Apple Files a Patent Request That Sounds Eerily Like GIS

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Apple has recently filed a patent request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to patent an “Interactive Map.”  The Provisional Application was first filed on June 5, 2012 and was published on the USPTO web site on December 19, 2013 and the listed inventors of Apple’s Interactive map are Christopher Blumenberg Jaron I. Waldman, Marcel van Os, and Richard J. Williamson.

The claims as described in the patent application sound very similar to what makes up a GIS.  Take Claim 1:

A method for displaying a map on a computing device, Comprising: storing information to be displayed on the map in a memory of the computing device, the stored information comprising a plurality of different layers of information, wherein each layer contains a respective type of information; displaying a map on a display of the computing device, the map comprising a plurality of the layers of information superimposed upon one another; in response to a user selection of a display mode corresponding to a topic of interest, displaying at least one layer containing information that is associated with the selected mode; and enhancing the value of at least one display parameter for map features of each displayed layer that are associated with the selected mode, relative to a default value for the display parameter.

Geographic data stored as separate layers?  Sounds like GIS.


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Figure 5 from Apple's Interactive Map Patent.

Figure 5 from Apple’s Interactive Map Patent.

The Apple Insider has more detail dissecting the patent application.  The abstract on the Interactive Map patent application:

An interactive capability enables a user to dynamically adjust the content of an electronic map. Different modes can be chosen to emphasize features relevant to a particular interest, e.g. commuting, tourism, weather, etc. Combinations of modes can be selected to create a customized map. When a search is conducted, the chosen mode functions as a filter for the retrieved results. The map responds to user input directed to a given feature, to display information relevant to that feature. Tapping or clicking on a highway displays the locations of services along the highway, Touching two points on the map causes available routes between them to be computed and displayed to the user, along with relevant data for each route. Geospatial applications can be integrated with the map to provide information pertaining to the area displayed on the map, and to refine search results to those that are relevant to the area.

There is an effort initiated by Bill Morris on the Ask Patents StackExchange site that asks for prior art.  The initiative entitled, “Interactive Map – Is Apple trying to patent 40-year-old GIS methods? – Patent Application – PRIOR ART REQUEST” asks for users to supply documentation dating before June 5, 2012 showing that the claims supplied by Apple have been in common use in order to help narrow the patent before it is finalized.  Prior art is defined as any “webpage, user manual, paper, book, youtube video, patent pre-grant publication” or patent.

H/T Vicky Gallardo and James Fee


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