One of the images from a patent in question in a suit filed against Redfin, Glympse, Trulia, OpenTable and others

A mysterious company by the name of Traffic Information LLC has sued Seattle area startups Redfin and Glympse — as well as a number of technology companies and financial institutions — over a patent titled “System for Providing Traffic Information.”

Traffic Information LLC says it owns patent No. 6,464,862 and that the companies named in the suit are infringing upon it.

Few details are provided in the suit on how the companies are allegedly violating the patent, and an attorney for Traffic Information LLC could not be reached today by GeekWire.

“Traffic has been irreparably damaged to an extent not yet determined and will continue to be irreparably damaged by such acts in the future unless each defendant is enjoined by this court from committing further acts of infringement,” the suit says.

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman and Glympse CEO Bryan Trussel declined to comment.

Traffic Information says it has no parent corporation and no publicly-traded company owns 10 percent or more of its stock.

Very little is known about the company, but a Bloomberg story from 2009 indicated that Traffic Information LLC had sued more than a dozen companies related to its patents. Past defendants have included Mazda, Volvo, Sony, Best Buy and T-Mobile USA.

An abstract describes the patent as a “system for providing traffic information to a plurality of mobile users connected to a network.”

Here’s more:

“The system comprises a plurality of traffic monitors, each comprising at least a traffic detector and a transmitter, the traffic detector generating a signal in response to vehicular traffic and the transmitter transmitting the signal. A receiver receives the signals from the traffic monitors. A computer system is connected to the receiver and is further connected to the network. The computer system in response to a request signal received from one of the users transmits in response thereto information representative of the signals transmitted by the traffic monitoring units.”

The suit was filed in the Eastern District Court of Texas, which happens to be the jurisdiction of a lengthy expose on the patent system by This American Life.

Other defendants named in the suit are: Bok Financial; Bank of Texas; Capital One Financial; Capital One Bank; Layar; Move Inc.; OpenTable: Poynt; Scvngr; Smarter Agent and Trulia.

Here’s a copy of the lawsuit:

Lawsuit agaist Redfin

Here’s a copy of the patent filing: Patent filing related to Redfin and others

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  • Nick White

    Will we hear more on this one later?

    There has been a ton of discussion on the merits of the Seattle start-up scene vs. Silicon Valley, but what about creating a more viable tech start-up environment for everyone regardless of location? For me, that is a much more important question that has much broader implications, like jobs, the U.S.s’ role in the global tech ecosystem…the list goes on. 

    What does this mean for a (probably) unprofitable company like Glympse? I don’t expect we’ll see them making headlines in the Tech Moves section of your paper anytime soon…

    Traffic Information sounds like it was ripped straight out of a This American Life episode (this This American Life episode – I wonder if this is Seattle’s very own Intellectual Ventures harming Seattle’s very own tech scene…but who really knows.

  • Anonymous

    If this case demonstrates anything is the need for some tort reform to prevent “venue shopping”.  It will be interesting to see if this “Texas” company can show “irreperable harm” done by the companies in the suit.  Notice that the inventors are from Portland, OR and Camas, WA.  Isn’t what is described in the patent what Inrix does?

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