The legal battles continue between Apple and handset makers which manufacture devices that run Google’s Android operating system, with a multitude of court cases popping up around the world. Soon, however, Google and Apple could find themselves unlikely partners, jointly fighting a mapping technology patent owned by Florida-based Panomap Technologies. Apple is the only company named in the lawsuit.
PanoMap claims that Apple iPhones and iPads which use Google’s Street View technology are in violation of US Patent No. 6,563,529, which describes an “interactive system for displaying detailed view and direction in panoramic images.”
PanoMap argues that Google’s Street View is in direct violation of its patent, and is seeking triple the usual damages because both Apple and Google knew of the patent in question but chose to ignore it and proceed with incorporating Street View into Apple products. This claim is backed by the fact that Apple visited a website which displayed the patent in question in 2007, and Google cited the patent in a recent patent application of its own.
While PanoMap certainly owns the rights to the patent in question, the case highlights just how broken the patent system is. Patent No. 6,563,529 was originally issued in 2003 to computer scientist Jerry Jongerius, who held the patent until 2011. Ownership then was sold to holding-company Empire IP, who then transferred the patent to PanoMap earlier this month. In purchasing this patent, PanoMap clearly saw the potential value in litigation against industry juggernauts Google and Apple.
Making matters worse, PaidContent did a bit of research on PanoMap, and sent an inquiry to PanoMap’s lawyers asking if the company even made mapping technology, positing that the company could just be a shell company funded by litigation-mongers. They also reached out to CSA, a company who owns the PanoMap name, but had nothing to do with the lawsuit. The PanoMap which finds itself in court against Apple, therefore, is likely just a patent troll company whose sole purpose is to purchase patents and use them to seek damages for its investors. PanoMap is also using a name trademarked by another company. Rubbish!
We’ll bring you more news about PanoMap v. Apple as the case progresses. Meanwhile, here’s hoping Congress manages to sort out the sorry state of patents sometime this decade.