Google Scores 7 Mobile Location-Based Services Patents from deCarta

On July 17th, map API provider deCarta announced the release of their third generation Javascript-based Maps API. Around a week or so earlier, a Search Engine Land article noted that deCarta had been the recipient of a number of defections from the Google Maps API after Google had announced they would start charging for the use of their API above a certain usage point.

I noticed earlier today that deCarta transferred 7 patents to Google in an assignment reported at the USPTO as being executed on July 31st and recorded with the patent office on August 28th. The patents are all older, orginally filed in 2000 through 2002. There are still 56 pending and granted patents on the USPTO site listed as assigned to deCarta at the patent office.

While the patents in this transaction are older, they still likely be relevant today to a company providing location-based services to mobile phone users. They involve such things as sharing of GPS-based (or other technology-based) locations among users and even connecting users based upon their locations. Another patent involves triggering a location based service such as receiving a notification when within a certain distance from a place such as a favorite restaurant. An additional patent involves sending advertisements to people as they approach specific businesses.

Between deCarta securing approximately 400 new users in recent months from those Google defectors, as well as $4 million in funding in mid July, and a possible payout from Google for these 7 patents, it seems like the company may have a chance to compete with Google.

Was this a single transaction between Google and deCarta for some patents, or was it something more? That’s an answer that we might need to wait for.

Added August 31, 2012Google acquires deCarta SoLoMo Patents – Marc Prioleau, who worked at deCarta for a few years, writes about the patents in question. They were acquired by deCarta during a 2003 acquisition of Gravitate, and look like they were pretty much ahead of their time – with relevance for companies offering a combination of social + local + mobile applications today. His commentary is definitely worth a read.

Here are the new Google patents:

Method for providing matching and introduction services to proximate mobile users and service providers
Invented by Hirohisa A. Tanaka
Assigned to Telcontar
US Patent 6,819,919
Granted November 16, 2004
Filed: October 18, 2000

Abstract

A system enabling mobile wireless users to obtain information on other proximate users both fixed and wireless. Said information is gathered from a central database that stores user profiles and real-time locations of system users. Mobile users can request information on nearby users by submitting a request from a mobile telephone or similar communications endpoint to the central database.

The request is accompanied by the user’s location, obtained from GPS (Global Positioning System) or other technology, or from user input. The server searches the profile database for nearby users based on requester’s location, locations of other users of the system and optional parameters specified in the request. Search results are returned to the requester. The system facilitates communication between requester and owner(s) of profiles returned by system.

Method and system for selectively connecting mobile users based on physical proximity
Invented by Geoffrey R. Hendrey, Hirohisa A. Tanaka, and Philip J. Koopman, Jr.
Assigned to Telcontar
US Patent 6,542,750
Granted April 1, 2003
Filed: June 8, 2001

Abstract

A method and system for selectively connecting proximately located telecommunications units are disclosed. The method and system may be used in a location aware telecommunications system that can determine the location of a telecommunications unit (TU) being used within the system.

Proximately located TUs within a predefined group may be connected when an initiating TU requests a group connection. A predetermined number of group TUs located within a predetermined distance of the initiating TU may be connected together with the initating TU in a single telecommunications connection.

System and method for initiating responses to location-based events
Invented by Geoffrey R. Hendrey, Chandrashekar Basavaiah, Tony Campione, and Scott Stouffer
Assigned to deCarta Inc.
US Patent 7,813,741
Granted October 12, 2010
Filed: July 17, 2002

Abstract

A system and method for initiating responses to location-based events includes a rules system for applying one or more rules to state/attribute information corresponding to one or more mobile units, to determine if a location-based event has occurred. If it is determined that a location-based event has occurred, a response is provided to one or more location-based services applications.

The response can be used by the location-based services applications to provide location-based services, such as email, instant messaging, paging and the like. A state/attribute database can be used with the system and method to store and update the state/attribute information corresponding to the one or more mobile units.

Method and system for automatically initiating a telecommunications connection based on distance
Invented by Geoffrey R. Hendrey, Hirohisa A. Tanaka, Philip J. Koopman, Jr., and Joseph D. King
Assigned to Telcontar
US Patent 6,542,748
Granted April 1, 2003
Filed: June 8, 2001

Abstract

A method and system for connecting proximately located telecommunications units are disclosed. The method and system may be used in a location aware telecommunications system that can determine the location of a telecommunications unit (TU) being used within the system.

