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back to article Google in new Maps patent row - but not with Apple

Wi-Fi location database biz Skyhook has launched fresh legal action against Google, claiming the advertising giant's maps service infringes nine of its geo-location patents. Skyhook has tried before to land Google in trouble by alleging in a Massachusetts court that the web goliath's Android operating system forces mobile phone …

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Boffin

Skyhook claimed that Google forced mobile-makers to stop using Skyhook if they wanted to keep using the Android OS

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the "Android" trademark and associated Google services (e.g. Play, Gmail, Maps etc...).

Small detail but important nonetheless - anyone can make use of the actual "Android OS". They just can't call it Android and offer Google Apps.

Not condoning their action if Skyhook's accusations are true but they are as yet unproven - and last I time I check Skyhook is free to compete against Google and all the other location apps on the Play store. They're also free to partner with anyone using (unbranded) Android.

Personally I'd rather their app was not installed by default on any device I own but that's just me - I like being able to choose my own apps on a vanilla platform.

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Black Helicopters

Hmm. Coincidence?

So, just after iOS 6 ships with a heavily publicised standalone mapping application (albeit one that looks terrible in comparison to Google Maps), a company pops out of the woodwork to sue Google and get an injunction against their mapping system.

Maybe Apple has taken up the Microsoft tactic of sponsoring lawsuits...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

your level of cynicism is comforting

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

Well, it is to say the least surprising that they are suing Google about it only now. It's not like it was a secret that Google used wifi for geolocation…

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TRT
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Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

as do Apple.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

I shall put on my very best tinfoil hat and give it a polish to say this.

It could be Google sponsoring the lawsuit....

How so? Well, Google get Skyhook to sue them. Google settles with Skyhook and agrees licensing. Now, we all know how much Apple hate to be beholden to third parties and insist on controlling everything themselves, so Apple then ensure that WiFi based location does not go into Apple maps to avoid having to license the (now with legal precedent) Skyhook patents.

Endgame: Apple maps is never as good as Google maps.....

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FAIL

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

Also, aren't Microsoft upto the same thing?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TeeCee

Ingenious! Just hold there one second. I'm going to make 2 businesses. One will sue the other for making a "phone" that they own a "patent for", and make a licensing deal (in court). This will set a legal precedent, and I can rake in the money for ever more of every mobile device maker ever.

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Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

Well, Skyhook did kick off the legal spat last year, didn't they?

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FAIL

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

Had you reads the whole article you'd know this isn't the first time they went after google. Then you could have saved yourself the effort it took to post that piffle.

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Thumb Up

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

Awesome. I suppose then Google could buy Skyhook and have the pre-validated patent too!

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Thumb Up

Re: Hmm. Coincidence?

Holy cow, that's damn cunning.

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Re: TeeCee

You can't I have a business method patent on doing precisely that

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Happy

Re: TeeCee

Don't shoot the messenger, sue Google!

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FAIL

Here we go again...

Put a big wall around the US and let them stew in their abortion of a patent system. When everyone has sued everyone else and no one innovates then we will see what happens. Meanwhile, the rest of the world (except possibly germany due to their quite frankly idiot judgements on patents recently) will get on swimmingly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again...

I like this plan, mainly because I'm an out-of-work-ish (temporary contact) dev and think of all the job opportunities that'll be available rebuilding all of Google/Microsoft''s services etc.

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HMB
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WiFi geolocation is just bloody obvious to me. It's just landmarks but in radio space.

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FAIL

Obvious Indeed

1. Get a MAC address / SSID

2. Look up in database

3. If found, read location

4. Else, if current location is known, save information to database

Go on then, sue me!

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Anonymous Coward

So why aren't you the patent holder?

Hindsight is a wonder thing.

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Bronze badge

So why aren't you the patent holder?

People have been doing this in the visual spectrum for many thousands of years. Why does a switch to the wireless spectrum make it patentable?

Hindsight is a wonder thing.

Perhaps I should copyright the term "Hindwifi" then.

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Anonymous Coward

"So why aren't you the patent holder?"

Maybe he lives somewhere sensible that don't have software patents? Also, WiFiFoFum which was available on PocketPC 2000 (named so because of the year of it's release) could log access point locations, that's 3 years before SkyHook Wireless was founded so yes, "Hindsight is a wonder thing."

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HMB
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I'll tell you Anonymous Coward, why I haven't patented it.

1) I've had no requirement to think about it.

2) Patents are NOT supposed to protect the obvious

3) I have lots of thoughts which are obvious and if I wanted to patent them all I'd need to raise a MASSIVE amount of cash to do so. The only way I can see how to do this is by stealing some ideas, passing them off as my own in order to start a company in IT. Wait a minute, not original, that's what both Microsoft & Apple did in the 80s. Hello Irony!!

I love this video link so much I'm going to paste it again (it's perfectly relevant, promise):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU

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FAIL

Patent fail again

How can you patent shit like this. Location finding by knowing the location of radio transmitters is at least 70 years old.

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Pint

Re: Patent fail again

Certainly. When I was a lad the captain of spaceship Hawkwind used to navigate by use of the transmissions from pulsars.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patent fail again

If you can't patent it then you won't succeed in starting a business doing it, simple as that.

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Re: If you can't patent it then you won't succeed in starting a business doing it, simple as that.

Millions of people successfully run innovative businesses without patenting what they do. Most of the world lived quite happily without the stupidity of software patents or patenting business practices.

RDF is not a new technology, and even when it was invented I'm sure that those involved would have considered it "obvious" and therefore not something that you are allowed to try and patents anyway. Designs for practical implementations and antennas they'd likely have wanted to patent but the idea? No I don't think so.

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Anonymous Coward

No surprises really

As proven by St. Steve in the past Android is a stolen product. This is just further evidence of that

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Boffin

Re: No surprises really

Please drink the Cool-Aid now. Drink it now so we can all be spared from your drivel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No surprises really

Flavor-Aid. If you're going to reference mass suicide, at least get the drink name correct.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No surprises really

Yep, he seems to have confused his Merry Pranksters with his Peoples Temple. LSD != Cyanide.

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FAIL

"Google's map app - which was recently thrown off Apple's iOS platform"

Will you people please finally get it!?

The app which was on iOS up to iOS 5 was not an app from Google, but an app from Apple, using Google data.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Google's map app - which was recently thrown off Apple's iOS platform"

IE

"Apple Maps, which recently stopped using Google's data"... Which basically makes the comment null and void, because Apple never used Googles code?

"Apple Maps, which went from great, to poor" seems closer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Google's map app - which was recently thrown off Apple's iOS platform"

It was cloud based and so vastly dependant on Google's map service.

Who cares who made it.

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Silver badge

Re: "Google's map app - which was recently thrown off Apple's iOS platform"

"Apple Maps, which recently stopped using Google's data"... Which basically makes the comment null and void, because Apple never used Googles code?"

Yeah they just hire the Google Maps team....

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Silver badge

I'm in shock

"Now Skyhook claims that Google wilfully infringed on its patents, which it found out about during talks between the two companies. Google's map app - which was recently thrown off Apple's iOS platform - can look to nearby Wi-Fi networks to work out where the user is, provided the networks' locations are known to the search engine.

"Google has been aware of Skyhook's patent portfolio since at least 2005, when Michael Shean, Skyhook's senior vice president, communicated with various Google employees regarding Skyhook's patented wireless location technology," the complaint states.

"Mr Shean further met and communicated with additional Google employees in 2006 and 2007 regarding Skyhook's wireless location technology.""

What they never noticed the option in Android where you decide to use location services as part of the setup.

There has been an option for that for as long as I can see.

On top of that Google have been in the news for years for slurping data from wifi routers, what the hell have this company been doing? if they have valid patents on this then they should have sorted it or been in court ages ago.

This looks to me like another company desperate to get one of 3 results, a big payoff to go away, Google to buy their patents for big money again to get them to go away or for some other company to buy them for trolling purposes....

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Devil

Re: I'm in shock

"This looks to me like another company desperate to get one of 3 results, a big payoff to go away, Google to buy their patents for big money again to get them to go away or for some other company to buy them for trolling purposes...."

I can almost hear Apple checking their balance now ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Legal notice

My SSID is a work of art and hence copyrighted IP. It may not be stored in any information retrieval system without explicit written permission. That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

How can you patent triangulation. I could understand a copyright of the particular code... depending on what was claimed to be copied, but this is nuts.

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Silver badge

They don't the, patent probably includes somewhere in clause 87, some novel step about eg. adding a hash of the SSID and approx location to the database to speed up the search of possible nearby wifis

Patents are very rarely about the headline use, it's almost always about one tiny step in the implementation.

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WTF?

Bloody 'ell...

ONCE UPON A TIME (evidently in a land far FAR away), there was the concept of building a better mousetrap. Competition, commerce, and the most popular product (sadly, not necessarily the best product) would win, at least until something better came along.

Now, egotistical CEOs can't stand competition, somebody somewhere would claim to own the patent to mousetraps in order to prevent anybody anywhere ever building another mousetrap again without licencing. But, folks, that's not all. Somebody else would pop up claiming to own the patent for a piece of wood with notches in it, yet another person would have the patent for a spring, and finally there would be another person wanting cash for the concept of a bit of metal resting against another to act as a trigger.

Now this is all good and well, maybe, except for the small detail that not only are patents used to try to gain exclusive rights over something (even if that something is independently created and just looks similar), but it is worse yet. The people wanting others to pony up cash neither need to be the creators of said marvellous invention, nor even have any plans to commercialise it. In fact, it may be that an entity can shake you for monies for patents that aren't even valid - how many companies can afford to take it to court each time some maggot comes crawling from the woodwork? It's like Mafia 101 applied to the world of international business; and as such I would concur with Jim Booth's comment above - let US corporate stew in its own effluent for a while...

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Unhappy

How did they score those patents

The British had multiple signal GEE radio-location since WWII -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEE_%28navigation%29

and the Americans had the derivative LORAN -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEE_%28navigation%29

Prior Art, much?

Just doing the same thing at shorter range isn't exactly non-obvious.

Bloody useless brain-dead patent office to blame, as is so often the case.

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Silver badge

Re: How did they score those patents

You've read and analysed all the claims then?

Or just read the reg headline?

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Happy

Believe it or don't. Triangulating position once helped ships and planes navigate.

How soon they forget. Location by triangulating radio signals. What a concept, it was called LORAN.

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Anonymous Coward

I really, really miss Google Maps in my iphone...

.. @%#$%$ you! APPLE!!!

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Holmes

I remember a BOFH episode from 2003

using the basic idea, with bluetooth dongles to provide better granularity through the building

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/08/11/802_11bofh/

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Happy

I am going to copyright my ....

MAC addresses and sue everyone who uses them under the US DCMA. Getting all my “DMCA takedown notices” ready.

Perhaps DECCA will dig out it's patents with respect to Decca Navigator technology, as well as HiFix, for it was big in circular radiation patterns, phases, etc.. They also were encoded with ID. That would shut Skyhook up.

Decca rises from the dead!

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