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Thursday, 03 March 2011 12:33

Google and Microsoft team up to hit patent troll

Written by Nick Farell


Geotagging patent war
Google and Microsoft have joined forces to take down a Texas company's geotagging patent which they say has been used in lawsuits against nearly 400 outfits.

The two companies want to protect Google Maps and Bing Maps but it does mean that finally there are some big guns fighting the outfit. The patent is US Patent No. 5,930,474, and it has the catchy title "of Internet organizer for accessing geographically and topically based information".

It was applied for in 1996 and granted in 1999. Microsoft and Google say there was prior art at the time of filing that the USPTO didn't take into account. According to the FOSSPATENTS blog  Geotag have sued more than 397 outfits and most of them in eight suits filed in December 2010 and another 15 in two suits filed in July 2010.

Analyst Florian Mueller said the patent has changed hands several times. Other owners were based in tax havens like Liechtenstein, the West Indies, and the British Virgin Islands. About two years ago it was bought by GeoTag for $119 million and the suing began.

Nick Farell

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