Microsoft, Google join forces to challenge GeoTag patent

Summary:The tech giants have asked a court to invalidate the geolocation patent, which has been used by GeoTag to sue customers that use the Bing and Google Maps mapping services

Microsoft and Google have teamed up to challenge a patent held by GeoTag — a geolocation technology company — that has been used to sue more than 300 other businesses.

Microsoft campus

Microsoft has joined forces with Google to challenge a patent held by GeoTag that has been used to sue more than 300 other businesses. Photo credit: TechFlash Todd on Flickr

The technology giants said the lawsuit, filed in District Court of Delaware on Tuesday, is a result of the hundreds of suits GeoTag has lodged claiming those businesses infringe on the patent, which relates to geotagging technology. Many of the existing lawsuits are with customers of the Bing Maps and Google Maps services, the filing said.

"The suits have placed a cloud on Plaintiffs' web mapping services, have caused customers to seek relief from the Plaintiffs, and have created a justiciable controversy between Plaintiffs and GeoTag," the filing said.

Microsoft and Google are requesting that the court invalidate the patent held by GeoTag — US Patent 5,930,474, an "internet organiser for accessing geographically and topically based information" — and are requesting a judgement of non-infringement.

The companies have also asked the court for a "preliminary and permanent injunction", which, if granted, would prevent GeoTag from suing their mapping service customers in the future.

This is not the first time that the two technology giants have come together to fight a patent. On 2 February, Google filed an Amicus Curiae brief in Microsoft's case against i4i over alleged patent infringements. An Amicus Curiae filing is one made by a company not party to the litigation, but who believes the court's decision may affect its interests.

"In this case, we are seeing two giants who separate their fierce competition in various fields from a common interest in curbing trollish behaviour," Florian Mueller, founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, said in a blog post.

We are seeing two giants who separate their fierce competition in various fields from a common interest in curbing trollish behaviour.

– Florian Mueller, NoSoftwarePatents

In November, GeoTag applied to the Securities and Exchange Commission to be floated publically on the stock market, in search of finance for its operations.

"GeoTag, Inc's corporate website presents the business as a technology company, but quite tellingly, that patent is listed prominently on the front page... Google's and Microsoft's joint action hopefully comes at the right time to prevent further damage," Mueller added.

Google is currently fighting multiple patent suits, including one against Oracle over alleged infringements concerning Google's implementation of Java in the Android operating system.

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Topics: Government : UK


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