IBM relies on patent law to stop infringement once again

Glenn W. Peterson

Individuals and companies here in California and elsewhere rely on intellectual property rights for protection. Companies like IBM hold patents on a variety of technologies, and they keep an eye on anyone who may use them without permission. Recently, IBM relied on patent law once again when it filed a lawsuit against Airbnb.

With the growth of e-commerce, many companies use technologies for their platforms that involve patents belonging to others, including IBM. Many companies will work with the owners of those technologies in order to use them. However, some do not, and they could end up facing litigation because of it.

Some of IBM’s patents date back to dial-up connections, but appear to still be useful today and the company continues to vigorously enforce them. Airbnb is not the first that the company has accused of infringing on its patents. Groupon, Twitter, Amazon, Expedia and Priceline have all faced litigation with it and the results were mixed. Over the years, IBM has entered into licensing agreements with other companies, but negotiations with Airbnb were apparently not fruitful, which may have led to the current lawsuit.

Patent law may be clear about the protections it provides to patent owners, but it does not guarantee results if one of them believes another party is guilty of infringement. If an agreement cannot be worked out between the parties, litigation may be necessary in order to find a resolution to the matter, which can be time-consuming and expensive. However, the losses associated with a California patent owner not receiving the appropriate compensation for someone else using the material that is the subject of one or more patents could cost even more.