Google and Microsoft legal teams teamed up to fight a lawsuit that was brought on by a company called GeoTag. GeoTag originally was suing more than 300 companies that used either Google’s AdWords or Microsoft’s Bing Ads for local advertising. The suit claimed that the technology used by these companies was an infringement on their geotagging patent.
Google & Microsoft came to the aid of these companies, and filed a suit requesting the courts to confirm that using their services does not infringe on the location-based search patent. The presiding Judge, Richard G. Andrews, sided with the search giants in saying that there was no infringement by the companies using their services. He did not, however, invalidate the patent all together, as Google & Microsoft requested.
The search companies wanted the patent invalided because, they claim, the patent was an obvious result of earlier inventions. The judge wrote in his ruling that whether or not this is true, “remains in dispute and is a genuine material issue in the determination of obviousness.” Essentially this means that he did not feel that it was obvious that the patent owned by GeoTag was only the result of building on previous inventions, and not an original idea itself.
This court decision, however, should comfort anyone who uses local ad services from Google or Microsoft. Companies will no longer be at risk of being sued for using these services. While it was always unlikely that the companies themselves would have been held responsible, businesses never want to be involved in these types of legal situations.
GeoTag is a company that licenses its patented location-based technologies out has not yet released a comment on the verdict.