Groupon sues IBM over alleged patent infringement

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Groupon sues IBM over alleged patent infringement

Launches counter suit against 'once great' company.

Online marketplace Groupon has sued IBM for allegedly infringing a patent related to technology that helps businesses solicit customers based on the users' real-time location.

Groupon filed its lawsuit today with the federal court in its hometown of Chicago, two months after IBM accused Groupon of patent infringement in a separate lawsuit.

"IBM is trying to shed its status as a dial-up-era dinosaur" by infringing the rights of "current" technology companies such as Groupon, according to Groupon spokesman Bill Roberts.

However, IBM spokesperson Doug Shelton said the counter suit was "totally without merit." 

The lawsuit concerns IBM's WebSphere Commerce platform, which Groupon said lets merchants send messages to customers with GPS-enabled devices based on their real-time locations and their use of social media.

Groupon said the platform infringes a December 2010 patent, and argued it deserves royalties based on the "billions of dollars" of revenue that IBM has received through its infringement.

"IBM, a relic of once-great 20th Century technology firms, has now resorted to usurping the intellectual property of companies born this millennium," Groupon said in its lawsuit.

On March 2, IBM accused Groupon of infringing four patents, including two related to Prodigy, a late-1980s online service.

"Over the past three years, IBM has attempted to conclude a fair and reasonable patent license agreement with Groupon, and we are disappointed that Groupon is seeking to divert attention from its patent infringement by suing," Shelton said.

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