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US patent application 13/501,392, filed on Oct 12, 2010 and published on Sep 27, 2012.

It appears that the main claim is simply to be able to refer to a latitude/longitude point through a unique identifier, which in turn is persisted in a database of entities for later fetching via “computing devices”.

I believe that this covers any technology which stores locations with a primary key in a database. This is incredibly common and would likely apply to many products like Google Places, Yelp, or Foursquare.

It really boggles my mind that somebody would file a patent for this (as I can think of so many existing products that operate in this manner) and was hoping to see what you guys thought in terms of potential prior art.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It has received a non-final rejection in Feb. 2013. The primary reference cited against it is WO 2007/050884, Anderson. This reference was originally brought to the examiner's attention by the applicant. That application is a PCT application and its claims were seen as anticipated by US 6523116, Berman.

General info on following a case.

To follow a U.S. case go to USPTO Public PAIR. After getting past the Capcha enter either the application number (13/501392 in this case) or publication number 20120246195. Set the radio button to tell it what kind of number you entered. Mind the format examples. For applications filed in the last 10 years or so you will see a tab labeled Image File Wrapper. It has all of the back and forth between applicant and examiner. In this application's case the window for third party published document submission is past. It is the later of 6 months from publication - it looks we are a month past that date - or the mailing of the first office action on the merits. That has already happened also.

To follow PCT applications (they start with WO) go to the WIPO PatentScope database and enter the publication number. It can also be fussy about format. One of the tabs there is "Documents". It is like the image file wrapper but some things are only provided to the public a month or two after they are sent to the applicant.

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Cool, thanks George! How would I be able to access additional information on the processing of this particular patent application? I would like to stay on top of it as much as possible. Also, is it too late to make a third-party submission in this case? –  Luis May 1 '13 at 3:06

For non-patent prior art, a company called whereonearth [1] did exactly this around 2003 or so. They had a database with globally unique WOEIDs ("Where On Earth ID"s) [2] assigned to geographic locations and points of interests, and you could look up a location/POI using a WOEID, or get a list of WOEIDs for a given location. What they did completely anticipates not only the (tentative) independent claim, but pretty much all the dependent claims as well.

I don't know when it was established, but it was bought out by Yahoo! in 2005. If "WOEID"s sound familiar, it's because Yahoo!'s geo API uses WOEIDs to uniquely identify locations points of interests [3].

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whereonearth
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WOEID
  3. http://developer.yahoo.com/geo/geoplanet/guide/concepts.html#woeids
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Thanks for these references! I am definitely familiar with WOEIDs, and have used them in the past while doing field work in Africa. Hopefully the examiners are well aware of this! –  Luis May 1 '13 at 3:08

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