Earthcomber, an Illinois-based mobile publishing company filed a federal court suit in Chicago, against the following companies: Zilow Real Page, LoopNet, TechCrunch, Zagat among others.
The mobile publishing company claims that the websites infringed on a 2006 patent, "System and method for locating and notifying a user of a person, place or thing having attributes matching the user's stated preferences" (7071842). The patent is about matching people with local preferences, a key to pretty much all current LBS solutions. Earthcomber filed similar suits in past years and claims to have come to agreements, though in at least one case the suit was ultimately dismissed.
James Brady – the founder of Earthcomber – developed a system and method to match users of mobile devices with merchants that are within a defined proximity of the device and meet the stated preferences of the user. These inventions resulted in the issuance of multiple patents, including United States Patent No. 7,071,842, entitled “System and Method for Locating and Notifying a User of a Person, Place or Thing Having Attributes Matching the User’s Stated Preferences,” (“the ‘842 Patent”) and United States Patent No. 7,589,628, entitled “System and Method for Providing Location-Based Information to Mobile Consumers,” (“the ‘628 Patent”).
Earthcomber offers applications for mobile devices that are embodiments of the inventions claimed by the ‘842 and ‘628 Patents and these applications have won acclaim in the industry.
A similar situation arose when mapping was experiencing great growth in real estate; resulting with the National Association of REALTORS® negotiating an industry-wide settlement widely known as CIVIX. In that settlement, a combination of Associations, MLSs, and Vendors paid about $9.06 per agent.