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.