Lyft, Uber Sued For Infringing Driver-Matching Technology

Lyft and Uber were sued on Friday in the Western District of Texas for patent infringement relating to their respective websites and apps by allegedly using a patented method to connect drivers looking for opportunities with riders.

Plaintiff GreatGigz Solutions is the assigned owner of the following patents-in-suit: U.S. Patent Nos. 6,662,194 (the ’194 Patent); 7,490,086; 9,760,864; and 10,096,000.

The ’194 patent generally relates “to an apparatus and method for providing recruitment information, including a memory device for Storing [sic] information regarding at least one of a job opening, a position, an assignment, a contract, and a project…wherein the processing device generates a message containing information regarding at least one of a job opening, a position…wherein the message is responsive to the job search request, and a transmitter for transmitting the message to a communication device associated with an individual in real-time.” The other patents-in-suit relate to similar patented technology, including for obtaining a work schedule transmitted for one communication device to another.

The complaint alleges that Lyft and Uber directly and willfully infringe these patents through their website and apps, which include “servers, hardware, software, and a collection of related and/or linked web pages and Mobile Applications for providing job search and/or recruitment services to individuals.” These systems have “apparatuses with multiple interconnected infrastructures that infringe” the patents-in-suit. Both the websites and apps are public-facing.

For example, Lyft infringes on the ’194 patent because its website and app “provid[e] recruitment information and services to individuals…The apparatus comprises a memory device, a processing device, and a transmitter”; all of these are required components to the patent. Moreover, Lyft’s infringing instrumentalities “[maintain] and [store] in memory real-time data with respect to the location of available (and soon-to-be available) Independent Contractors (e.g., the drivers); the data includes at least information concerning the vehicle and present occupancy/capacity.” It also “maintains and stores in memory real-time data concerning the location and needs of the hiring entity or employer (e.g., the rider).” Riders and drivers are then paired through a processor. 

The plaintiff asserted that the ride request constitutes a job opening, position, assignment, etc. as stated in the patent. Lyft’s allegedly infringing instrumentalities also process relevant information and “[deliver] job notifications out to the Independent Contractors in order of priority until the opportunity is accepted.” GreatGigz said this includes transported messages which support its claim that Lyft has infringed this patent. Further allegations for the defendants’ infringement of the other patents use similar reasoning; Uber also has a system to collect and aggregate messages from Uber’s services.

GreatGigz, represented by Garteiser Honea, PLLC and The Mort Law Firm, PLLC, has sought a declaratory judgment that defendants infringed the patents-in-suit, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, an award for royalties, and other relief.