Local.com saw its stock price rise 52% today after it was awarded patent number 7,200,413 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. According to the text of the patent, it covers what they term “Enhanced Directory Assistance”, which will deliver keyword specific ad referrals based on user input via operator, SMS, WAP, or voice.
This is in addition to their recently granted patent number 7,231,405, which covers crawling the web and geocoding location based content. This seems similar to a pending patent application that Google already has. For more info, Bill Slawski has an exhaustive list of Google’s local search patent applications including term definitions. He has a similar page focusing on Microsoft’s local search patents.
A lot of other patents have popped up in the local search space. Free 411’s Jingle Networks was recently granted a patent for rolling contextual advertisements before delivering directory assistance. Google recently applied for an ambitious local search patent.
Local search companies have already started having patent fights. London-based Geomas, owner of patent 5,930,474, which enables users to select information from a map, is using the patent in a suit against Verizon.
There’s some suspicion of how Local.com will be using these patents. However, in a rather unambiguous reference to the competition, CEO Heath Clarke states that “We encourage directory assistance and free 411 companies that are interested in using our intellectual property to enter into licensing agreements with Local.com.”