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Court Hands A Setback In Patent Dispute

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By Steven Bonisteel, Newsbytes

10 May 2002, 5:08 PM CST

A federal appeals court has largely reversed an early victory for Internet marketing company in a patent- infringement lawsuit over the electronic delivery of coupons to consumers.

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'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 print-your- own coupon Web site. SuperMarkets Online and Catalina are both tangled up in additional lawsuits involving and online coupons.

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 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'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, .

17:08 CST


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