Last year I had a relatively close look at a number of patents owned by mapping provider deCarta. I provided some perspective on location and mobility and the broader marketplace. The patents (see below) were about location on mobile devices and some also had “social” aspects and implications (i.e., locating mobile users in proximity to one another).
Earlier this year they were sold to Google apparently. I just discovered this on Marc Prioleau’s blog.
Prioleau discusses the patents at a general level and argues they’re quite broad. Bill Slawski provides abstracts and a bit more detail. The following are links to the patents in the USPTO database:
- Method for providing matching and introduction services to proximate mobile users and service providers
- Method and system for selectively connecting mobile users based on physical proximity
- System and method for initiating responses to location-based events
- Method and system for automatically initiating a telecommunications connection based on distance
- Method and system for connecting mobile users based on degree of separation
- Method and system for connecting proximately located mobile users based on compatible attributes
- Method and system for analyzing advertisements delivered to a mobile unit
Prioleau says that the patents were filed originally (in 2001, 2002) by a company called Gravitate, which was later acquired by the company that became deCarta.
My reading of the patents — I’m not a patent expert — is also that they have potentially broad implications. Ironically, deCarta is Google Maps’ direct competitor. I’m sure as part of any deal deCarta acquired a license to use the IP in perpetuity.
Google might have acquired them for defensive purposes. Or perhaps its Motorola division will mount another attack on Apple using them at some point.