by By Michael J. Shapiro | May 01, 2010

Philadelphia-based StarCite, a provider of online meetings-management solutions, has been awarded a U.S. patent for its technology, entitled "System and Meth­od for Enterprise Event Marketing and Management Automation."

Whether the patent has any legal ramifications in the marketplace will be up to StarCite, said Jonathan T. Howe, Esq., a founding partner of the hospitality law firm Howe & Hutton in Chicago and M&C's legal expert.

"I look at this as a pure business, marketing-driven decision, as opposed to the lawyers looking to go out and get anyone that might be infringing," said Howe.

Indeed, StarCite is treating the patent as a competitive advantage. A spokesperson said it "underscores StarCite's leadership position with the best products...and a continuing drive for innovation."

Will StarCite be looking to charge other firms that offer automated attendee management processes with patent infringement? "In order to reach such a conclusion," said StarCite's spokesperson, "we would have to determine that a competitor's platform uses the same process that is described in our patent, and we have not engaged in that sort of analysis at this time."

A competing supplier, McLean, Va.-based Cvent, reviewed the patent in light of U.S. case law and other factors. "We are very confident StarCite has no valid claims against Cvent or Cvent's customers under this patent," the company said in a statement.