IBM has quite recently sued the short-term rental giant, Airbnb, by claiming that it took innovations made by IBM for running its e-commerce business, in particular, the innovations used by IBM in Prodigy (one of the first comprehensive tools making e-commerce experiences available before the advent of the World Wide Web). To be specific, the computing giant has accused Airbnb over Patent Infringement by alleging that the company has built its business using IBM’s patents corresponding to functions, including improving navigation using bookmarks and presenting advertising in an interactive service.
The patents involved in the lawsuit are US Patent Nos. 6,966,038 (the ‘038 patent), 6,778,193 (the ‘193 patent), 7,631,346 (the ‘346 patent), and 7,072,849 (the ‘849 patent). The ‘038 patent described a method of improving navigation by using bookmarks. The ‘193 patent outlined a method of improving search results based on user context. The ‘346 patent described and claimed improvements corresponding to single-sign-on technology for first-time users. The ‘849 patent was used by IBM to develop Prodigy, a precursor to the World Wide Web. The patent involved taking advantage of the computing power of a user’s PC for increasing the response speed.
In its complaint filed, IBM has claimed that Airbnb has appropriated the inventions of the patents specified in the lawsuit instead of building its business using its original technologies. IBM further said that Airbnb’s apps and websites use the technology claimed by the patents along with the way its apps, websites, and advertising are structured. The tech giant also stated that it wants other organizations and companies to use its technological advances but only with a well-defined contract and license agreement for the same. In a recent statement, IBM mentioned that after going through almost six years of unsuccessful discussions with Airbnb to reach a reasonable and fair patent license agreement, it had no other option except filing a legal action to protect its Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
An Airbnb spokesperson, on the other hand, said that Airbnb believes this case has no merit at all and is looking forward to coming to an outcome that vindicates this position.
IBM strongly believes that its utmost commitment to developing these types of advanced computing technologies has significantly helped to usher in the present information and digital age. The company has demanded a jury trial and is now looking forward to seeking an injunction against further issues of patent infringement, along with an award of damages for the said infringement in the past six years.