Verizon Gets a Taste of Its Own Medicine

by on June 12, 2007 · 2 comments

I can’t work up much sympathy for the defendant in this particular case, but the continued abuse of the patent system is still worrying. Mike has the goods:

A patent holding company named Geomas has the rights to a broad and obvious patent on location-based search that just about every local search or online yellow pages site probably violates. The company has apparently raised $20 million from some of the growing list of investment firms drooling over the innovation-killing patent-hoarding lawsuit rewards and is kicking things off by suing Verizon for daring to put its phone book online in the form of Superpages.com. 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 in everyone’s favorite courthouse for patent hoarding lawsuits in Marshall, Texas. 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. Does anyone actually believe that without this patent Verizon wouldn’t have thought to put its yellow pages solution online or that Google wouldn’t think of creating a local search tool? That seems difficult to believe.

  • http://mark.atwood.name/ Mark Atwood

    In the mid-90s, at the very starting edge of the dotcom boom, I was the lead tech guy behind a project, we put a nationwide yellow pages database on the web, ypol.com.

    At the time, nobody else had done it, but we were sure that many other people had had the same idea. And since it’s rare for someone to care about finding a plumber or locksmith in another state in the middle of the night, of course I had location based searches from the start.

    It was, in fact, my first real encounter with using Oracle, Sybase, and using Perl to interface to a DB. (This was before Perl5, so there was no DBI module, so it was all oraperl.)

    I’m pretty damn sure my old YPOL project is prior art. I’m even willing to testify on that point …

  • http://mark.atwood.name/ Mark Atwood

    In the mid-90s, at the very starting edge of the dotcom boom, I was the lead tech guy behind a project, we put a nationwide yellow pages database on the web, ypol.com.

    At the time, nobody else had done it, but we were sure that many other people had had the same idea. And since it’s rare for someone to care about finding a plumber or locksmith in another state in the middle of the night, of course I had location based searches from the start.

    It was, in fact, my first real encounter with using Oracle, Sybase, and using Perl to interface to a DB. (This was before Perl5, so there was no DBI module, so it was all oraperl.)

    I’m pretty damn sure my old YPOL project is prior art. I’m even willing to testify on that point …

Previous post:

Next post: