Microsoft and Google, in a quite unexpected case of cooperation, launched a lawsuit which attempts to shut down patent troll GeoTag. The suit, which is based in Delaware, asks in court for the invalidation of GeoTag’s lone patent, a claim from 1996, to an “Internet organizer for accessing geographically and topically based information” founded on prior art existence. GeoTag has sued 397 companies in ten different complaints which cover online store locators of many retailers, most of them not being technology firms, but including AT&T, Radio Shack and GameStop.
The two companies launching the countersuit are aiming to close the patent in order to prevent GeoTag from suing them over their Google Maps and Bing Maps services. Both allow site visitors searching for local stores and might fit under the patent description in case this one was upheld.
GeoTag claims to be based in Texas in order to improve its interaction with local courts, as they are historically inclined to side with the company owning the patent. It however shows the classic signs of a patent troll because it was earlier owned in three different tax havens around the world. It was bought for $119 million for profiting solely off of the patent. GeoTag is known as not having any products or services of its own.
The lawsuit might potentially be critical to those users of either Microsoft or Google map data beyond the two companies, including engines built into Apple’s Maps on iOS devices and webOS. GeoTag has made public the filings and has raised capital from an initial public offering. Therefore, it could have a sufficient financial base to sue companies like Microsoft, Google and others.