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European Patent No. EP0929874B1

The IPM is aware of a patent that covers a specific use of codes in promotions which was issued to a company call SportFive (“the Patent Owner”) in 1997 (explained below).   

We have been monitoring the status of the patent for some time now (both in terms of its validity and any infringement claims brought by the Patent Owner) and believe that there is plenty of scope for code based promotions in the UK .[1]   

Action points 

  • At the IPM we have member service providers that are confident they have solutions which would mitigate any risk of action by the patent owner. Some have suggested that they are willing to indemnify their clients.  
  • If you are a service provider and have a proposed solution to the problem of the patent, we would invite you to submit the solution to the IPM so that we can share it with our members.  
  • We would also invite our members to have a look through their promotional archives for examples of code based promotions prior to 1997 which may be useful in any challenge to the validity of the patent.      

Patent details 

We understand there are 6 core features described in the SportsFive patent: 

1. A method of building up a data bank containing customer data, 

2. wherein products to be sold to customers or receipts handed out to customers upon purchase of products or services are each provided with a code 

3. and the code together with the data which characterises the respective customer is transmitted via a communication network, in particular via the, Internet or a telephone network, to a data-collection, station by the customer after the product or the service has been purchased 

4. characterised in that before purchase of the product or service, the code is stored without the involvement of the customer in a reference memory associated with the data-collection station  

5. in that after the code has been transmitted by the customer to the data- collection 20 station, this code transmitted by the customer is compared with the code stored beforehand in the reference memory 

6. and in that to organise a discount or coupon or reward system, the data-collection station only takes into consideration those transmitted codes, already stored beforehand in the reference memory     

Please contact us if have any questions: legal@theipm.org.uk / 020 7291 7730  

[1] Although the patent was first issued in 1997, we are not aware of any successful claims made by the Patent Owner for infringement of the patent despite the fact that there have been countless code promotions running in the UK for the last 15 years.