A few days ago a visitor posted a link to a news story about a patent infringement case involving a successful real estate agent making use of a computer mapping system without acquiring a license for it first. The mapping system wasn’t the same as Google Maps but does hold a patent and royalties are owed for those who profit from it. In the story it states that “an average residential real estate agent may owe royalties of as much as $50,000 before the company’s patent expires in 2008.” The case raises some important questions when considering the possible actions that could be taken for those not making use of a sanctioned API (such as the Google Maps API), thereby licensing the application or mashup you are creating.
A good lesson to anyone thinking about using the Google Maps API in their applications. As the dust begins to settle on the Google Maps API, people are beginning to think about the implications of a “free” API. As I’ve said before, they’ll eventually either want to pay for a license to use one or go open source. Another great reason to open the ArcWeb Services API to these people as when they need to have a deployment license, they won’t have to learn a new API.
I doubt ESRI could have ever generated the press Google has for web mapping, but they might as well take advantage of it.