Zagat Finds Itself in a Lawsuit with Location-Based Information Provider Earthcomber

The popular consumer survey-based, Zagat Survey has landed themselves in a patent infringement suit with Earthcomber.
March 16, 2010 - PRLog -- There are many mobile applications on the market to help you find somewhere to eat, sleep and have fun but Earthcomber, LLC. is claiming to be the first to match individual interests and favorites with specific places. The Illinois based company, filed a complaint on March 10, 2010 against the leader of consumer survey-based information, Zagat Survey, LLC. for patent infringement.

The patent in question is US Patent 7,589,628, “System and method for providing location-based information to mobile consumers”. The patents original assignee is listed as Earthcomber, and was filed in March 2006.

Earthcomber is claiming that the Zagat TO GO ‘09 application infringes upon their patent for determining restaurants for users based on their stored preferences. The complaint goes on to state that Zagat is also, “knowingly and actively inducing others to infringe and by contributing to the infringement by others”.

The complaint states 21 counts by which Zagats TO GO ’09 application infringes upon their patent.

According to Zagat’s website the Zagat TO GO ’09 application can be used on several mobile devices including, the iPhone, Andriod, Blackberry and Palm. The application uses GPS to find nearby restaurants sorting the results by food, decor, service and cost. The application also has the option for instant reservations and allows the user to browse by top-rated lists.

Developed in 2002 by Jim Brady, Earthcomber has several ways to access their information; the most prominent being their website, but a user can also download maps and information through a handheld device using the Earthcomber mobile software. The software helps the user to find nearby places of interest using GPS. The Earthcomber software currently works on the Palm, Windows Mobile-powered PDA’s, cell phones and some hybrid devices. Earthcomber also has an application for download on Apple’s iPhone and iTouch.

Based in New York City, Zagat started in 1979. According to their website, Zagat is, “the world’s leading provider of consumer survey-based information on where to eat, drink, stay and play”. They use ratings and reviews based on the opinions of over 350,000 surveyors. Zagat has been praised by several large supporters, including the NY Times, “A necessity second only to a valid credit card”, the newspaper stated.

In the complaint, Earthcomber asks to be awarded damages, prejudgment interest starting from the date the infringement began, increased damages to what the court sees fit, and attorneys fees. They are also asking for a permanent injunction barring Zagat from further infringement.

Both parties were contacted for comment, neither responded by press time.
In 2008, Earthcomber was involved in another complaint, where they alleged Loopt, a mobile social-mapping service based in California, of infringing another of their patents, 7,071,842, titled “a system and method for locating and notifying a user of a person, place or thing having attributes matching the user’s stated preferences”.

The suit never went to court and was later dropped by Earthcomber.

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