You can develop a startling new technology, but can you defend it in the marketplace? This has been a particularly important question for developers of Web-based technology. In our industry, it was a real question for the original investors of IMX. According to a press release issued by the company today, that question -- at least for IMX -- has been answered.
A jury has awarded the Houston-based company $5,794,400 in damages after deciding that LendingTree LLC willfully infringed upon its intellectual property rights. IMX owns a patent that provides an Internet-accessible, interactive, real-time network whereby borrowers and lenders exchange information in the pursuit of securing a loan.
"We are very pleased with the verdict," said Michele Buschman, acting CEO of IMX. "We've maintained all along that LendingTree infringes this patent."
There is no mention of the decision on the LendingTree site, but the company does point out there that "LendingTree technology and processes are patented under US Patent Nos. 6,385,594 and 6,611,816. "
This case reminds us that lenders must take care to not only choose technology that works from companies they believe will be around long enough to support it, but they must also take care to ensure that the tools they invest in are actually owned by the vendors that offer them. This isn't an issue with LendingTree, as the firm is little more than a lead generation site for lenders. But when it comes to a decision between Web-based loan origination systems, these issues must be considered.