Glympse, a location sharing startup, allows contacts to share their geographic location with each other for a preset period of time.  The company was started in 2008 by Microsoft alums Bryan Trussel and Steve Miller.  Th Glympse App is available for Android, iPhone, WinPhone7 and Blackberry.

With the recent release of Apple’s iOS5, Apple introduced a competitor to Glympse called Find My  Friends (announced by Apple at the iOS5 event on October 4).  Apple advertises a variety of privacy and security features built into Find My Friends,  including the ability to “choose to temporarily share your location with a group of people. It’s perfect for a weekend camping trip or a day at the amusement park. Share locations for a couple of hours — or a couple of weeks. When the trip is over, the sharing ends, too.”

As a result, Find My Friends will certainly compete with the Glympse app within the Apple App Store.  So does Glympse have any chance of surviving against competition from Apple?  Certainly, the respective product features of the apps will play a key role in the outcome.  However, both Apple and Glympse have another card up their sleeves.  PatentlyApple noted in June that Apple filed a patent application on a feature that includes a location sharing feature.  Apple’s application was filed in December 2009.

For its part, it appears that Glympse has also filed at least one U.S. Patent Application.  A published PCT Application No. WO2010009328 reveals that it is based on a provisional  application No. 61/081,313 filed on July 16, 2008.  The USPTO PAIR database reveals that a new U.S. non-provisional application No. 13/054,075 was filed based on the PCT Application on September 6, 2011 (though the files were forwarded from the International office on January 13, 2011).

The claims filed in the PCT application appear to be the same as those filed in the non-provisional, claim 1 recites (underlining added for emphasis):

1. A system, comprising,
a source client executable on a first electronic device in communication with the server,a server, and

wherein the server is configured to provide to a second electronic device in communication with the server access to location data implementable by a user interface associated with the second electronic device, the location data enabling the user interface to display the geographical location of the first electronic device, the access to the location data being accessible to the second electronic device only during a time interval designated by a user of the first electronic device.

It will be interesting to see whether the timer feature underlined above is sufficient to get an allowance from the USPTO and if so, whether Glympse is willing to use the patent offensively (or defensively) against Apple.  However, it is clear that Glympse is positioning itself to defend its turf in the location sharing space.  If necessary, Glympse may also look to further define the “time interval” feature based on the functionality of the Find My Friends app.

In addition to the patent application, Glympse has also filed several Trademark applications. One such trademark is for the character marks “Share Your Where” and “Glympse.”