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Accountant Sues Waze for Allegedly Stolen Code

TMCnet Feature

March 31, 2014

Accountant Sues Waze for Allegedly Stolen Code

By Casey Houser
Contributing Writer

Only nine months after Google (News - Alert) purchased Waze for $1.1 billion, the crowdsourced GPS navigation company is facing a lawsuit. According to Globes, an Israeli news source, accountant Roy Gorodish has filed a lawsuit for the amount of NIS 500 million (approximately $143 million) because the software allegedly uses code from the Freemap Israel community project.

Gorodish says that Waze's founder, Ehud Shabtai, reportedly built the company's software with code from the Roadmap software -- part of Freemap Israel -- which citizens of Israel contribute to and maintain. Therefore, because it is a citizen-run project, Gorodish claims that the community has a right to profit from Google's purchase last summer.

The attorney has reportedly asked the court to file the lawsuit as a class action suit and feels that $64 million should go to community members who created the original Freemap map and software. The value of $64 million is exactly half the value of Waze's intellectual property when Google bought the company. Furthermore, Globes says he is of the opinion that both Freemap and Waze should be classified as open-source and, as a result, open to use by anyone.

The spokesman for Waze, as of last week, had not yet received formal information pertaining to the lawsuit. In response to the claim that the company was under fire from Gorodish, the spokesman said, “We have not yet received the statement of claim. If and when it arrives, we'll study it and respond accordingly."

The Waze website lists its product as “all about contributing to the 'common good' out there on the road.” The software works on users' smartphones to passively contribute data about driving routes in addition to actively accepting manual input about current accidents, police traps, and other such hindrances.

While driving a route, users can turn on the Waze app and let the program analyze how they have driven from point A to point B. In the future, when any additional user intends to reach that same destination in a similar manner, Waze can use its crowdsourced data and suggest faster routes that a driver hasn't used before.

A group of community editors also work to maintain core map data within the app. So, drivers don't only rely on routes provided by their fellow countrymen, they reach their destinations through stable maps that seek to provide them with an accurate representation of the real world.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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