Local Search Patent Holder Threatens Everybody

    June 12, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Verizon is first on a London-based company’s list of lawsuits to file (or licensing agreements to be extracted) after winning the rights to a 1999 patent for location-based search. Next up: any online service offering local search services.

Wired’s Michael Myser breaks the news that the company Geomas filed suit against Verizon and lovechild Idearc over Superpages.com, which acts as an online phone book.

The company’s founder Jason Galanis says lawsuits won’t always be necessary, but a payout will be. Galanis filed suit in a Texas federal court, where a judge ruled the case could go on to the discovery phase.

If successful, this case could be one of the most impacting search-related suits since Google had to hand over 2.7 million shares to Yahoo in 2004 (adding to Yahoo’s IPO grab of 5.5 million Google shares – an interesting tidbit all its own).

Does it have a snowball’s chance in patent suit hell? Not everyone’s sure. According to TechDirt’s Mike Masnick, there may be precedent to prevent it from proceeding.

"This is the type of patent that should be tossed out following the Supreme Court’s Teleflex ruling, but for now it’s wasting plenty of time and money….While the article notes that it may have been "new" to think about creating location-based search when the patent was filed, that doesn’t account for whether or not it was an obvious next-step."

The Teleflex ruling to which he refers requires patents to be put to an "obviousness test."