Mobile

Have the location-based patent wars begun?

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Popular location-based check-in application Foursqaure was slapped with a lawsuit today for supposedly infringing on a patent from little known company Mobile Commerce Framework, as first reported by TechCrunch.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday by Mobile Commerce Framework’s legal representation Jonathan Hangartner in the Southern District of California and is claiming financial damages as well as the withdrawal of all products by Foursquare to be impounded or destroyed.

The claim is that Foursquare’s application infringes the patent by allowing users to search and find information on merchants by location or merchant type. A very broad statement, which most patents tend to follow and could be applied to many of the applications available today.

Don’t think that Foursquare is going to be shutting down anytime soon, the company itself may own its own patents that could be used in defense. Like the one cofounder Dennis Crowley used to own from his days at Dodgeball titled “Location-based social software for mobile devices.”

Other services dealing in location-based services also have unique patents, including Facebook Places, which could be used in defense called “Systems and methods for automatically locating Web-based social network members” filed in 2007.

The lawsuit may be the first of many to come to Foursquare by a variety of companies. Unfortunately, it appears that Mobile Commerce Framework isn’t an active participant in the location-based services space defending one of their products, but rather just looking for a quick buck from a company that appears to be doing the best in the space. Why do we think this? Well, the company doesn’t even have a website or any other real information available.

Hopefully, the location-based patent wars haven’t begun and the space can continue to grow. We’ve emailed Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley for comment, and will update when we hear back.