In the method of the invention objects can be identified on the basis of location and one or more characteristics in an improved way. The method is performed by means of a user device and a service product offering a service with which objects can be identified. In the method of the invention, the object to be identified is positioned and the position of the object is informed to the service to which the user device has connected. The user of the user device selects one or more characteristics presented by the service for an object to be identified. A message containing the position of the object to be identified and selected characteristic(s) is then sent from the user device to the service product. The service fetches information on the basis of the position of the object and the selected characteristic(s) from a database. The fetched information is presented for the user device in the form of alternative objects to be identified. The system of the invention is characterized by a...The description seems very general, and I can't see anything that qualifies as novel, but on a quick read suggests that anybody writing, say, an iPhone application to identify an organism based on where you are and what it looks like will be in trouble.
There are other patent applications in this area, such as Managing taxonomic information by the developers of uBio, which claims:
In a management of taxonomic information, a name that specifies an organism is identified. Based on the name and a database of organism names or classifications, another name that specifies the organism and that represents a link between pieces of biological identification information in the database, or a classification for the organism, is determined. Based on the other name or the classification, information associated with the organism is identified.
Now, I'm clearly no expert on software patents, and this is a contentious area, but this strikes me as a little worrying (worst case scenario, biodiversity informatics becomes a victim of patent trolls). One could argue that patents can be used defensively (i.e., to ensure that a technology is not claimed by another, say commercial, party who then limits access based on cost), but I'd like to see a little more discussion of these issues by the biodiversity community.