A federal appeals court has largely reversed an early
victory for Internet marketing company Coolsavings.com in a patent-
infringement lawsuit over the electronic delivery of coupons to
The U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.,
ruled this week that a District Court judge in Chicago erred a year ago
when he ruled that Coolsavings.com's approach to online coupons couldn't
be compared to a 20-year-old patent for point-of-sale coupon kiosks
help by Catalina Marketing Corp. [NYSE:POS] of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Catalina, which receives the bulk of its nearly $450 million in
annual revenue through its presence in thousands of supermarkets,
also operates SuperMarkets Online and its Valupage.com print-your-
own coupon Web site. SuperMarkets Online and Catalina are both
tangled up in additional lawsuits involving Coolsavings.com and
In the case decided by the appeals court this week, Judge John
Darrah of the Northern District of Illinois had ruled in March of
2001 that Catalina'a patent 4,674,041 for delivering coupons
through terminals "at pre-designated sites such as consumer stores"
didn't describe Coolsavings.com method of serving up coupons from
its Web site.
In arguments appealing the ruling, lawyers for Catalina had asked
the court to view PCs connected to Coolsavings.com's Web site as
point-of-sale terminals, but the panel of three judges said they
didn't even have to consider that possibility.
Instead, they noted that the description of Catalina's technology
being located in "pre-designated sites such as consumer stores" was
not the meat of the invention and so didn't limit the possibility
that it could encompass variations on the same theme.
Catalina lawyer Steven Szczepanski told Newsbytes that the ruling
means the two side now will be back in District Court with the
possibility of a trial over the dispute.
Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .
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