Google, Microsoft Cooperate To Invalidate Broad Online Mapping Patent

It’s reasonable to say that the world of technology patents is screwed up and headed for some major reform. One area in which this is very apparent is location/mapping/geo.

There are a number of seemingly conflicting or contradictory local and local-mobile patents that have been issued over the past several years. Some of these patents were issued to small companies and some are owned or were acquired by giants like Google and Microsoft. Now Redmond and Mountain View have joined forces to fight a common foe: a small company in Texas that holds a potentially sweeping mapping patent.

The Texas company GeoTag, Inc. has filed infringement suites against hundreds of companies that are using Google or Bing Maps — in many cases to show store locations. The patent was issued in 1999 and is entitled “Internet organizer for accessing geographically and topically based information.

The patent, like so many, is full of expansive and vague language that would seem to implicate almost everything that is “geo” online. At a minimum GeoTag’s position appears to be that the patent covers the display of any online (and presumably mobile) information on a map.

According to Bloomberg:

GeoTag has filed at least eight lawsuits in federal court in Marshall, Texas, against 300 companies. Some companies are demanding that Microsoft and Google defend them and cover any losses, according to the complaint filed yesterday.

Google and Microsoft are seeking a judgment that their products and technologies don’t infringe the patent or that the patent is invalid because there was conflicting prior art. If that finding were to be made by a court it would also invalidate the underlying lawsuits against the many companies GeoTag is going after.

According to the article the patent has been sold several times in the past. The current owner, GeoTag, is planning in IPO. This patent and its potential enforceability is a key to perception of the company’s future value among investors.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Legal | Google: Maps & Local | Legal: Patents | Microsoft: Bing Maps & Local


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide