According to information reported by the law firm Crowell & Moring, a patent infringement lawsuit has been filed by Geotag, Inc. against unspecified defendents but alleged to be retailers that use a geographic locator function for stores in violation of U.S. Patent No. 5,930,474. The "474" patent, in its abstract filed with the U. S. Patent Office and approved on July 29, 1999 states, "a software interface organizes information predicated upon the geographical area of the resources about which the information is desired. A user is presented with a 'view point' map which may comprise, for example, an actual visually displayed map of a selected geographical area, or text information which pertains to the resources associated with the geographical area."
According to Crowell and Moring's newsletter, "These new lawsuits allege that the '474 Patent applies to store locator functions on websites. In effect, the lawsuits allege that, every time a PC user searches online for the closest bricks-and-mortar location of a retailer, the '474 Patent is infringed. Geotag has apparently obtained $20 million in financing to support these lawsuits and has brought the litigation in a federal court regarded as generally friendly to patent trolls. Retailers should take this litigation very seriously as it is likely to be pursued aggressively by Geotag."
These are obviously important allegations and could impact every website utilizing geocoding of point locations for retail, real estate or other business function. We'll keep you posted as we find out more information.