Microsoft And Google Team Up To Go After Mapping Patent Troll

Google Maps

It takes a lot to get Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to cooperate on anything these days. The two companies seem ready to spar over anything and everything, from online privacy, to which web video format is best, to allegations over copying search results. It’s hard to believe anything could make the two companies cooperate, but an aggressive “patent troll” called GeoTag, which has sued more than 300 companies for basic uses of Bing Maps and Google Maps, has caused the two arch-rivals to join forces.

Google and Microsoft are co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Delaware federal court, whcih seeks to invalidate GeoTag’s patent.

GeoTag is a pure patent-licensing operation, a type of lawsuit-based business that sometimes gets derided as “patent troll.” While most such companies are private, GeoTag has filed papers with the SEC to have its stock sold on public markets.

The company filed its first batch of lawsuits in July 2010, and then followed up with several more that were filed in December. Nearly all of the targets appear to be companies that use either Google Maps or Bing Maps to provide store location services or similar navigation aids. For example, one suit filed against chain restaurants included patent claims against Chili’s, Popeye’s Chicken, Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX), Burger King, and California Pizza Kitchen. Another suit includes Match.com, Caterpillar, and supermarket chains like Kroger and Food 4 Less.

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