Google Earth may catch a break in patent quake

by admin April 1, 2006 at 2:20 am

Google may get a break from a federal judge in a lawsuit claiming the company’s 3D Earth-mapping program violates patent rights.

In a preliminary order released last week, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock in Massachusetts appeared to side with Google’s interpretations of the patent in question, a stance that could bode well for the search giant as the case moves on.

The legal spat began in May 2004 when a Virginia-based company called Skyline Software Systems filed a patent-infringement suit against Keyhole, a Mountain View, Calif.-based digital mapping company. Founded in 1997, Skyline makes a number of mapping products, including one called TerraExplorer, which, according to its Web site, “allows users to freely fly through 3D terrain and urban environments.”

Google became part of the suit after it acquired Keyhole in October 2004. Keyhole made interactive, 3D mapping software based on terabytes of information and images taken from satellites and airplanes. That technology formed the basis for Google Earth, released last June.

Full story: CNET