Company Claims Patents On Generating A Map From A Database; Getting Real Estate Industry To Pay Up

from the lovely dept

Judith Lindenau alerts us to the news of a company named CIVIX-DDI, who holds two incredibly broad and obvious patents on generating maps from a database of location info:
  • Patent 6,385,622: "System and methods for remotely accessing a selected group of items of interest from a database."
  • Patent 6,415,291: "System and methods for remotely accessing a selected group of items of interest from a database."
Now, I know that patent system supporters always get angry at me for declaring patents obvious, but take a read through the claims (not the abstract) and I defy anyone who knows anything about programming to explain how these patents do not describe incredibly obvious concepts.

Either way, CIVIX-DDI has realized that pretty much every real estate company around likely has a map generated based on a database of location info. So it's been going after them. It originally went after Realtor.com and a variety of local multiple listing services (MLSs). After a bunch were threatened, the National Association of Realtors stepped in, and a few months ago negotiated a settlement, paying up to keep MLSs from facing patent infringement claims. Of course, that's just given the company more money, and so now it's suing Trulia, a useful real estate startup, as well. The industry is realizing that this is putting a serious crimp on much needed innovation in the real estate space:
“Traditionally the real estate industry has been served by a lot of independent software companies. Think about it, Top Producer was a couple brothers from Canada, Advanced Access, eNeighborhooods, Lone Wolf, Tarasoft, Rapattoni, W&R Studios, etc. I could think of a bunch more but hopefully you get the point. It’s not like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft have really focused on real estate software/technology,” W&R Studios co-founder, Greg Robertson told AGBeat.

Robertson continued, “These patent trolls are threatening the ability for these independent software companies to do business. Meaning, bigger companies who have the assets to pay the extortion money will end up being the winners. Independent software companies will either go out of business or get gobbled up by bigger companies. Both scenarios equal less choice for real estate professionals.”

Regarding VC backed companies like Trulia and Zillow, Robertson said, “whether you like them or not, they are the ones really investing and leading on the innovation side. So we are all in this fight together. The consequences are clear; less choice and less innovation.”
Bad patents and bad patent lawsuits are not just a problem for the tech industry. They're hitting pretty much every industry these days, and those who support a totally broken patent system and the awful patents they produce are doing serious harm to innovation and the economy.

Filed Under: maps, mls, patents, real estate
Companies: civix-ddi, trulia


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  1. identicon
    darryl, 9 Aug 2011 @ 7:29pm

    Auther does not know about patents or software engineering !

    Now, I know that patent system supporters always get angry at me for declaring patents obvious, but take a read through the claims (not the abstract) and I defy anyone who knows anything about programming to explain how these patents do not describe incredibly obvious concepts.

    Lots of things are 'incredibly obvious' but that does not mean that the patent for a METHOD to achieve that is also obvious, clearly it is not.

    I know lots about programming, I expect in fact far far more than you do mike, but I understand that even if something is incredibly obvious (after you hear about it), does not mean the method of achieving that obvious effect is also obvious, or trivial, or not patentable.

    ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about patents knows you do not patent the idea, you patent a method of achieving a result, yes that result might be obvious, but again, that does not mean that the method to achieve that is equially obvious.

    What do you know about programming Mike, are you or have you ever been employed in the programming field ? (no writing web pages does not count) ?

    could you knock out a UML diagram for a spanning tree algorithm off the top of you head ?

    how about something even more simple how about a bubble search algoritm for a triple linked list ?

    Yes, I am sure you can google those terms and come up with something and sounds almost correct, but that displays your ability to google things, not your ability to do software engineering.

    (only unprofessional and backyard hackers call themselves 'programmers', real computer expects and code developers are called "Software Engineers".)

    No I am not a 'programmer' I am a software engineer but anyone who knows anything about programming would allready know that.

    BTW: yes I have read the full patent, not just the summary, and I defy anyone who understands software engineering to state how that METHOD is obvious.

    So mike in the one article you have displayed a complete lack of understanding about patents as well as a complete lack of understanding of software engineering and systems engineering.

    This btw; is far more a Systems Engineering derived patent than it is a software patent.

    I have yet to see a single algorithm or UML diagram or any explination of software methods employed.

    The patent is a METHOD of achieving a result.

    A spring is a very obvious thing as well, but when that spring forms part of a higher order device its obviousness has no meaning, you can put a spring into a mouse trap and patent the mouse trap, not the spring.

    Yes, a mousetrap is also an incredibly obvious thing once you see it, it contains components that are equally obvious, but put together as a whole, it forms something that was not obvious and therefore it is a METHOD of achiving some goal. That ofcourse is obvious once you see it.

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