NIM’s patent features a method of providing real-time position information from one person to another by utilizing a traditional telephone, a mobile phone, a computer network, or the Internet. The invention allows a caller and a receiver of a telephone call to exchange position information related to the caller and/or receiver’s physical location, including address information, GPS coordinates or nearby fixed locations such as a restaurant or parking structure. Additionally, NIM’s patent allows a caller and receiver to retrieve routing instructions or maps for traveling to or from each other’s location.
This is the second patent NIM publicly announced since the beginning of the year. The previous one was U.S. Patent No. 7,321,826 for "Point of Interest Spatial Rating Search Method and System," a method allowing users to obtain ratings or other useful information when searching for a point of interest (POI) using a mobile GPS-enabled device that retrieves information stored on a server.
Does it mean the company wants to show teeth and use its IP as a threat to its competitors? According to Steve Andler, vice president marketing at NIM, who spoke to GPS Business News on this topic last February, “announcing we have intellectual property does not mean we are in the business of suing people”, but “our investors expect us to protect our intellectual property”. And this kind of intellectual property has a clear value. In April 2007, at a public patent auction in Chicago, another LBS-related patent was sold for US$2.6 million to an anonymous buyer. That one was covering a location based match-making technology, the system allowing users to make connections with other users based upon specified preferences and their distance.