I was there the night Prodigy died. If you’d told me at the time that this obsolete technology would be the subject of a lawsuit a decade and a half later, I’d have broken out into guffaws, or at least snickers.
IBM has sued online deals marketplace Groupon for infringing four of its patents, including two that emerged from Prodigy, the online service launched by IBM and partners ahead of the World Wide Web.
Groupon has built its business model on the use of IBM’s patents, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. “Despite IBM’s repeated attempts to negotiate, Groupon refuses to take a license, but continues to use IBM’s property,” according to the computing giant, which is asking the court to order Groupon to halt further infringement and pay damages.
What the heck sort of Nineties-style code would even be relevant in 2016?
To develop the Prodigy online service that IBM launched with partners in the 1980s, the inventors of U.S. patents 5,796,967 and 7,072,849 developed new methods for presenting applications and advertisements in an interactive service that would take advantage of the computing power of each user’s PC and reduce demand on host servers, such as those used by Prodigy, IBM said in its complaint against Groupon.
“The inventors recognized that if applications were structured to be comprised of ‘objects’ of data and program code capable of being processed by a user’s PC, the Prodigy system would be more efficient than conventional systems,” it added.
Which system, of course, they abandoned in 1999, under the pretext of Y2K concerns.