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, 10 Aug 2011 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Auther does not know about patents or software engineering !

    "A Software Engineer does the same job as a programmer and an Administrative Assistant does the same job as a secretary,"

    Administrative Assistant, is not the same as a secretary, they do not perform the same tasks AT ALL !!

    Perhaps when you gain a bit of experience in the real world, and get out of Maccas you will see how wrong you are.

    It is possible you were thing about "personal assistant" and adminastrative assistant, but that is not even a close comparison.

    As for software engineer and programmer, it is more like the software engineer designs the system at the highest level and farms out the dogs body work to 'programmers'.

    Like an electronics engineer (my formal qualification) is responsible for the design of a system and the technicians get the soldering iron out and make the actual circuit, under the strict direction of the engineer in charge.

    The primary difference between software engineer and 'programmer' is the attitude, a software engineer will not accept 'bugs' (engineering failures) and ensure adequate testing and refinement. Tasks that are beyond a programmer, who would rarly get to see or even understand the overall system.

    people who do not mind shipping software 'with a few small bugs' or not quite up to any specification are regarded as programmers (or hackers), they 'hack' code and hope for the best.

    a software engineer has the same (or far more) experience in programming as a 'programmer' has but also has the formal and engineering skills (and cirtifications) to produce product.

    But when you are an electronics engineer with deep experience in software development you are regarded as a "Systems Engineer". I will leave it up to you to work out (or google) what a Systems Engineer does.

    I have been programming microprocessors since 1978 writing machine language software IN BINARY for the SC/MP and the Signetics 2650 CPU, (then the 8080 family).

    I have been building microprocessor and microcontroller systems since that time, and have made a very successful career and living from it.

    Most of the work I do now is mission critical, including scientific and medical instrumentation, SCADA systems, and industrial control systems.

    There are arears where you require a systems engineer, and correct engineering procedures and Quality management procedures, code reviews and so on.

    All the realm of software engineers and systems engineers not 'hackers' or 'programmers', generally.

    The difference is in the method, quality and skills brought to the table for a specific task.

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