SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kronenberger Rosenfeld, LLP, a San Francisco-based law firm, filed a lawsuit on behalf of PhantomALERT, Inc., a GPS navigation technology company, against Waze, Inc. and its acquirer, Google, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that, before it was acquired by Google, Waze copied PhantomALERT’s proprietary database without permission and incorporated that misappropriated data into Waze’s popular iPhone and Android navigation apps. The result was an unjustified and significant monetary gain for Waze, and now Google, which acquired Waze for over $1 billion in 2013.
PhantomALERT’s database includes a systematic process for identifying “points of interest” for users, as well as traffic conditions, road hazards, and traffic enforcement monitors. This database has been carefully curated by PhantomALERT staff for more than seven years.
The lawsuit also states that in 2010, Waze’s CEO approached PhantomALERT about sharing database information between the firms. PhantomALERT declined to proceed, in part because Waze did not have a substantial database to share at that time. Following Waze’s unsuccessful overture, PhantomALERT alleges that Waze repeatedly copied its Points of Interest database, and that to this day Google continues to use this misappropriated and copyrighted database content.
PhantomALERT determined that Waze duplicated its Points of Interest database, in part, by observing the presence of fictitious seeded points of interest from its database in the Waze application—which is a common method of detecting copying in large datasets.
“Waze needed to grow its database to increase its value and become more attractive to potential acquirers,” said Karl Kronenberger, Partner with Kronenberger Rosenfeld, LLP. “Our complaint alleges that Waze stole PhantomALERT’s database when Waze could not get it legally, and then sold itself to Google for over $1 billion.”
“The financial and reputational damages we have incurred from having our unique and carefully built database stolen are staggering,” said Joseph Scott Seyoum, PhantomALERT’s Chief Executive Officer. “While we cannot undo the past, we can ensure that those who took our intellectual property no longer profit from it at our expense.”
Mr. Scott explains, “I started PhantomALERT seven years ago as an entrepreneur with a dream, and now that dream has been crushed by companies that are profiting from the years of blood, sweat and tears our team put into our product.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages as well as an injunction against Waze and Google related to the Waze website and app, and to Google’s use of the Waze data in other applications.
Kronenberger Rosenfeld, LLP is a San Francisco-based Internet, technology and media law firm. The firm counsels clients across the United States and internationally on a variety of Internet and intellectual property matters, including hacking, trade secret litigation, trademark and copyright infringement, spam litigation defense, Internet defamation and false advertising, cybersquatting, website agreements, and privacy matters.
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