Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Groupon says IBM copied its platform

Many New Jersey residents use the website Groupon to find deals on products and services in their local areas. Groupon is an online marketplace that uses its customers' current locations to sell limited time special offers for local businesses. On May 9, Groupon initiated intellectual property litigation and accused IBM of infringing on a technology patent that it owns.

The patent infringement lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Chicago and concerns a patent that Groupon has owned since December 2010. According to Groupon, the WebSphere Commerce platform created by IBM is too similar to Groupon's platform because it allows businesses to communicate with potential customers based on their current locations. Groupon says that it should be paid billions of dollars by IBM for revenues that have been generated as a result of the patent infringement.

IBM claims that the lawsuit filed against it by Groupon is simply an effort to divert attention away from another federal patent infringement lawsuit involving the two companies. IBM filed a federal lawsuit against Groupon on March 2 over four patents that it accuses Groupon of infringing upon. Two of the four patents involve a pre-Internet computer communications system from the 1980s called Prodigy.

A lawyer may be able to help a new company apply for patents to protect new products or computer systems that it has invented. If a competitor infringes upon the patents later on, a lawyer may help the patent owner to file a lawsuit against the competitor. Protecting a patent by pursuing litigation against one company may help to reaffirm the ownership of the patent and dissuade other companies from infringing on it in the future.

Source: CNBC, "Groupon sues 'once-great' IBM over patent," May 10, 2016

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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