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Kindle 2
Discovery and Amazon will head to the court room to settle a patent lawsuit

Discovery Communications has filed a patent lawsuit against  regarding Amazon's extremely popular Kindle e-book reader.  The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, accusing Amazon of violating a patent Discovery registered in November 2007.

"The Kindle and Kindle 2 are important and popular content delivery systems," Discovery Communications general counsel Joseph LaSala Jr. said in a statement.  "We believe they infringe our intellectual property rights, and that we are entitled to fair compensation."

Discovery also said Amazon's infringement is "willful," and specified by saying the Discovery patent deals with the electronic book digital rights management.  Discovery and its founder "were significant players in the development of digital content and delivery services in the 1990s," according to the company in a statement.

Rather than try and have Amazon stop selling the latest Kindle, Discovery is seeking monetary compensation for past infringement and royalty compensation "for any future infringement".

Sony has its own e-book reader, but it's unknown if Discovery will also launch legal action against Sony any time in the future.  

Amazon recently launched the second edition of the Kindle e-book reader in February.  The device has two gigabytes of internal memory, which can store up to 1,500 books -- an impressive upgrade from the 200 electronic books the original Kindle can hold.  

It has been plagued by controversy from the launch, as several authors said the Kindle's new text-to-speech ability lets owners listen to the Kindle, but apparently royalties aren't paid to authors.

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Ah, Software Patents.
By DaveLessnau on 3/18/2009 9:19:28 AM , Rating: 2
I only glanced at the patent in question, but from what I can see, this appears to be a poster-child for software patent abuse. IANAL, but it looks like the patent covers the process of grabbing a file from somewhere, decrypting it, and displaying it. It might be something worth copyrighting. But, a patent? Not that I can see.

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By Spivonious on 3/18/2009 9:40:44 AM , Rating: 2
I read it in a little more detail, and it basically describes the Kindle, right down to using the telephone system to deliver purchased books.

It will be interesting to see how Amazon responds to this.

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By Spivonious on 3/18/2009 9:44:49 AM , Rating: 2
Also interesting is that the patent was filed in 1999, but not granted until 2007. Wasn't the Kindle already out by then?

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By omnicronx on 3/18/2009 12:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, which is why this will probably fall under the category of prior art.

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By Tiamat on 3/19/2009 5:20:20 AM , Rating: 2
Oh G**, 171 claims! No wonder it took that long to grant! No examiner would want that case! Plus, it looks like it is a CIP from many other patents, patent applications. Some of the claims could have a much earlier effective filing date. Although I didn't bother to search the patent family...

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By AlexWade on 3/18/2009 9:48:44 AM , Rating: 5
The question is, why did not this company sue when the original Kindle came out? There should be some statue of limitations for patent trolls. You should not be able to wait until a product becomes popular, then sue. You should only be able to sue within a short period of time of the product being released. (The judge should have some leeway to decide what amount of time is appropriate.) For businesses and corporations, there should be a "use it or lose it" clause in patents.

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By callmeroy on 3/18/2009 9:57:43 AM , Rating: 4
This practice you describe is extremely common, believe it or not -- to the point I think some companies view it as a "strategic" or "tactical" business decision.

Basically (at least in my view) its nothing short of exploiting the patent system for monetary gain....let's come up with a patent in 2009....with no intended to produce any tangible product based on that patent OURSELF, but since we predict this will be huge for someone else to do over the next few years -- let's keep quiet until they create the product and then we'll cry foul in the name of patent law and bilk them for millions.

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By Spivonious on 3/18/2009 10:48:46 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the patent wasn't approved until 2007, so I imagine they had to wait for that to sue Amazon. Add a couple of years to get all your case together, and you have the current situation.

I hate patent trolls, but Discovery is a big successful company (same one that does Discovery channel). I doubt they were just sitting on this waiting for someone else to make a similar device.

RE: Ah, Software Patents.
By tedrodai on 3/18/2009 11:17:53 AM , Rating: 3
Then, what I'd now ask is: Has Discovery created any such item during the 8 years they planned to take advantage of this technology? I don't know of one (maybe someone does?), so they're still feeling like a troll to me.

By FITCamaro on 3/18/2009 9:11:09 AM , Rating: 2
Another patent troll....

RE: Great
By Gzus666 on 3/18/2009 9:35:03 AM , Rating: 2
The patent office needs a boot up the ass for this kind of crap.

RE: Great
By AntiM on 3/18/2009 9:45:42 AM , Rating: 5
I don't know whether or not their claim is legitimate, but I'm also getting sick of all these patent infringement lawsuits. There seems to be at least one a day involving a major corporation.

After briefly looking at the patent application, it appears to me that Discovery might have a strong case.

However, I think I know how to fix the system....

Since Discovery is seeking monetary damages, then Discovery should be made to demonstrate how Amazon has affected Discovery's sale of their patented device. To my knowledge, Discovery hasn't sold any devices based on the patented technology, therefore they are entitled to $0.
Amazon's Kindle hasn't hurt Discovery's sales one bit.

That would fix these IP trolls. If you don't have a product based on your patent, how can you claim that you've been injured? How can you claim that you're losing money?

The patent system is supposed to encourage technological development, but now it's just hindering it.

RE: Great
By ET on 3/18/2009 11:16:00 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with the concept of having to prove a loss, though not with the specific point of needing a product on the market to claim that loss. I worked for a startup that closed because a large company announced a similar product. That was certainly a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

RE: Great
By ninus3d on 3/18/2009 3:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
Or if the patent is owned by a small company or individual looking for investment...

There was a time . . .
By Bateluer on 3/18/2009 9:36:38 AM , Rating: 2
when enterprising individuals came up with their own ideas rather than suing others. This boils down to a case of 'Me wants monies too!!'

I'm not a big fan of the Kindle or other e-book readers because of their DRM, but patent trolls need to be put down like a rabid dog.

RE: There was a time . . .
By ET on 3/18/2009 10:43:18 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it's Amazon who's used an idea that's already been filed as a patent, so I'm not sure what your point about original ideas is.

RE: There was a time . . .
By Bateluer on 3/18/2009 10:50:52 AM , Rating: 4
By a patent troll. Did Discovery ever market an e-book reader? Did they ever intend to design or market an e-book reader? No on both accounts. They filed a patent and then sat on it, waiting for another company to invest resources to develop and market one, then sue them. Litigation should not be a company's source of revenue.

Discovery confusion
By Donovan on 3/18/2009 11:57:46 AM , Rating: 2
So am I the only one who saw this right next to "Shuttle Discovery Docks With ISS" and wondered why NASA was suing Amazon?

RE: Discovery confusion
By DarkElfa on 3/18/2009 12:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
In my mind, this is little different to cybersquatting.

RE: Discovery confusion
By nafhan on 3/19/2009 10:19:01 AM , Rating: 2
Haha... I did the same thing. Except this is how I read it:
"Shuttle Discovery Docks With ISS"
"Discovery Hits Amazon..."

For a brief moment, I thought there had been another space shuttle disaster, but this time it crashed into northern Brazil instead of Texas.

Karmic Justice
By rcsinfo on 3/18/2009 9:20:44 PM , Rating: 3
Hey Jeff Bezos! I hope you learned something today. It kinda sucks when someone patents an obvious evolution of technology and then uses the patent to disrupt your business.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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