RIVALS Google and Microsoft have teamed up to set their legal hounds on Geotag, a company that has been suing hundreds of others over its geotagging patent.
The two software giants have watched as many of their client companies have been served with lawsuits from Geotag, a trend that could eventually escalate to attempts to take down Google Maps and Bing Maps, both of which Geotag could accuse of infringing its patent.
The patent is US Patent No. 5,930.474, which was granted in 1999. It relates to an Internet organiser for accessing geographically and topographically based information.
Google and Microsoft are pre-empting any such legal attack by filing a complaint against Geotag, where they hope to invalidate the applicable patent. They are also seeking an injunction to prevent patent infringement lawsuits relating to the two companies' mapping services by Geotag.
Intellectual property gadfly Florian Mueller identified 397 companies that have been sued by Geotag over this patent so far, with the vast majority of the lawsuits having been filed last December.
Geotag's parent company paid a whopping $119 million for the patent two years ago, but it's likely to make a lot more money in licence fees from hundreds of accused infringers, which might include Google and Microsoft if the companies fail to convince the US Patent and Trademark Office that the patent should be scrapped. µ