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VRE: Mobile ticketing dispute settled

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Two companies that vied for the right to create the Virginia Railway Express’ mobile ticketing service have settled a patent infringement lawsuit filed by the losing competitor.

The agreement between GlobeSherpa, which won the VRE contract, and Bytemark stipulates that the companies will “enter into a patent cross licensing agreement,” the companies said in a news release Friday.

The agreement also says that GlobeSherpa will license the Bytemark patent and agreed to bring on Bytemark as a subcontractor for the commuter rail fare system.

Last September, VRE awarded a $3.1 million contract to GlobeSherpa to design and administer the mobile ticketing system. The system will allow VRE passengers to download a free app so they can buy and validate their tickets by simply tapping on their smartphone screens.

Shortly after the contract was awarded, New York-based Bytemark filed a lawsuit in Alexandria’s U.S. District Court alleging patent infringement by GlobeSherpa.

In a protest letter to VRE, Bytemark’s Chief Executive Micah Bergdale wrote that the technology GlobeSherpa would provide was something “Bytemark has developed over many years and that we have both a current patent issued for along with patents pending that would further encompass the mobile ticketing solution that GlobeSherpa has tried to pass off as its own.”

GlobeSherpa officials contended that their company developed the software for the VRE system.

“We are happy to have resolved this dispute,” said Nat Parker, CEO of Portland, Ore.-based GlobeSherpa. “We believe moving past this litigation and developing a more collaborative relationship with Bytemark will benefit our transit customers and the industry at large.”

Bergdale also said he was glad to put the dispute behind them so they can work on the VRE project.

“This settlement enables continued innovation in the mobile ticketing industry, and we are excited to subcontract with GlobeSherpa to help deliver a world-class product to the Washington, D.C. area,” he said in the release.

VRE had planned to test the system by this month, with the full system running by September.

Those plans have been delayed, VRE spokesman Bryan Jungwirth said.

“We’re looking at next year sometime for implementation,” he said.


Those who want to see the concert and fireworks display in the nation’s capital this July 4 will have the option of taking a VRE train.

At Friday’s meeting, the Operations Board voted to run two trains to Washington on July 4.

One train will run on the Fredericksburg line and the other on the Manassas line. Each train will carry about 1,000 people.

Tickets will cost $10, which will allow VRE to break even, according to officials.

The Fredericksburg line train will originate from the Leeland Road station in Stafford County, with planned stops at Quantico, Woodbridge and Lorton.

The trains will arrive at Union Station between 5:30 and 6 p.m.

The tickets probably won’t be as popular as the Santa Train rides, but VRE officials say riders have shown a lot of interest in the July 4 train trips.

“We’re expecting them to sell out pretty quickly,” Jungwirth said.

He said the tickets will go on sale next month, but a date hasn’t been set.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436


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