IBM Sues Amazon for Patent Infringement

    October 23, 2006

International Business Machines Corp. has filed two separate lawsuits against Amazon, alleging that the Seattle-based company improperly derived its e-commerce functions from technologies patented by IBM as far back as the 1980’s.

Dr. John E. Kelly III, senior vice president of IBM Technology and Intellectual Property comments on the legal action in an IBM press release, “We filed this case for a very simple reason. IBM’s property is being knowingly and unfairly exploited.”

“IBM is one of the world’s leading creators of intellectual property and one of the most progressive in embracing new, highly collaborative ways of driving and managing innovation. Everything we do is premised on the fundamental principle that IBM’s intellectual property is one of our core assets, and represents the work product of tens of thousands of scientists and engineers and billions of dollars of investment.”

Kelly goes on to add, “When someone takes our property, without our permission through a license, we have no option but to protect it through every means available to us.”

Notable patents cited in the lawsuit include Storing Data in an Interactive Network, Presenting Advertising in an Interactive Service and Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalogue.

IBM claims it has contacted Amazon on numerous occasions since September 2002 regarding the alleged infringement, but Amazon has not shown motivation in pursuing any patent negotiations.

Amazon, founded in 1995, has achieved success for a number of years by offering an extensive online catalog of books, music, movies and other products to consumers as part of its virtual marketplace.

So, one has to wonder why IBM waited so long to file the lawsuit.

Could more of this type of legal posturing be on the horizon in the e-commerce landscape?

Earlier this month, Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons went public with plans to pursue copyright infringement complaints against YouTube, but only after the company’s much publicized acquisition by Google.

Perhaps IBM, like Time Warner, conveniently overlooked the patent infringement issues until Amazon began achieving financial success.

After all, it doesn’t pay to sue someone until they have something worth taking.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.