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A tiny Louisiana-based company has accused Microsoft, Google, and AOL of infringing on its 3D imaging patents in their various street mapping efforts. According to TG Daily, Transcenic claims that Google's Street View, Microsoft's StreetSide, and AOL's Mapquest infringes on its patent describing a system for "spatial referenced …

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FAIL

A "spatial referenced photographic system with navigation arrangement"

So like the BBC Domesday project in the 1980s then? Also, the Microsoft TerraSever project started in 1998, before this ridiculous patent was granted. Personally I think patent lawyers should be forced to do something useful with their time rather than just suing each other. It's almost like they have some form of ADHD.

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Big Brother

Submarines, Submarines Everywhere!

And lazy-assed USPTO bureaucrats looking forward to a nice pension package courtesy of the taxpayer, waving arbitary crap through that has been described a least a thousand times before in cheap "cyber" technothrillers.

Ain't the world a great place!

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At least in this case

...it's a tiny troll hitting big targets. It's almost an anonymous thang The instigator will get expensively mashed into the mud, of course, But it will hopefully increase the public perception of the futility of fucking obvious patents.

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T J
Stop

Follows logically

Obvious. Follows logically from the problem. Not patentable.

I hope when the 3 monopolies crush this that it starts an avalance in the patent office.

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Umm...

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I hope when the 3 monopolies ...

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Ummm.... ?

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Trollface

Not Obvious...

Sorry but a good lawyer can argue that its not 'Obvious'. However...

There's definitely prior art going back to the 60s.

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FAIL

Refreshing

Refreshing to see that the US Patents is system is more fundementally fsk'ed than the Babylonian Capitivity of the UK Government under the thumb of Murdoch's Evil Empire.

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Coat

God bless the patent system

Can you imagine that, without the whole patent system, these wonderful innovations would never have been invented, since without patent protection it would not have been worth it to research them?

Mine's the one with the biography of Edison in the pocket.

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Flame

"A tiny Louisiana-based company"

Once again, the fundamental question arises : what is this tiny company making ?

The only products I know that allow me to view a map and plan an itinerary on my computer are Mappy, TomTom Home and, now that I have read this article, Bing.

Nevery heard of anyone else doing it, so I'll wager that this tiny company is nothing but a patent-holder waiting for just this kind of opportunity.

Could we please rewrite patent law to just include the phrase : "if you don't make anything with your patent, you cannot accuse others of infringing" ?

Pretty please ?

Before I snap and start bombing the companies that do this ?

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Unhappy

patents with no product

This is not possible, because small companies looking to collaborate with a big one need some protection from having their ideas absorbed. A patent delivers this protection - but only if the patent is not going to be overturned when challenged. The overgenerous approvals in the IT area is one reason why patents support large companies at the expense of small inventors.

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Stop

What they're making

Trouble, mostly. If they're anything other than an "IP house" I'd be shocked.

I don't know which I find more disgusting: this kind of "patent ambush" where it's obvious you waited to allow the "infringing" product to become well established before sticking your oar in; or the practice of extorting licencing fees from companies using your competitor's product on the vague threat of patent warfare without ever telling anyone WTF the patents you're talking about are.

Both are symptoms of a patent system which needs urgent repair.

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Anonymous Coward

Possible

"This is not possible, because small companies looking to collaborate with a big one need some protection from having their ideas absorbed."

It is possible, but it needs detail. Perhaps it could be time contrained, if no product is launched within a set time using the patent then the patent is invalidated. Maybe two years would be good. And maybe invalidating the patent if any two year period passes without the patent being used. The latter would stop people from abusing the system by releasing a product that nobody would buy for a few weeks and then quietly withdrawing it from the market.

However I don't think this matters in this case as it seems to be yet another patent that fails on the tests of obviousness and prior art.

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Anonymous Coward

Invalid Patents

Here's an idea:

If the patent office grants a patent that subsequently proves to be invalid then the patent office themselves should be liable for all legal fees and damages arising from any action relating to that patent.

That way maybe they would do a decent job on analyzing patent applications.

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Anonymous Coward

They wouldn't care...

The people in the patent office wouldn't care, it not their money, but if they lost their job over a patent that got invalid, they might try harder.

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@Invalid Patents

The trouble is that the fee for filing a patent would then be $10M

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