Google Earth News: Google Wins Patent Dispute

Remember a year ago when Skyline Software asked a court to have Google shut down Google Earth because it infringed on their patent? Well, a court has decided Google Earth does not infringe a patent issued by Skyline Software in 2002. Here are the details from the Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO- Online search leader Google Inc. has won a key court ruling in a patent dispute over its popular three-dimensional software that provides Internet tours of the Earth.

In a summary judgment issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock in Massachusetts decided that Google Earth doesn’t infringe on a patent issued to Skyline Software Systems Inc. in 2002.
Skyline, a privately held company in Chantilly, Va., had been pursuing a patent infringement claim since 2004 when it first sued Keyhole Inc., whose technology powers Google Earth. Mountain View-based Google bought Keyhole for an undisclosed amount in October 2004.
Keyhole’s 3-D technology powers mapping software that ranks among Google’s biggest successes outside of its search engine. Google said its Earth software has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
Skyline had been seeking unspecified damages as well as a court order to prevent Google from using the technology allegedly covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,496,189.
“From the beginning, we felt confident that Google Earth’s technology does not infringe Skyline’s patent,” Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes said Wednesday.
Skyline didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment late Wednesday.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.



Comments

  1. It is perhaps more instructive and interesting to read the court opinion:
    http://pacer.mad.uscourts.gov/dc/opinions/woodlock/pdf/skyline%2006-10980%20march%207%202007.pdf
    excerpts from Justice Douglas P. Woodlock:
    “To succeed on its motion for summary judgment, Skyline must show that the accused Google Earth products infringe on the particular system described in the ’189 patent. The “renderer” is at the core of that system. The failure to identify some thing [italics] that performs the functions of the renderer is fatal to Skyline’s motion for summary judgement on Claim 1.”
    “Even if I consider the Google Earth Enterprise suite as a whole, and view the Google Earth Client as the “renderer,” Skyline’s claim fails, because the Google Earth Server, the nonrenderer
    entity, does not pass back coordinates in the terrain or resolution levels to the Google Earth Client, as required by Claim 1; it passes back files.”
    “Skyline identifies several places where functions or tasks required of the renderer are performed. However, identifying a set of tasks which are performed is not the same as identifying an object which performs a set of tasks…”
    “…even if all of the steps described as part of the renderer are performed at some point in the Google Earth code, a contention disputed by Google, Skyline has pointed to no evidence that an identifiable “renderer” exists. Consequently, Google is entitled to summary judgment of noninfringement on the ground that the accused products do not contain a distinct renderer, as required by Claim 1.”

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