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
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2011 @ 8:37am

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

    What does an administrative assistant do that a secretary doesn't? They both answer phones, set schedules, keep their bosses on track for the day, does filing, etc. etc. The main difference is you don't see many male secretaries because it's a "female job". The only thing I could maybe see being vastly different is a secretary probably sits down more than an assistant, but that doesn't change the main parts of the job. Overall, a secretary is just an assistant.

    But any programmer worth his salt knows the working on the highest level is the easiest ;)

    The only time software needs to be 100% bug-free is when someone's life is on the line if it isn't. I suppose all the people working on Windows, Linux, every other major program for users that aren't risking their life is the program crashes aren't software engineers then. I'll be sure to let them all know. Accepting some amount of bugs is required for any big project to be released on time, but feel free to keep working away while you squash all the small bugs in your path while someone else finishes a good enough program and gets paid.

    As for a software engineer having more experience than a programmer, a first year college student can easily get a software engineer internship (which is halfway to a full software engineer or even coop as a software engineer, meaning their full title is "Software Engineer". Not intern, not programmer, but your glorious title. It's just a title.

    And honestly it doesn't matter how big your epeen is because you've been programming since 1978 in binary and yada yada yada. Anyone can write software in binary since whatever year after they were born, it doesn't make it GOOD software. Projects matter, not time. As they say, it's the motion of the ocean that matters, not the length of the boat.

    I agree with you that mission critical systems need to have as few bugs as possible (preferably none), but the perfectionist attitude doesn't actually cut it for everyday needs (such as Windows, Linux, your web browser, etc.).

    Your whole argument is basically that a person's skills are based on their title and vice versa, but that's not the case at all. You probably wouldn't even be a system/software engineer if it weren't for those "backyard hobbyist hackers" that practically made personal computing possible.

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