Google, Microsoft, and AOL have found themselves the target of a lawsuit over a Louisiana company's patent on street-level views in online maps.
Details are fairly sparse, according to the original Reuters report. But Transcenic, which filed the complaint, says that Google Street View, Microsoft Streetside, and AOL's MapQuest all infringe on its patent for “Spatial referenced photographic system with navigation arrangement,” which a quick search shows was filed for in 2000 and granted in 2006.
In plain English, it appears Transcenic holds the patent on taking panoramic images and navigating them, Google Street View-style. The company is seeking both damages and a court order for Google, et al, to stop infringing on their patent.
That said, more searches turn up very little background on Transcenic. The court documents list its business as follows: "Transcenic has developed and continues to develop spatial referenced image capture, organization and display technology, including the patented technology." But as near as I can figure, the company doesn't have so much as a website, which strikes me as odd for a business that's had a patent on file for so long.
That strangeness aside, it appears the patent is real, and so is the lawsuit. None of the companies involved have issued a statement on the case at press time.
And while Google, at least, has its hands full with other legal battles - notably, the hubbub over the now-infamous Google Street View car Wi-Fi snooping incident and the increasingly messy fight against a consortium of rivals over Android IP - Transcenic's lawsuit is just one more headache for the search giant to deal with, and one more settlement to pay out if it loses.