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Beauty Tops Beast in Online Shopping Cart Appeal Case

Should a shopping-cart patent acquired from Open Market in 2003 hold true today, or is it merely part of a desperate attempt to extract money from everyone who shops online?

A previous court victory by Soverain Software over Victoria’s Secret and Avon regarding shopping cart software proved to be a short-lived one. An appeal by the lingerie and cosmetic brands found a receptive audience in a US District Court in Texas, who reversed the previous decision.

Previously, the USDC for the Eastern District of Texas found in favor of Soverain’s shopping cart claims. The Court decided that Victoria’s Secret and Avon violated five claims on two patents, with two of those claims related to the ‘314 patent for “Network sales system,” or more generally referred to as the “shopping cart patent.”

But in a later case, Soverain v Newegg, the same court decided the relevant claims, numbered 34 and 51, along with claims 17, 41, and 61 of the ‘492 patent (also for Network sales system) were invalid.

“We hold that issue preclusion applies as a result of the Newegg case, and that the asserted claims here are therefore invalid. Accordingly, we reverse,” the District Court said in its decision on February 12th.

Though the recent favorable decision impacted the two beauty-related brands, it is online electronics retailer Newegg that has had the longest running and most public feud with Soverain, which acquired the patents from Open Market in 2003.

Soverain sued Newegg in 2007 and won at trial. Subsequently the patents were found to be non-obvious by another trial jury as well as by the US Patent Office.

Favor began to swing in Newegg’s direction in 2013 as a decision that the patents were obvious came down from the Court, prompting Soverain to appeal to the Supreme Court. Newegg chief legal officer Lee Cheng said in December 2013, “Soverain’s Supreme Court petition is a desperate attempt to continue its lawsuit factory and extract even more money than it already has from every person who shops online.”

That January ruling had also benefited other companies that had been sued by Soverain, including eBay, Best Buy, and Macy’s, according to Bloomberg.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.