United American Corp, together with the Canadian Investel Capital Corporation, filed a patent infringement suit against Instagram, Inc. and Facebook Canada LTD at the Federal Court of Canada. The allegation is that the geofilters of the social media platforms on mobile devices infringe the plaintiff’s patent for a mobile content sharing application.
Geofilters violates content sharing system
The allegations of patent infringement are highly controversial for all social media companies, as geofilters are a key function. Both Facebook Frames and Instagram Geostickers provide the user with image overlays that use the geolocalization of the user. Users can then post their content to their respective social media accounts.
The patent to which United American Corp. and Investal Capital refer is known under the brand name “iFramed”. Under “User Content Sharing System and Method With Location-Based External Content Integration” (U. S. Patent Application No. 15/240,515), the patent in question is protected in both the U. S. A. and Canada (patent no. 2,887,596), and several international patent applications are also pending, including in Japan, Australia, China, India and Europe.
Geofilters are important for sharing and advertising messages
Investal Capital describes iFramed as the world’s first social media hosting gateway technology and an advanced content sharing platform. The iFramed application allows users to add additional content to their photos or videos depending on their location. For example, users can brand photos or videos based on their location, or add a reference to local businesses. In the opinion of Unitied American Corp. and Investel Capital, the geofilter functions of Instagram and Facebook therefore constitute a direct infringement of the intellectual property of their iFramed patent.
Since the geofilters are also used by social media companies to place advertising messages even more precisely, this is an explosive patent battle. United American Corp and Investal Capital offer their iFramed filter function as an app for iOS and Android. UnitedCorp claims damages for previous infringements of the iFramed patent and claims injunctive relief.
Patent infringement suit also against Snap
Investal Capital has also taken action against Snap Inc. since 2016, also accusing Snap’s geofilters of infringing the iFramed patent. Since 2016, Snap has been sued before the Canadian Federal Court (T-1406-16), and since February 2017, before the U. S. District Court of California by Investal Capital. In June 2017, United American Corp, a holding and management company based in Florida, then acquired the rights to iFramed Canada – and also the ongoing infringement suits for geofilter technology.
Facebook convicted of unauthorized data storage
Last week, Facebook suffered a defeat in a European court, this time not because of a patent infringement, but because of unauthorized data storage. The the Dutch-speaking court of first instance in Brussel ruled that Facebook was unjustifiably storing the surfing behaviour of Internet users, confirming the Commission for the Protection of Privacy (CPVP). This is a preliminary stage victory for the Belgian data protectionists in a long-standing trial.
Criticism focuses on the Datr cookie, and Facebook’s data storage without the consent of Internet users, especially to non-Facebook members. The court ordered Facebook not to collect any more data about Belgian Internet users and to delete all previously unauthorized data collected, otherwise high daily penalties will be imposed. Facebook announced an appeal against this judgement.
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