Apple Gets One Last Nuke From Xerox: A Killer Location Patent That Could Toast Facebook, Foursquare, Google, Etc.

Apple Gets One Last Nuke From Xerox: A Killer Location Patent That Could Toast Facebook, Foursquare, Google, Etc.

Photo by autopoiet - http://flic.kr/p/9aEXJE

Apple has a long history of taking a technology created by Xerox and transforming it into the heart and soul of computing, such as the mouse or the concept of a graphic user interface. Now comes word Apple owns a Xerox patent for location based services. The patent could prompt Apple to sue a wide array of companies, ranging from Android-backer Google to social networking giant Facebook and any others relying on the ability to check users’ location.

Issued Wednesday, the patent actually dates back to 1998, when it was originally filed by Xerox (and received in 2000.) Apple appears to have purchased the patent Dec. 17, 2009. Not only does the patent pre-date many of today’s technology, including Android-based smartphones, GPS receivers, Facebook, Foursquare and more, but the IP is written so generally as to cover a wide swath of devices.

Here is how the the patent describes a “location information system:” A receiver that receives location identification information from at least one site specific object identifying a location.ladd., where at lease one site specific object is a beacon.laddend.; and a transceiver that transmits the location identification information to a distributed network and that receives the location specific information about the specified location from the distributed network based on the location identification information, wherein the location specific information provides information corresponding to the location.

What that language means is that the patent could cover ads sent to a cell phone based on its location, all mobile phones using GPS to locate users – even the use of QR barcodes that provide user information based on location. In essence, if Samsung and other companies thought they had enough legal headaches from Apple, their problems could multiply exponentially.

The ball is in Apple’s court.

  • Robert Menes

    DON’T DO IT, APPLE… that patent is a destructive force of nature. It could DESTROY everyone and everything on this planet!

  • realllynotfred

    You’ve read the patent wrong.  GPS is not ‘site specific’, so doesn’t count.  HOWEVER, a WIFI MAC address is _very_ site specific, (and a cell phone tower (or specific combination of towers) could be construed as site specific).

  • Esdras Caleb

    Man patentiate ideias is complicate because 2 people can have the same ideia…

  • macgizmo

    Save the drama for your momma :p

  • djrobsd

    If Apple sues, they will be shooting themselves in the foot.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. 

  • Qkdel

    ROFLMAO!!!! and this is why they are never worried about what the droids are trying to do…..the ace in the sleeve…hehehe….now come the extreme royalties from ALL others… LOVE MY APPLE.

  • Matthew Snider

    I say bring it on. Make it something better than it is now.

  • Srose428

    Apple already has the legal teams in place, I ready to see them bust out the notices of infrigement.  I am surprised though because if Steve Jobs really wanted to destroy Android, why wouldnt he have taken action on this patent earlier? 

  • Ed_Kel

    What?

  • marcwitteveen

    I don’t like patent protection that much because it limits creativity of start ups and companies with small budgets. But in case of the big boys stealing stuff, crush them like a cockroach!

  • Bill Wimsatt

    Note the use of “transmits the location identification information to a distributed network”. No, direct GPS Device – Satellite communications would not be covered. But intervening devices in a “distributed network” would constitue issues with the patent.

  • God

    And APPLE loves your money.

  • Steve LeVine

    I think the headline is being sensationalistic (and inaccurate.) If this article is written accurately, based on the language that is quoted, it seems to be a “device” based patent. If true, how does this affect the likes of foursquare? They are utilizing said system that already resides on the device. Andrioid phones, etc., that have the hardware, well that’s a different story.

  • @rtigz

    I fund my purchasing of Apple products, using some of the proceeds from my AAPL investments.  Belief in the company has essentially provided me “free” Apple devices.  Gotta love it.

  • Ed_Kel

    What does your comment have anything to do with anything? We have control over our money and if we choose to spend it, then companies like Apple need to come forward and provide goods that we want to buy.

    Go occupy something.

  • jeanlouisnguyen

    What he means is: if you’re an app developer, and Apple starts suing a company like Foursquare, you better be scared. Location tracking is becoming increasingly integrated with ANY mobile experience. If Apple goes after even a single player in this mobile space (say, Foursquare), then all devs should be careful. Even iOS devs. That being said, I don’t think Apple has any intention of suing its own developers, except its competitors.

  • jeanlouisnguyen

    Lol but I like his drama :)

  • twitter-28439603

    “graphic user interface”

    Graphical.  Get an editor.

  • Shane Bryson

    In GUI, G can stand for graphic or graphical. I have seen it both ways in text books as a Computer Info Major. Get a brain, and stop being a jerk.

  • JCioffi

    Apple could easily add the necessary clause that would grant developers to use their location based services. In fact, to a large degree they already have by giving us access to the necessary code. I would be more concerned if I developed for a platform other than iOS.

  • prof_peabody

    No, it’s always been “graphical” anyone who uses “graphic” is wrong.  How many people get it wrong has no bearing on the language itself.  

  • Goldie20

    Just another example of what a joke the US Patent Office is. Maybe I should patent a specific method of swinging on a swing. Nope, someone beat me to it already.

    Actually I think the British came up with this idea to track the location of the Spanish Armada.

  • Dilbert A

    Boom!

  • Smarter Than A Prof.

    Actually if enough get it wrong it will have bearing on the language.

  • Michiel Mac

    Let’s nuke spy-company Google and Samsung. Just for their bad taste !

    Can i push the button ? Please ?

  • Ed_Kel

    The more comments I read from you, the more I believe how much of a pretentious dick you must be.

    I’ve seen it both ways too. In terms of grammar, it depends on how you use the term in a sentence but both are right.

  • Ed_Kel

    What? I think everyone here is using the term “sue” too broadly. I don’t believe Apple would mandate an injunction to anyone but royalties may be in play. And like the below comment says, it would be easy for Apple to insert a clause that protects their developers. Isn’t that what Apple has always done – protect their developers by allowing inalienable rights to using patented technology?

  • cienzod

    OK, so I’m confused…Apple have got a patent issued in 2009 that covers GPS that was created in 1978.  GPS for mobile phones was first used in mobile phone in 2004/2005 by Qualcomm… Even if the patent stands, surely this falls under the FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) rules, as it is would qualify as a “technical standard” so they have to license it fairly…  Not so much nuke then, more like IED?

  • Lemuel Jones A.

    I don’t think this will hold up but what do I know?

  • Njideka Okafor

    “multiply exponentially!” LoL! Apple sure has an arsenal of weapons ready for these guys. Little wonder why it appears to be slow in letting out all its conceivable products.

  • Njideka Okafor

    I think he means, without the technology in the first place, these services wont even exist. Maybe they can’t nuke Square, but they could sure stifle the service.

  • Njideka Okafor

    I’ld like to see you choose not to buy the latest Apple device that comes with what “that ability to make blast a rock or do some super stuff in the future”! heheheeh….

  • Andy Murdock

    All of these IPs fall under my grand patent called “Thing that does stuff”.
    See you in court everyone.

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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