April 12, 2007

Global Locate vs. SiRF – GPS Chipset Patent Dispute

I thought I would post a summary of the patent dispute between the two GPS chipset giants. I don’t pretend to be a patent lawyer specializing in GPS electronics technology, so forgive me, but a lot of folks are interested in what’s going on here and what the latest news is. It's well known that SiRF created a breakthrough change in the GPS chipset market with their SiRF star III chipset. Global Locate has developed their own chipset that is a high sensitivity receiver and then the patent battles began. A big change in the tide occurred in January 2007 when TomTom confirmed that they are moving to Global Locate chipsets for their TomTom ONE unit, kicking off a tit-for-tat dispute that has lawyers spending late nights trying to one up the other guys.

Here's some info for you:

  • Motorola Invests in Global Locate
  • TomTom Rumors that they are moving to Global Locate Chips - after which the SiRF stock dropped precipitously as a result of the rumor.
  • SiRF then Sues Global Locate for Patent Infringement - SiRF's complaint alleges infringement by Global Locate and its distributor of four of SiRF's GPS technology patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,091,904; 7,043,363; 6,850,557; and 6,636,178.
  • Global Locate then counter sues SiRF
  • TomTom confirms that it is Going with Global Locate Chips and not SiRF on the TTOne model.
  • SiRF seeks to halt GPS Imports that include Global Locate Chips; could this mean the TomTom ONE?
  • Similarly Global Locate wants to stop GPS imports that have the offending or disputed rather GPS chipsets in them, namely models from ETen, Mitac, Mio, and Pharos. I wonder why they didn't pick Garmin or TomTom? Their SiRF Star III equipped models may not infringe or it may just be a prudent business decision not to piss off the two global leaders and potential HUGE clients.
  • An Investigation was officially opened on the above complaint by Global Locate.

    Stay tuned, more to come, I am sure!

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    Posted by Scott Martin at April 12, 2007 8:01 AM
  • Recent Comments

    Nice overview. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date. This is an interesting battle, but I wish these guys were focusing on making better chips :)

    Do you have a sense of the comparative performances of these company's chips? I am a big fan of SiRF Star III but I have never tested a device with Global Locate.

    Posted by: joost at April 12, 2007 9:01 PM
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