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September 24, 2017

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Bing Maps targeted in patent lawsuit

Microsoft Corp., the world's biggest software-maker, was sued by a Virginia company that claims the Bing search engine's mapping program uses its patented invention without permission.

Skyline Software Systems Inc. sued Microsoft and closely held Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. in federal court on Dec. 31. Skyline contends its patent is infringed by ESRI's ArcGis Explorer, as well as Microsoft's Bing Maps, Surface Globe for Windows 7, and Bing Map Toolbar for Internet Explorer. It's seeking cash compensation and an order barring future infringement.

The patent, issued in June, covers a way of sending three- dimensional images over the Internet. Closely held Skyline, based in Chantilly, Virginia, makes terrain-visualization software that allows 3-D tours of land masses on computers and handheld devices.

Microsoft is relying on Bing to compete with Google Inc., owner of the world's most popular Internet search engine. Among other features, the companies have competing map services that provide directions. In November, Microsoft took 10.3 percent of the Internet search market, while Google had 65.6 percent, according to ComScore Inc. of Reston, Virginia.

In 2007, a federal judge in Boston said the Google Earth program didn't infringe a different Skyline patent for mapping technology. The case was dismissed at the request of both sides before it was heard on appeal, according to the case docket in federal court in Boston.

Skyline's suit against Microsoft and ESRI has been assigned to a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia.

Skyline was founded in 1997 and on its Web site says it is a "Microsoft certified partner." Its software, primarily used by government agencies, was used to help in the relief effort after the May 2008 earthquake in the Chinese province of Sichuan, according to the company's Web site.

Kevin Kutz, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington- based Microsoft, declined to comment on the complaint.

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