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Expedia Moves to Dismiss Priceline Patent Suit

Claiming that priceline.com Inc. may not own the patent it is fighting to protect, Microsoft's Expedia, Inc. travel service this week attempted to dismiss the lawsuit priceline filed against it in October.

Priceline (PCLN), which operates the patented "name-your-own-price" travel service, filed a lawsuit in October in federal court alleging that Expedia (EXPE) too closely resembles its system and accused Microsoft (MSFT) of stealing priceline's commerce system technology and related elements. It is seeking declaratory relief, permanent injunctive relief and actual and punitive damages.

The patent in question, #5,794,207, is also reportedly owned by Marketel International Inc., information priceline did not originally disclose, according to Microsoft. Because of that, Microsoft and Expedia moved to dismiss the case in light of "priceline's failure to join a legally indispensable party to the case."

"Considering that Marketel International claims ownership of the '207 patent, priceline's case against Expedia and Microsoft should be dismissed," said Byron Bishop, vice president of product development, Expedia Inc.

"Add to that other claims against the patent such as that of Aden Enterprises and it is clear that there are serious questions surrounding Priceline's lawsuit."

"We remain ready to show that priceline's claims are without merit and that the Expedia Price Matcher services do not infringe the '207 patent. However, before we can do that, the fundamental question of the ownership of the disputed patent needs to be resolved."

Marketel sued priceline over the priceline patent in January 1999, asserting an ownership interest.

Priceline could not be reached for comment.