July 12, 2005

US Patent on Real Estate Search and Location System

Ok.. Here's an interesting one for any of you developers creating apps that drill down to more detailed imagery and provide solutions for locating real estate. Turns out that a 1991 patent covers off that technology and as a result some legal action is being taken against a real estate agent. Imagine if this one flies? Do you realize how many real estate agents have implemented similar functionality into their website? What about companies like RealBird who also have commercial products based on the same premise? Details of the patent are below:

The U.S. Patent (No. 5,032,989), "Real Estate Search and Location System and Method," was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1991, at a time when the commercial use of the Internet was in its infancy. It covers a mapping system "for locating available real estate properties for sale, lease or rental using a database of available properties at a central location and remote stations which use a graphic interface," according to the document. The patent also includes a "drilldown" feature, under which specific areas can be displayed in greater detail -- The PR is also listed in detail here http://www.gisuser.com/content/view/6274/

What's your take on this? Imagine holding a patent on searching for hotels, parks, or ??? Seems kind of crazy if you ask me

Cheers... Glenn

3 comments:

MOSES said...

HI I'M MOSES...
AND I WNAT LEAVE A COMENTARY IN YOUR BLOG WHO'S GREAT^^ ALL TEXTS HAVW HERE ARE GOOD VERY COOLL REALLY..
WHEN YOU CAN GO IN MY BLOG TOO
mosessandes.blogspot.com/

THANKS
GOOD NIGHT

Anonymous said...

Thanks Moses... that's really useful... NOT!

Kyle said...

Patent law is a messy business. How long this particular patent holds up will largely depend on how much recources Realpro, Ltd. (the patent assignee) has.

The typical defense to patent infringement goes something like this: "First, we didn't do it (noninfringement). Even if we did, it doesn't matter (unenforcability). Besides, it isn't a valid patent anyways. (misuse/invalidity)." There are a myriad of ways to defend against a patent infringement lawsuit, and I expect that the really big realty companies will have the funds to do so.

Remember, to infringe upon a patent EVERY part of an independant claim must be infringed upon. To get around this patent, all you might need to do is design your software so they never have a map up, select an area having boundries, then zoom in on it. Just find a reasonably different method of getting the job done and you're set.

If Realpro has a lot of cash to fight this, then maybe just getting a license would be cheaper. If they don't, they will find themselves outgunned before the fight even begins.