IBM drops patent bomb on Priceline.com

Dot-com pioneer fitted with web and network suit

IBM is taking discount leisure travel service Priceline.com to court claiming patent infringement.

The global systems giant alleges that Priceline infringed on four of IBM's patents in the running of its websites, among them restaurant reservation service OpenTable and travel-booking agent Kayak.com.

Big Blue is seeking royalties and fees to cover the patents’ alleged illegal use. IBM lodged its case [court document] with the US District Court for the District of Delaware.

The US patents in question are:

  • 5,796,967: Method for presenting applications in an interactive service
  • 7,072,849: Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service
  • 5,961,601: Computerized method
  • 7,631,346: Method and system for a runtime user account creation operation within a single-sign-on process in a federated computing environment

The patents span 10 years, starting in 1999. They cover a setting up a user account with single-sign-on in a federate computing environment; a way to present applications as an interactive service; a method for presenting advertising as an interactive service; and a way to preserve state information between a client and server.

Priceline – famously advertised by former USS Enterprise captain William Shatner – began life offering cheap travel and accommodation.

It was one of the few survivors of the 1990s dot-com boom, an infatuation with the browser-based web, and was launched in 1997 as Name Your Own Price. Priceline bought Kayak for $1.8bn in 2012 and OpenTable in 2014 in a $2.6bn cash deal. ®

The case is: International Business Machines Corp v. The Priceline Group Inc - No. 15-00137.

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