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    Re: Learn the stars, by phone
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 May 23, 09:15 -0700

    The patent in the 7 million range is for some other device or system, but 
    patent 6,366,212 does appear to be the basis for the SkyScout:
    It has magnetic sensors, gravity/acceleration sensors, location/time input, a 
    database of objects, and identify and find modes of operation. Beyond that, 
    as expected for a patent, the details are rather vague.
    But here's a question: suppose company A, e.g. Apple, builds a device, 
    presumably a smart mobile phone, that has the hardware features. This same 
    company A includes software with its device which identifies buildings and 
    landscape features (nothing astronomical and clearly outside the scope of the 
    patent above). Can company B, e.g. me, write software which contains the 
    database of astronomical objects and the identify/find features without 
    infringing on the above patent? Presumably the patent lawyers for this 
    invention maintain active searches for infringement and they're probably 
    reading this right now :-) (am I kidding or not??). I'm inclined to think 
    that it would not infringe, since their patent covers a purpose-built 
    astronomical device, but, to use an old Internet/Usenet acronym, IANAL.
    PS: for the acronym: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IANAL
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