IBM sues Amazon over patents

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Software giant IBM Corp. is suing Amazon.com, alleging infringement of five IBM patents that are core to the online retailer's platform.

IBM claims that Amazon has illegally used its patents that cover 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 catalog.

"Amazon uses these important inventions to help run many aspects of their business," said Ari Fishkind, public affairs manager at IBM, White Plains, NY. "These patents include technology that help present applications, store data, present advertising, adjust hypertext links and order items."

IBM claims to have tried to negotiate a deal with Amazon, Seattle, during the past four years, contacting the company dozens of times to seek payment for using the patents. IBM claims Amazon refused every time. Amazon did not return calls for comment.

IBM said its two lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

This comes about three months after Amazon was sued by Toys "R" Us, Paramus, NJ, alleging breach of exclusive rights to supply specific toy products on the Amazon site. A New Jersey superior court judge in July ruled in Toys "R" Us' favor.

In 2004, Amazon.com successfully defended a claim that its 1-Click payment feature infringed on Virginia-based IXPL Holdings' electronic fund transfer or transaction system.

In August 2004, U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that four of the patent claims on which the suit was based were invalid due to the patents already being in the public domain, and that the fifth claim was invalid because it was indefinite. IPXL lost its U.S. circuit court appeal.

IBM licenses the technology in question to other companies, whose names it would not disclose. As a software licensee itself, IBM also faces patent claims.

"We don't often resort to litigation to encourage others to license our technology," Mr. Fishkind said. "But as a large company with many products, we are a periodic target of infringement lawsuits."

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