HELP SAVE MOBILE SEARCH - This application from Google seeks to patent a system for finding open stores which are located near a user at the time of a search! 10 minutes of your time can narrow US Patent Applications. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before October, 2011 that discusses:

  1. Receiving a search request from a mobile user that includes both the current time AND the location of the user;
  2. Identifying businesses which are currently open and located near the user; and
  3. Returning a search result page indicating a subset of businesses as currently open.

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. Only one piece of prior art per answer below. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual

EXTRA CREDIT - A reference to anything that meets all of the criteria to the question above AND ALSO uses estimated travel time to estimate whether the business is “close enough” to the user.


Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A method of searching for currently open businesses from a mobile device. The user’s device sends a search query, the current time and its location. A search is performed based on the user’s search query. A subset of results is selected based on operating hours of the business, current time, and travel time from the device location to the business. The search results which are returned indicate which businesses are “currently open”.

  • Publication Number: US 20130110822 A1
  • Assignee: Google, Inc
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating October, 2011
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through Nov 2, 2013

Claim 1 requires each and every step below::

A method comprising:

  1. Receiving a query from a user device, a current time, and a location for the user device; AND
  2. Identifying results responsive to the query, the results including one or more business results that are each associated with a business location and operating hours; AND
  3. Selecting a subset of the business results as open results based on the operating hours of the business results, the current time, and travel times from the device location to the respective business locations; AND
  4. Providing data for a search engine results page that designates the subset of business results as open results.

In English this means:

  1. A user’s device sends user’s search query, current time and its location
  2. Businesses, their associated locations and business hours are identified from the query
  3. A few items from this list are selected based on whether the businesses are currently open and the user is close enough to get to them before they close
  4. A subset of businesses which are open is passed along to a search engine to return results (which presumably could return a list or a map).

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming a method using all of the steps above and including travel time from the user’s device to the business to determine whether user will make it to the business before it closes.

"Show restaurants open now”

What is good prior art? Please see our FAQ.

Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.

  • 1
    2006's EP 1813914 A2 for "A product, service and activity based interactive trip mapping system, method and computer program product." seems to meet most claims including modifying the trip plan for "an estimated time to traverse the travel itinerary," and "hours of operation"
    – AShelly
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 15:54
  • 1
    2011’s WO 2011059761 A1 for “Sensor-based mobile search, related methods and systems” has some overlaps.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 11:28

2 Answers 2


US Patent 8229458 (and it's related patent US8364171 and continuation applications such as 20130073454, that share most of the spec) appears to teach a substantial portion of the claims:

This reference discusses in great detail the aspects of receiving location-based queries from a device and returning content related to that location, including businesses in the area. The key point of novelty of Google's patent application appears to revolve around operating hours of businesses, and paragraph [0366] clearly teaches that element of the claim:

In determining the top search results or in configuring the information displayed on the screen, the hours of operation of the businesses may be considered. For purposes of illustration and without limitation, if the user is driving down a road at 10:00 PM and performs a search (either at a stop light or via a voice command while moving), the top results are relevant businesses along the path that are currently open as determined by known hours of operation that are posted on the internet or stored in a database. Therefore, businesses that close at 5:00 PM are not included in the top results, or if they are included in the top results they are near the bottom of the top results or otherwise weighted appropriately (e.g., to reflect that the business is not currently open). Furthermore, hours of operation are taken into consideration when sending targeted content to a mobile device so that a user is not directed to a business location before or after business hours.

There are many more references methods using "hours of operation" in the spec.

The only element that seems not to be directly taught is determining "travel times from the device location to the respective business locations". However, there are several snippets in this reference that suggest that "travel time" would be a useful consideration, such as the following in paragraph [0363]:

Based upon the speed of the user, it may further be determined whether the user is in a car, walking, or stationary. The mobile device may behave differently or targeted content may be delivered to the user based upon their speed. If the user is moving slowly, many elements of targeted content associated with the nearby area are sent to the mobile device or retrieved from the memory of the mobile device. If the user is moving faster (For purposes of illustration and without limitation, if they are in a car, on a motorcycle, on a high speed train, etc.) then targeted content associated with businesses in a wider area are sent to the user or retrieved from the memory of the mobile device.

And paragraphs [0006] -[0007] from the background section:

There is significant benefit provided by methods and systems that provide search results and targeted content based upon the current course of the user instead of simply the radial distance from the user. There is also significant benefit provided by methods and systems that provide up-to-date cartographic information. For purposes of illustration and without limitation, when a car is traveling north there may be a gas station one mile south but it is better to remain on course and visit a different gas station three miles ahead of the current location and along the desired route.

Significant benefit is provided by a content targeting methods and systems usable with mobile devices that not only search for results closest to the current location of the mobile device, but also take into account other information in order to provide more useful results for the user. The methods and systems analyze current or historical locations, speeds, headings of the mobile device, or combinations thereof, as recorded by the device, by a remote system, or both, and deliver search result information, including content from advertisers interested in targeting consumers in the areas the consumer typically travels.

I realize TSM is no longer a sufficient test, but this is a clear example of suggestion and motivation to compute travel times, and I'm sure there will be no dearth of references about computing "travel times" to raise an obviousness-type rejection.


These all predates and are likely to have relevance to the subject matter.

  • 8,145,645 System for identifying geographically relevant advertisements from a search query
  • 7,958,228 Behavioral predictions based on network activity locations
  • 7,853,270 System for geographically contextualizing data items
  • 7,848,764 System for providing location predictive advertising
  • 7,844,283 Method of providing location based information to a mobile terminal within a communications network
  • 7,774,348 System for providing geographically relevant content to a search query with local intent
  • 7,644,098 System and method for identifying advertisements responsive to historical user queries
  • 7,616,964 System and method for providing geo-relevant information based on a mobile device
  • 7,685,119 System and method for query expansion

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