US Patent on Real Estate Search and Location System ?

by Glenn Letham

Turns out that a 1991 patent covers off that technology and as a result some legal action is being taken against a real estate agent. Imagine if this one flies? Do you realize how many real estate agents have implemented similar functionality into their website? What about companies like RealBird who also have commercial products based on the same premise? Details of the patent are below:

The U.S. Patent (No. 5,032,989), "Real Estate Search and Location System and Method," was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1991, at a time when the commercial use of the Internet was in its infancy. It covers a mapping system "for locating available real estate properties for sale, lease or rental using a database of available properties at a central location and remote stations which use a graphic interface," according to the document. The patent also includes a "drilldown" feature, under which specific areas can be displayed in greater detail -- The PR is also listed in detail here

What's your take on this? Imagine holding a patent on searching for hotels, parks, or ??? Seems kind of crazy if you ask me