Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Online Retail Companies like Amazon Sued for Patent Infringement by SFA Systems

Update 1: SFA systems has also sued Barnes & Noble,Gander Mountain Company, OverTon's Inc, and Newegg, Inc for the '341 patent.


Update 2: SFA systems has also sued BigMachines, Enterasys Networks, Ricoh Americas Corporation
and CareStream Health for the '341 patent.

August 01, 2011: SFA Systems (plaintiff), a Texas based company, having its principal place of business at 207 C North Washington Avenue, Marshall, Texas 75670, has sued online retail companies for patent infringement in the Texas Eastern District Court. The lawsuit has been filed against Amazon, Buy.com, DSW, Dollar Tree Stores, Meijer, New York & Company, Rite Aid Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Target Corporation, TigerDirect and Zappos.Com (defendants).

The patent-in-suit is US7941341 (the ‘341 patent), entitled “Sales force automation system and method”. The ‘341 patent was filed on March 27, 2009 and issued on May 10, 2011. This is the second lawsuit brought by SFA against the defendants. On Feb. 1, 2011, SFA had filed a complaint against the defendants alleging patent infringement of US6067525 (the ‘525 patent), entitled “Integrated computerized sales force automation system” in the Texas Eastern District Court. SFA has also been involved in two more lawsuits that revolved around the ‘525 patent, details of which are available here and here. Buether Joe & Carpenter LLC, which represented SFA system in the ‘525 patent lawsuit had reported that many parties had reached a settlement with SFA systems. However, the amount involved in the settlement was not disclosed.

The ‘341 patent and the ‘525 patent are from the same patent family. A comparison of independent claims of the ‘341 patent and the ‘525 patent reveals that both the patents have substantially the same claim matter and are similar in scope.

Claim 1 of the ‘341 patent:

An automated sales system for facilitating a sale of an item or service by intelligently integrating into a single system tools used by a salesperson in a sales process, the automated sales system comprising: a plurality of subsystems of a computer configured to electronically facilitate one or more actions performed during at least one phase of the sales process; and an event manager, electronically coupled to at least one subsystem of the plurality of subsystems, the event manager detecting one or more changes in information regarding an event occurring within the system and automatically initiating an operation in one or more particular subsystems of the computer to facilitate a new action based on the event, wherein at least one subsystem of the plurality of subsystems determines if the event has occurred previously in the sales process and updates another event or task in at least another subsystem of the plurality of subsystems if the operation is automatically initiated.”

Claim 1 of the ‘525 patent:

A computer implemented sales system used to facilitate a sales process, the system comprising:
a plurality of subsystems configured to facilitate one or more actions performed during at least one phase of the sales process; and
an event manager, coupled to the subsystems, the event manager
detecting one or more changes in state characteristic of an event occurring within the system,
inferring occurrence of the event and a context in which the event occurred based at least in part on the detected changes in state, and
automatically initiating an operation in one or more particular subsystems of the computer to facilitate a new action based on the inferred context.”

Based on the similarity of the claims in the two patents and considering the outcome of the last patent lawsuit, what do you think will be the likely outcome of the present lawsuit? Will the defendants settle for an out of court settlement or will there be any surprises?

3 comments:

  1. Nice Blog.. It's help to all.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. I like your post. It's nice information about sales force management.Thanks for sharing.

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