Google and Apples Patents Spice Up Web War

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-01-04 Print this article Print

In other words, this position fix indicator patent would help connect the dots for iPhone's location sharing service.

These patents describe location-based compass technology that seems a lot like what Google offers with Latitude. This would certainly explain why Apple was reticent to bless its rival's service, as 9to5Mac noted:

"Obviously if Apple is working on their own version of Google Latitude (or owns the IP rights to this functionality), they'd be hesitant to put an app with the same functionality on their devices from another company."

Meanwhile, the Google Rumors blog reported Jan. 1 that Google has filed a patent to boost the contextual relevance of image and video ads.

This ad category, particularly in the context of mobile devices, is a big business if Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or any of dozens of Internet companies can successfully create formulas to make money from it.

This patent, published by the USPTO Dec. 29, calls for a way to upload a display ad and compare it to other ads via a "document processor," which analyzes images, sound files, and other data to identify text and images (as well as spoken words and other data) in the image ad.

"For instance, text may be identified in an image using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. By comparing the document to other documents, content can be identified in and associated with the document, and the document can be accordingly rated and approved based on this content and the status of the ratings of the comparison documents. The document can also be associated with content-based concepts (e.g., keywords, subject matter, etc.) that relate to a service or product associated with the documents."

Asked for additional comment on Google's plans for this patent, a Google spokesperson wrote back:

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."

Of course, this technology is not a weapon Google would wield versus Apple in the way Apple's patent seems to obviate Google Latitude on the iPhone. However, the patents point to the directions Apple and Google are taking as the frenemies proceed in 2010.


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