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

Michael P. Gerlek mpg at lizardtech.com
Fri Aug 7 10:59:45 PDT 2009

While I have no absolutely no familiarity with the patent in question, something I've said here before perhaps bears occasional repeating:

Patent and IP law is a very deep and complex subject.  The vast majority of us laypersons are not qualified to read and evaluate patent claims; what is reported in the popular press is often a very watered-down or simplistic interpretation of what is actually being claimed.  Some patent claims do indeed turn out to be riddled through with "obvious" prior art, but in order to really know that typically requires one to be experienced in the field of use *and* have thorough understanding of the legal language used in the claim constructions.

By all means we should all continue to bring down bogus patent attempts, but we in doing so we all need to be careful of making any hasty or unfounded allegations.

-mpg (ianal)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Bill Thoen
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 7:14 AM
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Patent for feature of paper map.

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 

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
GISnet - www.gisnet.com

Brian Russo wrote:
> I've seen legends similar to that before; afraid I can't offer 
> anything solid in terms of prior art examples but it's hardly as 
> revolutionary as they seem to think.
> Pretty absurd if you ask me;
> On Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 7:34 AM, "René A. Enguehard" 
> <ahugenerd at gmail.com <mailto:ahugenerd at gmail.com>> 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
>     IANAL
>     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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