• October 16, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Blue Pumpkin Wins Patent Lawsuit

Blue Pumpkin is breathing a sigh of relief after a judge last Friday sided with the company in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by IEX. The victory marks a big win for Blue Pumpkin, as the lawsuit threatened the very core of its skills-based scheduling business. IEX filed the lawsuit in the summer of 2001, claiming Blue Pumpkin copied its skills-based scheduling technology (often used in call centers). Skills-based scheduling technology routes calls to the most appropriate person for support. The fundamental disagreement was around exactly how the schedule process worked, says Tiffany Riley, vice president of marketing at Blue Pumpkin. "We schedule based on each individual skill set to determine how good each employee is at each skill, as well as the priorities of how the skills should be deployed. IEX does it with what it calls skilled groups. IEX buckets people together that appear alike," Riley says. "IEX argued that Blue Pumpkin uses the same algorithm. We argued that we schedule based on the individual person's skill set." The court agreed with Blue Pumpkin and put an end to the two-year legal wrangling by dismissing IEX's case with prejudice, invalidating IEX's claims and deeming a trial unnecessary. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas last Friday stated that IEX's "objections and arguments have been skillfully presented, but they are not persuasive." This is not the first lawsuit of its kind filed against Blue Pumpkin. "This is just life in the big city. When you grow so fast and become a significant player in the market, people try to shoot arrows in any direction," says Doron Aspitz, chairman, CEO, and cofounder of Blue Pumpkin. Those close to the market are happy to put the verdict behind them. "The dismissal of this lawsuit should put an end to the uncertainty and doubt that has distracted the marketplace and hampered industry growth," said Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research, in a prepared statement. "That the industry can once again focus on business and product development and other issues important to the customer will be to everyone's benefit."
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