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Microsoft, Google Sued Over Computer-Mapping Technology

Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. were accused of violating a Louisiana company’s patent covering mapping technology that helps computer users see locations in three dimensions.

Officials of Transcenic Inc. contend in a lawsuit that executives of Google, owner of the world’s biggest search engine, and Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, misappropriated technology that helps capture 3-D images of map locations.

The companies’ misuse of the mapping technology “has injured Transcenic and Transcenic is entitled to recover damages adequate to compensate for such infringement,” the closely held Lake Charles, Louisiana-based company said today in a suit filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Patents covering computer-mapping software have sparked litigation against Google, Microsoft and other companies in federal courts around the U.S. GeoTag Inc. has filed patent-infringement suits against 300 entities, many of which use mapping technology made by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft or Mountain View, California-based Google to show store locations.

Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg, a Google spokeswoman, and Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, both said they couldn’t comment on the suit because they hadn’t yet received a copy of it.

Street View Targeted

Transcenic argues computer programs such as Google’s Street View and Microsoft’s Streetside allow users to see 3-D images of their destination rather than the traditional birds-eye view of a map grid.

Google’s Street View system also has become a target for lawsuits alleging the company is violating residents’ privacy rights by collecting data from individual Wi-Fi networks. A federal judge in California yesterday said a wiretapping suit over the system could proceed.

Both Google and Microsoft have placed “infringing systems into action or service” and obtain “beneficial use” of those systems, lawyers for Transcenic said in the suit.

The patent-infringement suit also names AOL Inc. and its MapQwest unit as defendants. Sandy Drayton, an AOL spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a phone call for comment on the suit.

The case is Transcenic Inc. v. Google Inc., 11-cv-582, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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