More on the Encyclopedia Britannica mapping patent suit

Not a whole lot more has come out in the news this morning, but I have looked up Encyclopedia Britannica’s patents listed on Patent Monkey website, and the main one in question would seem to be US Patent No. 7,051,018 B2, which was awarded on May 23, 2006, and states that:

“The invention claimed is:
1. A computerized map system, comprising: a computer readable storage medium; computer software stored on the storage medium and operable to: cause an image of at least a portion of a map to be displayed on a display screen; provide a zoom feature wherein portions of the map can be viewed on the display screen in various scales; provide a pan feature wherein the user may provide input to cause the map image on the display screen to pan in a plurality of directions; display a plurality of place indicators on the display screen, wherein a specific place indicator indicates the position of a place on the map and indicates that further information about the place is available; display text information associated with a first one of the plurality of place indicators in response to input from a user indicating selection of the first place indicator; provide a text browse feature that allows the user to browse a first list of places, select a first place from the first list, and display an image of a part of the map indicating the location of the first place in response to input from the user; and provide a text search feature that allows the user to enter textual search information to search for a second place, receive a second list of places in response to the search, select a second place from the second list of places, and display an image of a part of the map indicating the location of the second place in response to input from the user.”

This might offer some explanation as to why they are suing TomTom and Magellan, which use cached maps stored on media and displayed on a custom device. If that’s true, and I am in no way versed in the ways of patent law, then they aren’t only ones who would be infringing, since the description sounds like a lot of handheld and in-car navigation devices out there.

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