New Jersey consumers may be wondering about the ongoing legal dispute between the tech companies IBM and Groupon over the latter's alleged use of four protected e-commerce patents. IBM claims that Groupon illegally used several of its proprietary technologies without permission. Other tech companies pay millions of dollars in licensing fees for the rights to use the same patents.
The legal dispute began in 2016 and involves technology patents spanning the course of several decades. Included in IBM's suit are patents that preceded the modern internet, such as two associated with the Prodigy online service of the 80's and 90's. The most recent patent is one that gives users the option to log into a third-party website using their Google or Facebook accounts. Lawyers for IBM are demanding $167 million in compensation for Groupon's alleged use of its patents without paying the hefty licensing fees. According to lawyers for IBM, other large tech companies, such as Facebook and Amazon, have paid licensing fees of between $20 and $50 million for the same patents Groupon uses without permission.
IBM claims the licensing fees charged to other companies that utilize the technologies it develops are required due to the billions of dollars it spends every year in their research and development. IBM has been responsible for the development of numerous technologies, including the ATM machine, the personal computer and the UPC barcode, among many others. An attorney for Groupon insisted IBM's claim was baseless because the patents don't include the world wide web, which IBM did not develop.
Smaller companies and individuals working on an invention or with a patent application pending can also use an attorney to help them understand how patent law affects their work. Furthermore, an attorney could help them defend their intellectual property in court.