Friday, January 25, 2008

Are Apple, RIM, and Google All Infringing This GPS/Cellphone Patent?

Today, MocoNews and Silicon Alley Insider reported that Smarter Agent Raised $6.2 Million in First Round in venture capital. This would not be of particular note were it not for the fact that on their website, Smarter Agent claims several GPS/Phone related patents. The patents seem to be incredibly broad, and essentially cover anything useful one might do with a GPS and a cell phone.

It appears that, in essence, the patents cover a phone providing current location information to a remote database which returns to the phone a collection of location centric information. According to the patent application, this location centric information could include real estate information, such as homes, condominiums, etc, but also parks, restaurant menus, services offered, hotels, hotel availability, and on and on.

This would seem to cover what the iPhone now does with Google Maps, as well as the GPS equipped Blackberry, and upcoming Google Android operating system based phones. If the patents are valid, Apple, Google, and RIM are already infringing.

I have included below a link to the patent as well as the abstract, and claim #1, which is the most broad of the claims in the patent.

Patent # 6,496,776
December 17, 2002

A system and method retrieve location-centric information. The method includes providing geographic position information of a wireless device to an information system or database and receiving location identifiers based on the geographic position. Each location identifier has related location-centric information that can be viewed by the user of the wireless device.

Claim #1
A method of retrieving location-centric information, comprising: providing information related to a geographic position of a wireless device to an information system; receiving from said information system at least one location identifier based on said geographic position information, said location identifier being representative of a landmark proximate to said geographic position; and receiving location-centric information from said information system, said location-centric information related to said landmark proximate to the geographic position.


  1. This patent is no threat to anyone. There is a lot of relevant prior art.


  2. Hey Michael,

    What prior art are you referring to. I would be interested in being able to clarify the invalidity of the claim based on prior art.

  3. Look in the ubiquitous computing area for geolocation work integrated with database lookup and automated responses to mobile devices or sensors. The nature of the content delivered is irrelevant because of obviousness tests. Likewise, the precise nature of the device (a cell phone vs. a computer or something else) will not be that important.

    It would probably take a couple of days of work to definatively break the patent, but I have no doubt about the outcome.


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