US Patent Office Issues Both Poynt and Where Similar Geofence Patents



Today, Poynt announced that Poynt Corp. has been issued a patent for delivering location-based offers and coupons to smartphones based on GPS location and user profile. The patent, which Poynt says was originally claimed in 2000, enables Poynt to match users with relevant deals and coupons within any pre-defined geographic area (a geofence). The patent number is 7,870,229, and is described as:

“A network adapted to target an individual operating a microcomputer that is linked to an Internet to offer this individual goods or services appropriate to his needs that are available at a place within reach of the individual’s present location.”

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About 3 weeks ago, Where announced that the US Patent Office awarded an them a patent on “Location-based services”. Patent No. 7,848,765 covers 31 claims ranging from sending an alert to offering a coupon when somebody crosses a geofence with a mobile device.

While it’s not the first time this has happened, the US Patent Office seems to be issuing patents for nearly the same technologies. While the definitions may be different, it’s clear both companies are trying to patent the same process.

UPDATE: We’ve been informed that Where’s patent is based around creating a geofence around the user where as Poynt’s patent is based around creating a geofence around a physical area like a business.

Do you believe these differences are great enough to merit separate patents?

UPDATE: Another interesting thing to note about the patents is that while Poynt leverages the user’s search, Where seems to rely on manual user input. Considering the Where CEO called their patent “the mother of all patents”, you would think the patent would be a little less high-maintenance.

  • Rich

    IBM received 5000+ patents last year. Microsoft received 3000+. That’s TWO companies and a SINGLE year. It would be difficult to write anything more than a trivial program without violating some sort of patent.

    For me, I hope that if I write anything that makes a lot of money, I can pay for any patent violations I might commit. If I don’t, chances are they aren’t going to come after me.

    All in all, it’s a pretty ridiculous scenario, but I don’t have a good way to fix it.

  • DSt

    I agree with you second update. user input vs. pulled user info is far more user friendly. On that note, Poynt is a much more user friendly app too.

  • DSt

    DUHHH please proofread!
     that should read  “vs. user input,  pulled user info is far more user friendly”