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Facebook and other social networks face infringement charges over GPS based patents

In retrospect of the innumerous lawsuits Facebook has been combating since the past decade, it seems that they should buckle up even further, for the ride’s about to get bumpier. Facebook, along with its subsidiary Instagram, and two other social media companies namely Snap inc. and Foursquares Lab inc. will be facing a lawsuit on grounds of patent infringement.

The plaintiff Corrino Holdings LLC, is a non practicing entity with connections to IP Valuation Partners. After forming the company in December, Corrino holdings had acquired the asserted patents from Intellectual Ventures in June.

The Patents in question describes technology that revolves around Global Positioning System and its applications in social media platforms. The suits primarily focus on how these social networks help notify users of nearby services, or enable search within a geographical location. For instance, the complaint includes a U.S Patent 7,847,685 which describes a system in which a user’s query shall be addressed via a system that locates and directs the information related to the user’s location. This method helps narrow down the search results by confining them to the user’s location, which otherwise would have been a tussle for him, going through a thousand random hits on a conventional search engine. Hence, valuable time is saved on the user’s front.

The lawsuits for each of the companies were filed separately at the U.S district court for the central district of California on Thursday, October 4. Common attorneys have been assigned to all the companies involved, and assert subsets of the same patents.

The allegations against Facebook and Instagram state that the patent infringement seems to have occurred in the apps that are offered by the two companies. However, for Snap inc., the claim points out that the location targeting feature, which helps determine the location of the user for the local advertisers (or vice versa), is what infringes the patent.

As of now, no counsel has made appearances for Facebook, but usually for patent infringement, it's the Cooley partners that handle the cases for the company. Facebook and Snap have already been in a bit of commotion this past year, in view of the patent claims filed by Blackberry Inc. against them. It’ll be interesting to see how they go about this newly spawned issue.

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