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2/15/2008
07:37 PM
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Contract Worker Sues Google Over Google Sky

Hired through WorkforceLogic USA, he claims to have come up with the idea and presented it on an internal Google Groups e-mail discussion group.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Atlanta's Northern District Court of Georgia, a former Google contract worker claims that Google stole his idea for Google Sky.

Google Sky is a feature that was added to the Google Earth application last August that lets users navigate through stars and galaxies.

Plaintiff Jonathan Cobb claims that starting in 2006, as a contractor hired through WorkforceLogic USA, he convened an internal Google Groups e-mail discussion group wherein he "presented, advanced, and refined the Google Sky concept and idea."

The discussion group, Cobb claims, included Google managers involved in Google Earth and related programs.

"Defendant Google took the concepts and ideas originally presented by Plaintiff and, without any notice or credit being extended to Plaintiff, used them as its own," the complaint states. "...Such actions represent a violation of Defendant Google's publicized corporate motto 'Do No Evil.'"

Cobb claims that Google took his idea "despite the fact that [he], when making application for contractor work with Defendant WorkforceLogic USA, made disclosure of his previously developed Sky idea and concept."

Through the e-mail discussion group, Cobb claims he proposed: "(a) An interface similar to that of Google Earth with upgrades, including the presentation of a Day and Night view and related space imagery; (b) An interface with differing telescope control systems; (c) Access to and the ability to use GPS devices for positioning information; (d) Object tracking; (e) Forecasting; (f) The ability to subscribe to high resolution imagery from earth and space-based telescopes; (g) Live image overlay and recording ability; and (h) Optical modulation measurement."

Cobb is seeking $25 million in damages; WorkforceLogic is also named as a defendant.

Neither Google nor WorkforceLogic immediately responded to requests for comment.

Attorneys for Cobb were also not available.

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