IBM seeks US$167m from Groupon in dispute over early internet patents

IBM sued deals site Groupon in 2016 over four patents.                  Gabriel Bouys  AFP  Getty Images

IBM has demanded a settlement of $167 million in its latest lawsuit at United States federal court, alleging that e-commerce marketplace Groupon is using IBM's technology without authorization, reports Reuters.

According to IBM lawyer John Desmarais, eCommerce market operator Groupon infringed certain patents on foundational eCommerce technology.

"A key question for you, in this case, is whether these patents cover the world wide web", Groupon lawyer J. David Hadden said. "Groupon has not. The new kid on the block refuses to take responsibility for using these inventions".

For the record, IBM has more USA patents from past 25 years than any other company because of its large investments in research and development.

Groupon and IBM have been slugging it out in a patent spat since 2016, and Reuters reports that the latest move by IBM is to seek a substantial sum for the damages it reckons it's suffered from Groupon infringing its patents.

An IBM executive is expected to testify during the two-week trial about licensing deals with technology companies like Amazon and Google, Reuters said. Another patent concerned "single sign on" that enables customers to log-in to a merchants website without the need to use a Facebook or Google account.

IBM's main argument is it's a big innovator and it wants to license its tech in a reasonable fashion, but when Groupon refused to negotiate a deal, it had no choice but to whinge complain to the courts. Meanwhile, Groupon accuses that IBM uses its huge stock of patents as a club to get money from other companies. According to Bloomberg, IBM has been winning the largest number of patents in the United States every year over the past 25 years.

"We are here because IBM has another business, a business it doesn't talk about in its TV commercials", Hadden said.

IBM is suing coupons site Groupon for $167m over allegations the company used patented technology without permission.

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