A mobile-technology company that lost its bid to provide electronic ticketing services to Virginia Railway Express has sued the winning bidder for alleged patent infringement and contends that VRE did not evaluate the competing proposals carefully enough before awarding the $3.2 million contract.
The plaintiff, New York-based Bytemark, which finished second among four bidders for the contract, alleges that the winning proposal, submitted by GlobeSherpa, of Portland, Ore., incorporates mobile technology that legally belongs to Bytemark.
Protesting the September contract award in a letter to VRE, Bytemark’s chief executive, Micah Bergdale, referred to “technology and solutions that Bytemark has developed over many years” and “that GlobeSherpa has tried to pass off as its own.”
Bytemark’s protest letter listed the patent issue among its “ten points of concern” about the contract award, but VRE’s chief executive, Doug Allen, rejected the complaints. Bytemark repeated the patent-infringement accusation in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against GlobeSherpa in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
GlobeSherpa, which says on its Web site that it was founded in 2010, has not filed a response to the lawsuit, and no one at the company replied to e-mail and phone messages Thursday afternoon seeking a comment on Bytemark’s allegation.
“GlobeSherpa provides a secure, mobile ticketing platform for transit systems interested in moving to open payments, open data and mobile fare collection” the Web site says, adding that the company’s “seasoned software engineers and project managers” are highly skilled at developing mobile applications for ticket buyers.
The dispute concerns a contract for providing a service allowing VRE customers to electronically buy fares for the commuter railroad and use their mobile devices to display proof of purchase to ticket-takers. Referring to GlobeSherpa’s multiyear, $3.2 million proposal, Bergdale wrote that his company’s offer was better for VRE.
“Using the criteria set forth in the [request for proposal], Bytemark’s bid was competitively priced” at $650,000 to $725,000 less than GlobeSherpa’s bid, Bergdale said in his protest letter. But Allen, the VRE chief, replied that cost was only one of several factors in the decision and that GlobeSherpa’s total proposal was superior to Bytemark’s.
Among his other complaints, Bergdale said that GlobeSherpa is far less experienced than Bytemark in developing mobile ticket applications; that GlobeSherpa’s proposal to VRE was misleading in several ways; and that GlobeSherpa “received an unfair competitive advantage . . . as a result of VRE inadvertently exposing the fact that Bytemark was the other sole competitor in the best-and-final offer phase.”
Unlike GlobeSherpa, Bergdale said, Bytemark did not know what company it was competing against until after the contract was awarded. In rejecting Bytemark’s protest, Allen denied that VRE disclosed the names of the companies vying for the contract.
As for the patent-infringement claim, Allen said that VRE “became aware of Bytemark’s allegations after GlobeSherpa was declared” the winner. “These unproven allegations do not change the evaluation of the proposals nor the award decision.”