One Thing Microsoft And Google Agree On


Photo: AlexEdg via Flickr

Rivals Microsoft and Google are teaming up to sue Geotag, which has sued about 400 companies for violating a patent that it acquired a couple years ago. The patent covers a method for putting store information on a map, and both companies argue that it should never have been granted because of prior art.As Ars Technica reports, the patent itself has been passed around from owner to owner over the years. Geotag was spun out of an Antiguan firm that purchased it for $119 million. The company has a Web site, but its only asset seems to be the patent, and it doesn’t have any products for sale.

Microsoft and Google both have customers who use the Bing Maps and Google Maps APIs on their Web sites, so the companies are trying to prevent Geotag from suing these customers while also challenging the patent.

The definition of a “patent troll” is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but it’s interesting that Geotag is based in Plano, Texas, where the newest federal courthouse for the Eastern District of Texas was opened in 2008. To put it as gently as possible, that district has a history of being extremely favourable to small plaintiffs in patent infringement suits.

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