Monday, November 28, 2011

Groupon's daily deals offer only a single price, and thus do not infringe a "plurality of customized price schedules" claim

I've written previously about the eWinWin v. Groupon patent infringement case pending in the Middle District. Essentially, eWinWin's patents (3 of them have been asserted) relate to volume pricing systems and methods in which the price of an item decreases as demand increases.  In other words, as the quantity of an item purchased increases, the price offered to all who have agreed to buy it decreases.  Exemplary of this system is Claim 1 from one of eWinWin's asserted patents (U.S. Patent No. 7,181,419):
A business transaction method, comprising:
     maintaining buyer profiles in a data storage device;
     deriving a plurality of customized price schedules for a product based on at least one buyer profile, each of the plurality of customized price schedules varying in accordance with a quantity of the product ordered from a plurality of deal rooms;
     electronically offering the product for sale in at least one of the plurality of deal rooms, the product being offered in each deal room in accordance with at least one of the plurality of price schedules; and
     displaying a listing of at least one of the plurality of deal rooms in which the product is offered when at least a subset of criteria indicated for a product search matches criteria describing the product.
The Court previously construed the underlined language to mean: 
creating two or more price schedules for a product based on information contained in at least one buyer's profile, each price schedule consisting of a list of two or more prices for the product that vary based on a quantity of the product ordered from two or more deal rooms.
Thus, to survive summary judgment, eWinWin had to offer evidence that Groupon's system created two or more price schedules for a product, and each price schedule had at least two prices.  

eWinWin looked to combine Groupon's daily deal with its Groupon Bucks to satisfy this limitation.  Groupon's daily deal provides a single discounted price for an item if a sufficient number of users sign up for the deal.  Groupon's Groupon Bucks provide users an incentive for referring new users to the Groupon system.  For instance, if you refer a user to Groupon, and that new user buys a Groupon deal, you may get 10 Groupon Bucks.  You could then use those Groupon Bucks to purchase a Groupon deal (including, perhaps, the same deal you referred your friend to).  eWinWin argued that this created 2 prices for the deal: the price your friend paid, and the price you paid (including the discount of your Groupon Bucks).  The Court was not convinced.  The price of the deal never changed -- only the method of payment did.  Furthermore, to the extent there was any price difference (which the Court concludes there was not), the difference was not related to an increase in the quantity of goods sold.  Had your friend purchased the deal without being referred by you, the same quantity of goods would have been sold, and you would have been charged the same amount as your friend.

Summary Judgment granted to Groupon on its non-infringement positions.  Only 1 claim remains -- Groupon's counterclaim that eWinWin infringes one of Groupon's patents.

eWinWin v. Groupon, slip op., Case No. 8:10-cv-2678 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 23, 2011) (J. Bucklew)


  1. Surely, eWinwin is no more than what was doing way back?!

  2. I'm not surprised at these silly claims! I've worked for ewinwin and Groupon most certainly can sue ewinwin for copying it's model too! haha! Most often, while developing the "ewinwin software", the team was asked to refer to how "groupon was doing it" and often told to "do how Groupon handles it".

  3. Greg Mesaros just wants to make money suing Groupon jus bcos ewinwin didnt turn out as successful as Groupon! Cheap tricks!

  4. Groupon offers deals at discount prices.When customers purchase a particular deal then the demand increases for that deal which results in the decrease of price.
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