Microsoft and Google have teamed up to confront GeoTag, a so-called patent troll. The geolocation technology firm has sued over 300 companies for infringing on a 1999 patent (5,930,474) that describes an "internet organizer for accessing geographically and topically based information."
GeoTag filed two suits against 15 companies in July 2010, followed by eight more against 382 entities in December (see the Scribd document below). The company is based in Texas where courts historically favor patent owners, and that only fuels the patent troll accusations.
Many of GeoTag's suits involve customers of Microsoft and Google's respective map services, including retailers that use them for their online store locators. The industry titans have apparently decided enough's enough, launching a countersuit against GeoTag on Tuesday. Microsoft and Google have asked the District Court of Delaware to invalidate patent 5,930,474 in addition to seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction that would protect their map customers from GeoTag's future suits.
"[GeoTag's] suits have placed a cloud on Plaintiffs' web mapping services, have caused customers to seek relief from the Plaintiffs, and have created a justifiable controversy between Plaintiffs and GeoTag," the filing said. "In this case, we are seeing two giants who separate their fierce competition in various fields from a common interest in curbing trollish behaviour," said Florian Mueller, founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign.