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Wilmington, Delaware: Google Inc was sued by a German architectural firm over a patent for technology that allows users to provide space-based images of the earth.

Art+Com, which is based in Berlin, claims Google infringed on the architectural firm’s patent when the search-engine provider unveiled its Google Earth application in 2005, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday. That technology allows Google users to get images of earth provided by space satellites.

Google infringed by providing Google Earth for users to download, along with web-accessible tutorials, Art+Com executives said in the suit, which was filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Google Earth’s space-based images help users track weather data, for example. Conservationists in Kenya have used the application to combat elephant poachers by outfitting the animals with collars equipped with global-positioning chips.

David Krane, a spokesman for Mountain View, California- based Google, didn’t immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment on the suit.

Terravision system

Art+Com said it owns a patent on space-imaging technology that provides the basis for its Terravision system, according to the complaint.

Terravision is a networked virtual representation of the earth based on satellite images, aerial shots and altitude and architectural data, Art+Com said in the complaint. It provides an environment to organize and access information spatially.

Google Earth, Google Earth Pro and Google Earth Enterprise incorporate Art+Com’s technology, according to the complaint.

Art+Com executives had discussions with Google officials about selling the patent in 2006, the company said. The German firm accused Google of making a lowball offer.

A reasonable company in Google’s position in the summer of 2006 would have engaged Art+COM on acceptable terms of sale, the company said.

The case is Art+Com Innovationpool GmbH v. Google Inc, No. 14-217, US District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington). BLOOMBERG

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