The local search space is becoming a patent battleground. in the third local search patent to surface in the last month, Local.com today announced that it's been awarded a patent for "indexing and retrieving web-related information by geographical location."
Last month, Jingle Networks won a patent for elements of its 1-800-FREE-411 service, which serves targeted voice ads from related businesses and competitors when a user looks up a local business on its service.
Earlier this month, London-based Geomas sued Verizon and its Idearc spin-off, claiming that Idearc's Superpages.com infringes on a patent it owns for location-based search.
It's not likely that all of these seemingly overlapping patents, and other emerging patents, can all be enforced. The local search space is certainly overcrowded with start-ups, so a little bit of patent-enforcement might help with consolidation in the market. On the other hand, it can also stifle the growth of the industry, if the major players get involved in an all-out patent war. It would be best for the industry if these issues could get sorted out swiftly and decisively, but that's rarely the case in situations like these.
Introducing SES Online
Want to view one of the sessions you missed or listen to an especially informative presenter a second time? SES New York sessions are available for purchase on ClickZ Academy's new e-Learning site. SES is now Online!