent was granted.
    You know where to shove your "obvious" claims.

     

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      Cixelsid, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 3:50am

      Re: Ahem you forgot something very important.

      And you forgot to read the comment above yours.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 4:14am

      Re: Ahem you forgot something very important.

      At what point did difficulty = non-obvious?

      So what if its in its infancy. it just means someone knew what the next step was and decided to patent it. you can have the idea well before you can get a working prototype or algorithm or what have you.

      Being able to search for restaurants in my area? I wasn't even surprised by the idea.

       

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      Richard Ahlquist (profile), Jun 12th, 2007 @ 6:03am

      Re: Ahem you forgot something very important.

      No they didn't forget anything. Location based search isn't innovative. Pick up your 'local' yellow pages look up anything you want. Thats a location based search. Just putting something on the web doesn't make it an innovation. Otherwise a simple act of ringing up a transaction online would have been patentable. Email would have been patentable etc.

       

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        Jeremy N, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 6:14am

        Re: Re: Ahem you forgot something very important.

        Richard, don't give the trolls any ideas. Next week, we're going to see 10 patent trolls come out suing everyong that send an email or buys something online!

        And to Shohat, you're an idiot. Location Based search is not "in its infancy." Its been around for years. Yeah, Google is just starting, but there are other companies besides Google out there. I know Yellowpages.com has been around for several years, I used them in college all the time.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 5:30am

    I bought my house in 1998 or 1997 using a location based search.

    hmm....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 6:13am

    Why don't we all just patent every idea we can think of and wait for someone else to think of it then sue. i thought of a peanut butter and jelly with m&ms sandwich, i'll patent it and wait for some 5 yr old to make one then sue his parents. yesssss......

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    Technically, region based searches have been around for decades! Everytime you look through the Yellow Pages, which are a listing of phone numbers for businesses grouped by regions, you're doing this. . . Assuming you're still using that be fat tree killing waste of paper still and not looking the numbers up online. . .

     

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    Da_ALC, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 7:19am

    Naaaah

    Im pretty sure companier where doign location based searches using in-house software at job-centres or estate agent well before anything appeared online. This cant go anywhere, if it does they are gonna get sued themselves at soem point.

     

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      Sore Eyes, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 7:32am

      Re: Naaaah

      Please, please, please - re-read your comments before actually posting them. Over 10% of your post consisted of words you spelled wrong in one way or another. The apostrophe is right next to the enter key on most keyboards. Is it really that hard to type "I'm" instead of "Im"?

       

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        Charles Griswold, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 11:27am

        Re: Re: Naaaah

        Please, please, please - re-read your comments before actually posting them. Over 10% of your post consisted of words you spelled wrong in one way or another. The apostrophe is right next to the enter key on most keyboards. Is it really that hard to type "I'm" instead of "Im"?
        thts bcuz wen u cant type it savs lots of time 2 not type rite

         

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    WTF, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 7:33am

    WTF--Hasn't anyone ever heard of 411?

    That has to be one of the earliest forms of location based search.YOu would dial 411, they would either acertain where you were based on your area code, or ask for you city and state, or zip code. Then you tell them what you are looking for, and presto! You have an electronic location based search, that gives you the number of a local business. And if you wanted a business outside your area code, well you would just dial (areacode) 555-1212. This had to be electronic location based searches, I seriously doubt they paid operators to sit there and flip through a phone book....

     

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    Casper, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 7:46am

    How about this...

    Lets just amend the patent law to require an infringement claim to come with proof you have a rival product and that they are actually hurting your business. Enough with this theoretical bullshit. If you can't make a product, you can't copyright/patent it. If you hold a patent, but do not product a product from your patent, you can't sue anyone for infringing because you don't have a market for them to infringe on.

    Ideas are just ideas, unless your going to make something of them, don't stop everyone else from moving forward.

     

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    Mike, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    Prior Art

    Location based search is prior art
    - the phone book
    - thomas register

    Heck, fish disk 48 had a comm program that had a phone number directory. If it could do a location based sort, it counts as prior art online.. and its from the 80's.
    http://ftp.funet.fi/pub/amiga/fish/Contents

     

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    chris (profile), Jun 12th, 2007 @ 8:08am

    don't do away with ALL patents

    just SOFTWARE patents.

    that way 7 out of 10 troll cases can get tossed on the spot.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 9:53am

    Wouldn't a printed map with local businesses, attractions, and restaurants on it be prior art?

     

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    patent-monkey, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 10:25am

    Interesting

    Might not be enough to invalidate the patent or be used for obviousness (e.g. may not have been invented first v. filed first), but it does cover searchable, geographic information in the context of real estate and was filed 2 days earlier.

    http://www.patentmonkey.com/PM/patentid/5852810.aspx

    See claims 1 and 8 in combination. Oh yeah, irony would have it that this one is already abandoned and free to use.

     

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    Adam, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    Don't do away with patents, just impose restrictio

    So if someone files a patent they have say, 3 years to come up with an actual product/service or license it to 3rd party who can come up with product/service. If nothing happens in 3 years the patent becomes public property.

    A.

     

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    Charles Griswold, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Perfect World?

    "In a perfect world, we commercialize the technology and grab licensing fees," said Jason Galanis, founder of Geomas, which was formerly called Yellowone Investments.
    Holy crap, Batman. I don't think I want to live in his "perfect world".

     

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    Avatar28, Jun 12th, 2007 @ 9:12pm

    more prior art

    How about those big phone and address directories that came on CDROM. I know they've been around since at least the mid 90's. They had listings for most of the country and allowed you to do a search for a person or business based on, you guessed it, location.

    Still, as far as them suing Verizon, I have to say, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving company after the whole Vonage lawsuit BS.

     

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    Prior Art Search India, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 3:20am

    Patent Consultancy offer services such as prior art search, patent ability search, outsourcing patent drafting, patent drafting, patent analytics, patent search service and other patent services are provided by communicating to TT Consultants in India.

     

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