Elon Musk, the brains behind Tesla Motors, PayPal, and SpaceX, seems to have always been quite the innovative thinker. In the early 90s and 2000s, he submitted a series of different patents relating to the way we use the internet in terms of search and communication. As originally covered in qz, his ideas predate many of the apps we are so familiar with today.
In 1997, Musk filed for a patent that is comparable to various communication applications such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype. The patent describes giving computers the ability to place calls online as users came across various phone numbers. The user could click on a company contact and get connected via a call center, similar to what happens when you tap on a phone number from your smart phone today.
In 1998, Musk submitted another patent in which the main purpose was to increase the speed of geographic searches. The goal was to create an automatic search process that would widen the area of your search until the appropriate amount of results were found. This would allow you to find the closest businesses in your area, without having to do multiple searches. This is exactly the process that Google currently uses for location-specific searches.
In 1999, Musk filed two patents (1)(2), for a directory service that would consist of a single database that would hold information about a particular business, as well as directions and contact information for its location(s). This idea is reminiscent of what Yelp and Google Places provide. The applications also suggest the functionality of the tool could be extended to various other categories.
If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.
Andrei Tsygankov is the Co-Founder and COO of SmartUp® and a partner at Founders Legal (Bekiares Eliezer LLP). As an attorney, Andrei specializes in corporate, commercial, trademark, and international business matters.
Source: Smartup Legal