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Google's Earth lives to fight another day

But lawsuit still pending

Google won an early round in a patent lawsuit regarding the technology that drives Google Earth, the search giant's lawyer said yesterday.

The suit, filed by Skyline Software Systems Inc in the US District Court of Massachusetts, charges Google Earth with patent infringement. The case was originally filed against Keyhole Corp, the company that developed the software that drives Google Earth. Google acquired Keyhole in October 2004.

After the acquisition, Skyline added Google as a defendant. A year later, Skyline asked the judge for an injunction that would prevent Google from offering the Google Earth service. That lag time allowed Google's lawyer to argue that Skyline couldn't credibly say that Google Earth was causing it irreparable harm if it waited so long to file the injunction. The judge ruled against the injunction but the lawsuit is still pending.

Google Earth is a free application that show maps and satellite images of practically any location in the world. On Monday, Google introduced an upgrade to the program that features a new user interface and larger index of images.

Skyline sells software that offers a three dimensional visualisation of the earth compiled through satellite and aerial photography images. It targets customers in the military, communications, utility and civil-engineering industries.


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