Uber announced that is will be acquiring mapping technology company deCarta. According to TechCruch, deCarta “provides a range of location and map services, including in-map search, location APIs, turn-by-turn navigation and more.” The location based services (LBS) space related to mobile and mapping integration is heavily crowded in terms of patents. Companies such as Nokia, Microsoft, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Google, and Apple already have matured patent portfolios covering key technologies for the LBS industry.
Envision IP analyzed deCarta’s US patent portfolio to understand what types of technologies Uber stands to gain from the acquisition. deCarta owns 25 issued patents, and has another 6 pending, published patent applications. The company’s patents cover, for example, various aspects of route planning, point-of-interest identification, and internet-based map searching. Below are excerpts from deCarta’s various patents:
US 8,4,89,324: “A transactional billing model can be used to bill the driver based on usage or consumption of traffic information. A driver selects a destination and routing preferences on a mobile device, and the local system generates a routing. The mobile device sends the planned route and preferences to a server. The server uses real-time traffic flow and incident information to determine an estimated driving time for the planned route.”
US 8,401,786: “A routing engine performs a reverse exploration on nodes in the planned route to locate POIs from which the route can be reached with a cost of less than a second cost n. POIs identified as being reachable from the route with a cost of less than m, and from which the route is reachable with a cost less than n are then further filtered…”
US 8,219,578: “High-precision local search is performed on the Internet. A map image-rendering software provider embeds spatial keys into maps, which are then provided to producers of Internet content such as map providers.”
Interestingly, deCarta transferred 7 patents to Google in 2012 that relate to matching mobile users and service providers, mobile advertising, and connecting mobile users based on the degree of separation. In 2014, deCarta sold another 6 patents to Samsung related to mobile user notifications.
deCarta appears to be very patent-savvy, having obtained, developed, and divested patent assets over the years. Its ability to acquire patents in such a crowded space, and subsequently sell select patents to Google and Samsung indicates that deCarta owns potentially high-quality patent assets. These patents will certainly bolster Uber’s patent portfolio, which as of today, consists of 17 pending patent applications and no issued patents (up from 16 published applications from our review last December).