Google Sued by German Firm Over Space-Imaging Technology

Google Inc. (GOOG) was sued by a German architectural firm over a patent for technology that allows users to provide space-based images of the earth.

Berlin-based Art+Com claims Google infringed on the architectural firm’s patent when the search-engine provider unveiled its Google Earth application in 2005, according to a lawsuit filed today. That technology allows Google users to get images of earth provided by space satellites.

Google infringed by providing Google Earth “for users to download, along with web-accessible tutorials,” Art+Com executives said in the suit filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Google Earth’s space-based images help users track weather and other data. Conservationists in Kenya have used the application to combat elephant poachers by outfitting the animals with collars equipped with global-positioning chips and tracking them via the application.

Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, said in an e-mailed statement the company wasn’t commenting on the lawsuit.

Terravision System

Art+Com said it owns a patent on space-imaging technology that provides the basis for its Terravision system, according to the complaint.

“Terravision is a networked virtual representation of the earth based on satellite images, aerial shots and altitude and architectural data,” Art+Com said in the complaint. “It provides an environment to organize and access information spatially.”

Google Earth, Google Earth Pro and Google Earth Enterprise incorporate Art+Com’s technology, according to the complaint.

Art+Com executives had discussions with Google officials about selling the patent in 2006, the company said. The German firm accused Google of making a lowball offer.

“A reasonable company in Google’s position in the summer of 2006 would have engaged Art+COM on acceptable terms of sale,” the company said.

The case is Art+Com Innovationpool GmbH v. Google Inc., No. 14-217, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.