ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 11-1396 (Fed. Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
A jury found that Lawson infringes ePlus’s method and system claims for “electronic sourcing,” which is similar to online shopping. The specification explains that electronic sourcing systems existed in prior art, but those older systems only enabled the user to generate a single purchase order that would be submitted to a single vendor. One important feature of the claimed invention is ability to divide a single requisition (or shopping list) into multiple purchase orders. The patented invention includes a computer that maintains a catalog database of items available from at least two vendors. Vendors may be manufacturers, distributors, or resellers. The user can search vendor catalogs for items that match certain criteria, contact vendors to determine whether a particular product is available, and switch between different catalogs to look at equivalent items. The customer then purchases the desired items. A customer adds the desired item to an “order list;” once the customer is ready to make a purchase, the system uses the order list to build a “requisition,” then determines what inventory will be used to complete the requisition and generates “purchase orders,” which are submitted to vendors. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, finding the system claims indefinite.