FreeMarkets Cries Foul Over Patents

FreeMarkets filed patent infringement lawsuits against B2eMarkets, Procuri Inc. and Purchase Inc.

Online auctioneer and e-sourcing software maker FreeMarkets Inc. said in court documents earlier this week that its competitors are stealing its ideas.

FreeMarkets filed patent infringement lawsuits against B2eMarkets, Procuri Inc. and Purchase Inc. The suits, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, allege that B2eMarkets, Procuri and Purchase Pro are infringing on FreeMarkets patents by including in their product offerings certain functionalities that are patented by FreeMarkets.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, FreeMarkets has four patents on record. Those include two patents detailing methods and systems for controlling electronic auction during the transition to a closed state and controlling closing times of electronic auctions involving multiple lots.

A third patent is for the method and system for handling disruptions in the management of electronic auctions. The final patent is for controlling the initiation and duration of overtime intervals in electronic auctions.

Elaine Leim, vice president and general council for Pittsburg-based FreeMarkets, said in a press release that "FreeMarkets pioneered the e-sourcing industry and has patents that cover many important aspects of auction functionality. These patents, and all of our intellectual property, are valuable corporate assets and we intend to vigorously protect them."

Officials at Procuri, in Atlanta, said that based on their initial review of the complaint they do not believe their solutions infringe on any valid claims of the patents put forth by FreeMarkets.

Orville Bailey, CEO of B2eMarkets, of Rockville, Md., said in a press release that his company is consistently beating FreeMarkets at Fortune 100 accounts and "this is a feeble attempt by FreeMarkets to intimidate their most feared competitors, stall the competition and preserve their premium outsource fee structures and business model."

Purchase Pro did not issue a statement regarding the suit.