On the same day that Snapchat announced it was to float on the NYSE the social media giant faced a claim to invalidate one of its patents by a Canadian company, Investel, who is trying to launch a competing service, IFrame.
The claim alleges that Snapchat infringes Investel's Canadian patent on location-based photo filters. Investel says that Snapchat owns a U.S. patent on similar technology, and wants the US patent invalidated and a declaration that Investel does not infringe the Snapchat patent if it is found valid.
According to a report on Law360, Snapchat said in a statement Friday that "Investel's patent claim against Snap is meritless, and their new filing today is a futile effort to cash in on publicity around Snap's business plans."
The dispute hinges on a Snapchat feature called "geofilters," which detect the user's location and add designs related to photos, like the name of the city. The company's website describes the filters as "special overlays that communicate the 'where and when' of a Snap in a fun way."
Investel apparently launched its iFramed service using the technology in Canada in 2014. The service lets users share photos and other content with additional features, including advertisements, based on their location.
And that perhaps is the nub of the claim. Is this a genuine attempt to ensure that Investel can compete fairly with Snapchat in the market place or is it a calculated attempt to elicit payments for the Investel technology by raising the issue publicly at a sensitive time for Snapchat Investors prior to the IPO.
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