updated 10:50 pm EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Suit relates to location-sensitive shopper rewards
In the wake of the Google Wallet update announcement, Google has been sued in the Federal District Court of Delaware for allegedly violating a patent related to technology for "encouraging customer patronage by providing awards to customers." The patent was originally filed in September of 2005, and issued on November of 2007. The lawsuit plaintiff appears to be the inventor of the patent, Peter Sprogis, with no information filed with the patent about transfer or sale to another party.
The patent claims ownership of "an awards processing center that provides awards to one or more participant(s) in an awards program when said participant transmits the identifying information from said electronic data storage element to the awards processing center." The patent potentially includes contextually-sensitive coupons or reward points awarded to a shopper based on proximity of the customer's "electronic data storage elements" to a transponder.
A review of the Google Wallet service finds no direct award of a "merchandise coupon or redeemable points." In fact, the terms of service states that "You may earn reward points for purchases through your card issuer's credit or debit card rewards program (such as gas, grocery, and restaurants purchases, overall spending, and purchase protection or insurance), if applicable." In regards to rewards and benefits, Google passes the buck to the card issuer for determination "whether rewards points or other benefits apply to these purchases."