Where, Inc., an LBS startup that has a few mobile apps already available, has been awarded a patent for its unique geofencing technology.
Patent number 7,848,765 was issued on Dec. 7th, more than five years after it was originally filed in May of 2005. It details the company’s method and systems for “geofencing and the associated delivery of applications, content and mobile coupons.” In relation to how the technology works for Where, the language in the patent describes it as:
“A method of providing a location-based service, comprising: providing a user interface that enables a user of a portable electronic device to define a geofence at a user-selected distance about a user-selected location, the geofence graphically indicated by an outline on a map displayed in the user interface; determining a current location of the portable electronic device using a location facility of the portable electronic device; passing the current location to an application server that monitors the current location of the portable electronic device with respect to the geofence; and in response to the application server determining that the current location of the portable electronic device is within the geofence, transmitting instructions to the portable electronic device to cause said device to offer a service to the user that is not offered when the user is external to the geofence.”
The concept of geofencing has been around for a while, and has just recently began to see usage skyrocket as more startups turn focus to mobile marketing and especially location-based services. For Where, the patent for its geofencing tech was a defensive move.
“Our strategy with patents is to use them to protect our business. As a growing and successful company, we have become a target and have been on the wrong side of two settlements already. We look at our patents as a shield to protect against predatory trolls, not a tool to stifle innovation,” says VP of Marketing Dan Gilmartin. “We do not see this as a game changer, rather a means through which we can continue to operate and grow our business and continue to innovate without threats.”