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Google, Apple sued over Street View technology

A lawsuit takes aim at Google's Street View feature and Apple devices that use it, claiming infringement of a patent held by a Florida company with no Web site.

Google's Street View technology running on an iPad.
Google's Street View technology running on an iPad. Apple

A new lawsuit claims Google and Apple have infringed a patent by using the Street View feature in Google Maps.

In a lawsuit filed last week in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Florida-based PanoMap Technologies accuses Google and Apple for infringing on its patent covering the the 3D panorama mode found in the Google Maps app on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

The lawsuit (pdf), picked up by PaidContent, says both companies knowingly infringed on U.S. Patent No. 6,563,529, issued to developer Jerry Jongerius in mid-2003. That patent covers an "interactive system for displaying detailed view and direction in panoramic images." In the suit, that's described as the Street View feature, the one that lets users see 3D imagery of the street, as captured through Google's Street View camera system.

PanoMap Technologies, which does not have a Web site, claims both companies were aware of its patent ahead of infringing on it, with Google going so far as to include it alongside related patent filings. In its suit, PanoMap says Google listed PanoMap's '529 patent as prior art when applying for two of its own patents covering its Street View technology.

As for Apple, PanoMap says the company accessed, a business run by Jongerius that both shows off and licenses a panoramic image viewer program called PMVR, on July 8, 2007.

The suit, which curiously does not include devices running Google's own Android OS, which also features a 3D Street View mode, seeks damages but not an injunction on Apple's devices.

Representatives from Google and Apple declined to comment on the suit.

Google launched Street View in early 2007 as a new way to view and browse its Maps service. It was initially launched in five major cities, later expanding to other parts of the globe. Google collected images for the service by driving around cars equipped with a special camera system that captured panoramic images of their surroundings. Google later linked up that imagery to the relevant geo-coordinates.

This is not the first time Street View has been sued. Previous litigation, however, has largely focused on privacy issues, particularly involving people who took offense to having their images captured. Google has subsequentlyblurred things like people's faces, license plates, and even entire houses as a result of criticism.