Google AdWords cleared in geotagging patent lawsuit

Google was cleared of infringement but the patent was not declared invalid

Google AdWords does not infringe a location-based search patent owned by a company called GeoTag, a U.S. judge ruled in a case in which Google and Microsoft teamed up to come to the aid of customers who use their mapping services.

Google's advertising system that lets users display ads alongside search terms does not infringe on a part of the patent in suit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware said in a redacted order on Tuesday.

The search giant teamed with Microsoft to sue GeoTag in 2011, claiming the company used its geotagging patent to improperly file patent lawsuits against more than 300 entities, many of whom are Microsoft and Google customers, according to the original complaint.

Those customers sought indemnity from Google and Microsoft because they were sued for using Google Maps and Bing Maps for their store locator services or other similar purposes, according to the complaint. GeoTag filed several counterclaims against the tech companies in 2012.

Microsoft and Google moved to get the patent invalidated.

Presiding Judge Richard G. Andrews did not, however, rule the patent invalid. Google claimed the patent was an obvious result of earlier inventions. But whether earlier inventions, also known as prior art, would have led to the current patented technology "remains in dispute and is a genuine material issue in the determination of obviousness", Andrews wrote.

Google declined to comment. GeoTag, a company that licenses its patented location-based technologies, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Microsoft and GeoTag settled a large part of their dispute in May last year. The only issue that still needs to be tried in Microsoft's part of the case concerns Bing Ads, according to a court document filed at the time.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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