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 @ 6:23am

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

    who said programmers do not know anything about programming, and yes there are some programmers who are very good and very skilled, just as there are some garbage collectors who are very skilled and very good at their job.

    But there is a clear definition between software engineering and programming. That if you do not understand just shows you have never worked in that area.

    a programmer writes the program under the guidance and instruction of a software engineer.

    A welder welds metal (and can be very skilled at it) but without the direction of the site engineer as to what to weld and where and when he cannot perform his job.

    BTW when you work out the difference beteen 'programmer' and "programming" then you might be taken seriously.

    If you want your TV fixed you call a TV technician (programmer) if you want to design a TV you call an engineer.

    If you want a house built you call a builder (programmer) if you want a house designed (or sky scraper) you call an engineer.

    If you want a program you call a programmer, if you want a system engineered you call a Systems Engineer.

    need I continue ? or have you worked it out by now ?

    BTW: the best software engineers are the ones who rose from the ranks of programmers.

    Just like the best electronics engineers are the ones that rose up as technicians. As they have the backgroud and experience to support them.

    I have not have to refer to text books on "C" programming or C++ for many years, I have had no need too, most software engineers dont either, nor do they look at standard or specific algorithms. Or look over the shoulder of another company to see what they are doing so you can 'innovate' it yourself.

    That is the sure sign of a hacker, (or backyard repair man) as opposed to someone who developes systems to a formal and quality assured standard.

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