[OSGeo-Discuss] Patent for feature of paper map.

Bill Thoen bthoen at gisnet.com
Thu Aug 6 06:51:31 PDT 2009

You might be surprised what people might be able to get away with, 
though. There's been repeated attempts to patent "web mapping" for 
example, and if it wasn't for the efforts of a few dedicated people, 
there would now be patents in both Britain and the USA on displaying 
maps over the web.  But the threat is not dead yet, believe it or not, 
and it may culminate in a battle between Microsoft and Google sometime 
in the near future. Check out Daniel Morissette's blog entry for Feb 21, 
2009, "Microsoft Patents the Map" at 
http://www.systemed.net/blog/?p=68.  If Microsoft really uses the 
Multimap patent to put the bite on Google, then you can bet your bippy 
that it'll affect your web mapping business too.

If reading that article brings your blood to a righteous boil, and you 
want to know more about who really invented web mapping, see Carl Reed's 
2004 article,  "Intellectual Property, Patents, and Web Mapping: 
Historical Perspective" at 

- Bill Thoen

And I believe there actually was a patent issued for

René A. Enguehard wrote:
> I suspect they might be applying for the patent but in for quite a 
> surprise when it gets rejected. Features for maps would be very tricky 
> to patent and, more importantly, not in the interest of the general 
> public. As such the patent applications would probably get rejected. 
> Would we really want people patenting things like projections, north 
> arrows, scale bars or legends? I don't think it would be productive 
> and suspect any patent office in its right mind would see it the same 
> way.
> Patents were created to help people protect their ideas for a length 
> of time so they could reap the rewards of their work and refine it 
> without fear of being copied or undercut. This works very well for 
> many things but fails miserably for conceptual things like maps or 
> layouts for books or posters. This is why many patent offices now 
> require people to patent "systems" rather than "things". I don't see 
> how a wrap-around map could be explained as a system.
> René
> Landon Blake wrote:
>> The latest issue of the ACSM Bulletin had an interesting article 
>> about a map matrix that wraps around the edge of a paper map. It 
>> seems the company that is using this feature of hard copy map design 
>> is applying for a patent. I didn’t even think you could get a patent 
>> a feature of a paper map. It got me wondering who holds the patent on 
>> the use of a north arrow and scale.
>> At any rate, here is the article if you are interested in reading it:
>> http://www.webmazine.org/issues/current/documents/wrap.pdf
>> I couldn’t find the patent application, or I would have posted a link 
>> to it. Let me know if you have any comments.
>> Landon
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