A legal dispute has arisen between IBM and Airbnb, with suggestion that the latter has built its company service strongly based on IBM’s e-commerce technology, without any legal permission to do so. IBM are now taking legal action, with the produce of four patents for infringement, related to Airbnb advertising services, as well as other applications.
This certainly does not come as good news to the Airbnb company, as previously IBM have successfully taken on legal battles with Twitter and Groupon, costing the latter two companies millions of dollars. To further worsen the case, Airbnb plan to go public later on this year, and the patent infringements are a risk factor which should be identified at their initial public offering (IPO). Unfortunately, this is highly likely to discourage many potential investors.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances of timing, Airbnb are keen to remain optimistic, insisting that the filed case ‘doesn’t have any merit’. With the four mentioned patents in place, it may seem to backfire to IBM, as they could be branded a ‘patent troll’. This terminology occurs when dominant companies make use of broad patents, with aims of acquiring license fees from less powerful companies and services. However, IBM strongly disagree with being branded that term and insist that they are simply aiming to protect their $5 billion per year investment into research and development. It is clear to see that the global technology company are simply aiming to preserve their innovation leadership, however it is likely they will receive backlash in the sense of patent trolling, if another legal battle pursues with similar to the mentioned, smaller companies.
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