Florida-based PanoMap has sued both Apple and Google over the Street View feature in Google Maps. The company claims that Street View violates a patent the company holds for an “interactive system for displaying detailed view and direction in panoramic images.” PanoMap is asking for treble damages since it believes that both companies knew about the patent but ignored it.
According to PaidContent, a suit was filed in an Orlando federal court regarding the mapping technology used in Street View. The patent in question is US Patent No. 6,563,529 which was originally filed by Jerry Jongerius in October 1999 and awarded in 2003. The abstract reads:
A method and system for indicating the camera position, direction, and field of view in a map or panoramic image comprises a map image window which displays a map or panoramic image of the site to be studied (house, apartment, city, etc.). A detailed view window displays a portion of the map image, taken from a point in the site. A highlighted sector in the map image represents the viewing position, direction, and field of view that the detailed view window displays. When the user changes the field of view in the detailed view window, the highlighted sector in the map image changes in synchronism. The resulting interactive windows allow a person to easily and quickly view and understand the field of view, position, and direction of the image being displayed in the detail view window.
PanoMap claims that Google has cited the patent in question in one of its own patent applications recently. They also claim that Apple knew of the patent back in 2007 when they visited a website that displayed the patent. Google Maps, and the Street View feature, are part of every iPhone and iPad.
Patent 6,563,529 has a bit of a history. It was awarded to Jerry Jongerius in 2003, but then transferred last year to Empire IP, a shell company. Just a few weeks ago, it was transferred again to PanoMaps.
The nature of PanoMaps as a company is a bit unclear. It could be another shell company, often referred to as a “patent troll,” or it could be tied to an Atlanta-based company that makes devices for architects. This company, CSA, owns the PanoMap mark, but has stated tha it is not suing Google/Apple. So it’s possible that a patent troll is using a trademarked name to press this suit.