Crowd Sourced Traffic claims GPS mapping apps that allow users to submit traffic information infringe upon two of its patents. Photo by Flickr user edans, Enrique Dans.

Thinking about creating an app to crowd source traffic information?  There’s already a patent for that, says Crowd Sourced Traffic, LLC, which filed two lawsuits on Nov. 7 — one against a crowd-sourcing startup, and another against TomTom, one of the biggest makers of GPS mapping devices.

The company filed the suits in the Eastern District of Texas against the two GPS mapping software companies, Waze and TomTom, for exactly what it sounds like — applications that allow users to report and share information like bumper-to-bumper traffic and roadway accidents on maps.

The suits don’t name specific products, and identically claim that Waze and TomTom infringe upon two Crowd Sourced Traffic patents by using “a traffic information computer system that obtains data from users.”

Defendant Waze is a free traffic mobile app that relies on information input by members of its online community.  Based on a 2006 “Freemap” project to make GPS maps that reflect real road conditions in Israel, Waze was founded in 2009 and has made its way onto the Apple’s App Store top 25 free apps list, according to its website.  An Oct. 18 article in TechCrunch said Waze currently has more than 7 million users worldwide and recently raised $30 million in new funding.  A spokesperson for Waze declined to comment on Crowd Sourced’s suit.

The other defendant, Netherlands-based TomTom, is primarily a GPS device company that also offers iPhone and iPad apps with a trademarked “Map Share” feature that allows customers to submit and view crowd sourced traffic conditions.  A spokesperson for TomTom said the company is unable to comment on the litigation at this time.

Crowd Sourced’s patents, for computer systems that receive and display the average speed data for vehicles on maps, don’t actually mention the term “crowd sourcing,” but the company’s name makes clear that it believes it has patent rights in that area.

The patents were invented by Dimitri Vorona of Livingston, N.J.  He filed for a patent on a “system for transmitting, processing, receiving, and displaying traffic information” in 2003 and filed for a second patent, a continuation of the first, in 2008.  The patents were secured in 2008 and 2009 respectively.  Vorona and representation for Crowd Sourced Traffic declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The lawsuits state that Crowd Sourced is a Texas company, but the Texas Secretary of State’s office has no record of the company. Rather, records from New Jersey indicate Crowd Sourced was formed as a limited liability company in that state on June 28, 2011. Inventor Vorona is listed as the owner and manager.

Crowd Sourced Traffic is represented by both Ni Law Firm and Heninger Garrison Davis.  The company’s website is a bare-bones operation that only offers one link — an email address for those interested in licensing Vorona’s patents.

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