Excentus Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Kroger

Says negotiations over fuel rewards program fail to reach long-term agreement

IRVING, Texas -- Excentus Corp. said that it has filed a lawsuit against The Kroger Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, alleging willful patent infringement involving fuel rewards programs. The lawsuit seeks injunctive and equitable relief along with unspecified damages.

"Kroger contacted us in October 2008 immediately following our acquisition of the AutoGas patents. They wanted to resume patent licensing discussions which had occurred with AutoGas prior to Excentus closing the transaction to purchase the AutoGas patents," said Dickson [image-nocss] Perry, president and CEO of Irving, Texas-based Excentus.

He added, "We were able to reach a mutual accord with Kroger last year related to our patents and obliged their request for a time to resolve future plans for the Kroger fuel rewards programs. The Kroger fuel rewards programs have varied from market to market. Since then, we have watched Kroger increase its fuel rewards marketing efforts, which included enhancements by Kroger in Safeway's markets. We believe these efforts were deliberate attempts to take advantage of our prior lawsuit against Safeway." (Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)"Further, Kroger has continued to enhance and expand its program by offering the capability to stack multiple fuel rewards together and by offering third party redemption. We felt like we had more than obliged Kroger's request for more time and recently asked that they reengage with us to enter into a long-term licensing agreement, but based on the reaction we received from Kroger, they left us no other choice but to seek court action to protect our interests," he said.

Brandon Logsdon, executive vice president and general manager of Excentus, added, "We have worked diligently with those interested in resolving past and future issues with our patents as evidenced by our recent agreement with Safeway and our agreements with others. We believe this is further validated by the outstanding working relationships we have with the major fuel marketers and grocery companies in our industryincluding those who participate in our successful fuelperks! rewards program."

Click hereto view acopy of the complaint filed against Kroger.

The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has 2,469 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two-dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. It also operates 773 convenience stores, 850 supermarket fuel centers and other businesses.Excentus is the provider of the fuelperks! rewards programa retail marketing coalition allowing grocers and a variety of other retailers the opportunity to utilize fuel discounts as the common reward currency for their customers. Additionally, Excentus licenses its patents and technology to its customers for the operation of their own fuel rewards program, and provides related support and marketing services. Excentus is the owner of eight U.S. patents and one foreign patent covering, among other things, fuel rewards. Excentus has a number of related patent applications pending.