IBM sues Amazon over patent issues

Online bookseller wasn't interested in settling out of court, Big Blue claims. By Juan Carlos Perez

IBM is taking Amazon.com to court, alleging patent infringement.

IBM has announced that it has taken out two lawsuits against Amazon, seeking unspecified damages. IBM says it spent four years attempting to clear up the matter before it decided to sue.

IBM alleges that Amazon is knowingly exploiting IBM’s intellectual property by infringing on several patents that cover, among other things, the presentation of applications in an interactive service, the storage of data in an interactive network, the presentation of advertising in an interactive service, and the ordering of items from an electronic catalogue.

IBM first notified Amazon about the alleged infringement in September 2002, but Amazon hasn’t wanted to engage in “meaningful discussions”, IBM alleges. Other companies license the patents in question, according to IBM.

Amazon declined to comment, saying that it had not yet received official notice of the suit.

The contested patents are at the heart of how Amazon operates, an IBM spokesman says. IBM doesn’t resort to lawsuits very often, so the decision to take this step reflects how seriously IBM takes this matter, he says.

“Rather than build its business on its own technologies Amazon has relied on IBM’s innovations, unlawfully taking and using them for its business,” IBM says in one of the complaints.

IBM is entitled to royalties on the billions of dollars in revenue that Amazon has generated through its “unlawful infringement” of the patents, one of the complaints states. IBM is also seeking an injunction to prevent Amazon from continuing with the alleged infringement.

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