A user of a mobile telecommunications unit (MU) is connected to a TU when the MU is within a predetermined distance of a predetermined geographic location meeting predefined criteria. The TU to which the MU is connected may be automated or manually operated. In some embodiments, multiple MUs are connected when they are within a predetermined proximity to each other and a predefined criteria is met.

Method and system for connecting mobile users based on degree of separation
Invented by Geoffrey R. Hendrey, Hirohisa A. Tanaka, Philip J. Koopman, Jr., and Joseph D. King
Assigned to Telcontar
US Patent 6,539,232
Granted March 25, 2003
Filed: June 8, 2001

Abstract

A method and system for selectively connecting proximately located telecommunications units are disclosed. The method and system may be used in a location aware telecommunications system that can determine the location of a telecommunications unit (TU) being used within the system.

A first TU may be connected to a second TU when the first and second TUs are within a predetermined distance of each other and when a first user associated with the first TU may be connected to a second user associated with the second TU on a graph representing individual relationships, such as an acquaintance graph or genealogical tree. The connection may further be based on whether the first and second users have a less than a maximum threshold degree of separation within the relationship graph.

Method and system for connecting proximately located mobile users based on compatible attributes
Invented by Geoffrey R. Hendrey, Hirohisa A. Tanaka, Philip J. Koopman, Jr., and Joseph D. King
Assigned to Telcontar
US Patent 6,542,749
Granted April 1, 2003
Filed: June 8, 2001

Abstract

A method and system for connecting proximately located telecommunications units are disclosed. The method and system may be used in a location aware telecommunications system that can determine the location of a telecommunications unit (TU) being used within the system.

A user may be connected to one or more other users when they have compatible attributes and when they are located within a predetermined distance of each other. The connection may be established between TUs of two or more users, based on attribute and distance information maintained by a server computer, upon the request of an initiating user’s TU.

Method and system for analyzing advertisements delivered to a mobile unit
Invented by Geoffrey R. Hendrey, Hirohisa A. Tanaka, and Philip J. Koopman, Jr.
Assigned to Telcontar
US Patent 6,647,269
Granted November 11, 2003
Filed: July 5, 2001

Abstract

Accurate location information about a mobile telecommunication transceiver is used to generate advertising content responsive to a user approaching the location of a business. This advertising content is tailored to the user’s preferences and the particular business involved.

Once the advertising content is delivered, the position of the user is monitored to track the effectiveness of the advertisement. If the user enters the business’ store and/or makes a purchase, the advertisement is logged as having been successful. If the user does not enter the store within a predetermined period of time or moves away from the store, the advertisement is considered to have been ineffective.

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12 thoughts on “Google Scores 7 Mobile Location-Based Services Patents from deCarta”

  1. Pingback: Google Scores 7 Mobile Location-Based Services Patents from deCarta - Inbound.org
  2. I wonder why deCarta transferred the patents to Google? G must be up to something.

    Receiving an alert when near a favorite location sounds interesting.

  3. Hi Rich,

    Check out the trackback link to Prioleau Advisors right after yours.

    The author worked at deCarta for five years, and is familiar with the patents involved in the transaction. If his assessment of them is correct, then they could have some interesting implications for many companies in the Social/Local/Mobile field, and possibly especially those working on advertisements in that niche.

  4. Thanks for pointing out that link Bill, there’s definitely some interesting stuff going on here! Like Mark said, it looks like Google is moving forward. first, social networks, next, a combination of social-GPS-based services. Exciting!

  5. As I can see they are interesting patents.
    If you also think about Android OS and mobile phones, you can see a lot of potential both for Google Maps and mobile ads (the next Eldorado?)

  6. Well quite interesting, it seems their planning something big this time around and my thoughts are similar to Rich, I guess it can be a social-GPS based type of service. After android it is obvious that google will put a step forward and one thing we all know they are full of surprises.

  7. “wireless users obtaining information on other proximate users” – that’s a huge patent. For example, I like good coffee, and we’ll all end up using our my phone as a pay-wave device. I walk into a food court, and my phone knows that around 9am I buy coffee, and it knows by promoxity that others are buying coffee, so it beeps at me and says “hey there’s popular inexpensive coffee over there”.

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