US: Airbnb is facing down a copyright infringement lawsuit from multinational technology company IBM [The International Business Machines Corporation].
IBM filed the suit in Delaware this past week, seeking to bar Airbnb from using technology it had patented, as well as to triple damages for past infringement.
The patents in question involve how web services can put ads on client machines, a practice that apparently originated with IBM’s pre-internet Prodigy service. This is the sixth time that IBM has attempted to negotiate with Airbnb, to no avail in the past.
The company is not alone in either the travel sphere or the startup world. Both Expedia Group and Groupon have faced lawsuits due to this, with the latter settling for $57 million while Expedia’s case is still ongoing.
In an IBM statement, the company said “enough is enough”.
The patents involved cover a wide variety of the site’s existing functions including advertising, navigation, reception and temporary data storage.
IBM currently has a cross-licensing agreement with many major online players, including Amazon and Apple, for certain patents. Licensing agreements produce over a billion dollars in revenue each year for IBM and demonstrate the importance of their patent division.
In a statement released yesterday, Airbnb reaffirmed its commitment to hosts in light of its cancellations.
Its founders, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, said: “While it’s clear to all of us that the coronavirus has deeply impacted our community, we know that this moment will pass and travel will be back.
“As people are starting to use Airbnb for long-term bookings and stays close-by, it’s clear that we need to be a part of helping all of us get through this as quickly as possible,” they added.