A lawsuit has ensued at the US District Court in Delaware between IBM and Expedia over patents that date way back to the 1980s. The travel giant and a number of its subsidiary travel sites (including HomeAway, Hotels.com, Hotwire and Orbitz) have been accused of infringing on several of IBM’s patents specifically relating to how online content is delivered, including aspects like ad technology, sign on processes, tracking previous communications with users and more.
IBM is seeking an injunction against Expedia and its subsidiaries from using the patented technology, as well as up to triple the amount of damages awarded in a jury trial. IBM also “seeks royalties on the billions of dollars in revenue that defendants have received based on their infringement of IBM’s patented technology,” according to the lawsuit.
There are four patents being questioned in the lawsuit filed by IBM this week. Those patents are:
- US patent 5,961,601 – this dates back to 1996 and related to preservation of communications over a web browser via a CGU program.
- US patent 7,631,346 – filed in 2006 and looks at how to handle single sign-on with a service provider that then uses credentials with other services through the system
- US Patent 5,796,967 – this dates back to 1989, covering how the interface of web-based applications can be used to shift processing tasks from a server to a client PC
- Patent 7,072,849 – dating back to 1988, this patent covers how web services can put ads on client machines.
The most important claims that have so far arisen from the case are numbers 3 & 4 listed above. This is because IBM alleges these patents were used as part of the development of Prodigy that IBM helped launch in the 1980’s. IBM suggest Expedia would not be where they are today without infringing on these patents.
IBM claim they attempted negotiations with Expedia 4 years ago (2014) when they first contacted Orbitz – which was acquired by Expedia three years ago – about patent infringement from 2011. In their suit, IBM state that “Because IBM’s over six-year struggle to negotiate a license agreement that remedies defendants’ unlawful conduct has failed, IBM has been forced to seek relief through litigation.”
In a statement, IBM said it has reached an agreement to resolve the patent lawsuit between IBM and The Priceline Group. As part of the confidential settlement, the parties will obtain patent cross-licenses to each company’s worldwide patent portfolio.
“IBM takes pride in its reputation and track record for innovation. This agreement further demonstrates the value of our intellectual property that results from this innovation,” said Dr. William Lafontaine, general manager of Intellectual Property for IBM. “We are pleased this matter has been resolved through negotiation and licensing.”
Expedia declined to comment.