Patents are Discouraging High-tech Innovation

The stated purpose of patents are to encourage/reward innovation but they are doing exactly the opposite. The more Amazon innovates, the more they are sued in court. Instead of police and the courts punishing the patent-trolls, the innovators are being punished.

see The Inquirer – Amazon discloses the extent of its patent battles

They have had far too many patent suits recently:

  1. In August 2006, Cordance Corporation filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges that our website technology, including our 1-Click ordering system, infringes a patent obtained by Cordance purporting to cover an “Object-Based Online Transaction Infrastructure”
  2. In September 2009, Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges that our website technology and digital content distribution systems infringe six of Alcatel-Lucent’s patents
  3. In October 2009, Eolas Technologies Incorporated filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that our website technology infringes two patents owned by Eolas purporting to cover “Distributed Hypermedia Method for Automatically Invoking External Application Providing Interaction and Display of Embedded Objects within a Hypermedia Document” (U.S. Patent No. 5,838,906) and “Distributed Hypermedia Method and System for Automatically Invoking External Application Providing Interaction and Display of Embedded Objects within a Hypermedia Document” (U.S. Patent No. 7,599,985)
  4. In May 2010, Stragent, LLC and Seesaw Foundation filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that certain of our Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) technologies infringe a patent licensed by the plaintiffs purporting to cover a “Method of Providing Data Dictionary-Driven Web-Based Database Applications”
  5. In November 2010, Kelora Systems, LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The complaint alleges that our website infringes a patent owned by Kelora Systems purporting to cover a “Method and system for executing a guided parametric search” (U.S. Patent No. 6,275,821)
  6. In December 2010, Technology Innovations, LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Amazon’s sale of e-books and Kindle e-readers infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Device For Including Enhancing Information With Printed Information And Method For Electronic Searching Thereof” (U.S. Patent No. 5,517,407)
  7. In February 2011, SFA Systems, LLC, filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by using computer-implemented systems and methods for personalization Amazon and Zappos infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover an “Integrated Computerized Sales Force Automation System” (U.S. Patent No. 6,067,525)
  8. In March 2011, MasterObjects, Inc., filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by providing drop down “search suggestions” of increasing relevance as users type queries into our search box, Amazon infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “System and Method for Utilizing Asynchronous Client Server Communication Objects” (U.S. Patent No. 7,752,326)
  9. In April 2011, Walker Digital LLC filed six complaints against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaints allege that we infringe several of the plaintiff’s U.S. patents by, among other things, providing “cross benefits” to customers through our promotions,
  10. In September 2011, Parallel Iron, LLC, filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges, among other things, that certain AWS file storage systems that include a Hadoop Distributed File System infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover “Methods and Systems for a Storage System With a Program-Controlled Switch for Routing Data” (U.S. Patent No. 7,415,565)
  11. In September 2011, Lochner Technologies, LLC, filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by offering products used for desktop virtualization or cloud computing solutions that provide virtual desktop environments Amazon infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Modular Computer System” (U.S. Patent No. 7,035,598)
  12. In September 2011, Semiconductor Ideas to the Market BV filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by offering products including our Kindle e-reader that employ receiver technology designed to diminish signal leakage Amazon infringes two patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Receiver Comprising A Digitally Controlled Capacitor Bank” (U.S. Patent No. 7,299,018) and a “Communication Device” (U.S. Patent No. 7,072,614)
  13. In September 2011, Droplets, Inc. filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by offering web applications and software Amazon infringes two patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “System and Method for Delivering a Graphical User Interface of Remote Applications Over a Thin Client” (U.S. Patent No. 6,687,745) and a “System and Method for Delivering Remotely Stored Graphics and Information” (U.S. Patent No. 7,502,838)
  14. In September 2011, Execware, LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by rapidly formatting and reformatting tabular displays of records, such as product listings on our websites, Amazon infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover an “Integrated Dialog Box for Rapidly Altering Presentation of Parametric Text Data Objects on a Computer Display” (U.S. Patent No. 6,216,139)
  15. In September 2011, Select Retrieval, Inc. filed complaints against us and one of our subsidiaries for patent infringement in the United States District Courts for the District of Oregon and the District of Delaware. The complaints allege, among other things, that certain aspects of our websites’ technology infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover “Data Display Software with Actions and Links Integrated with Information” (U.S. Patent No. 6,128,617)
  16. In September 2011, LVL Patent Group, LLC filed three complaints against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaints allege, among other things, that certain aspects of our technology, including our mobile applications, infringe four patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Telephone/Transaction Entry Device and System for Entering Transaction Data into Databases” (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,805,676; 5,987,103; and 8,019,060) and a “Data Transaction Assembly Server” (U.S. Patent No. 6,044,382)
  17. In October 2011, Smartphone Technologies LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that certain aspects of our Kindle devices infringe five patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Power-Conserving Intuitive Device Discovery Technique In A Bluetooth Environment” (U.S. Patent No. 6,950,645); a “Handheld Computer System That Attempts To Establish An Alternative Network Link Upon Failing To Establish A Requested Network Link” (U.S. Patent No. 7,506,064); a “Method And Apparatus For Communicating Information Over Low Bandwidth Communications Networks” (U.S. Patent No. RE 40,459); a “Method For Controlling A Handheld Computer By Entering Commands Onto A Displayed Feature Of The Handheld Computer” (U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562); and a “System and Method For Displaying And Manipulating Multiple Calendars On A Personal Digital Assistant” (U.S. Patent No. 6,466,236)

The net result is “We cannot predict the impact (if any) that any of the matters described above or in our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K or Forms 10-Q for the Periods Ended March 31, 2011 and June 30, 2011, may have on our business, results of operations, financial position, or cash flows. Because of the inherent uncertainties of such matters, including the early stage and lack of specific damage claims in many of them, we cannot estimate the range of possible losses from them (except as otherwise indicated). “

How long will it take the USA and other countries to realize patents, lawyers and courts are part of the problem and not part of the solution? Any modern technology can infringe one or more patents for each of hundreds or thousands of features and patent holders have the right to tax or to bar importation. Why would anyone take the risk of doing months of development only to have all the profits taxed by patent-trolls? Fortunately for Amazon, the features being attacked are just the tip of its iceberg and they make tons of money related to products sold from A to Z so they can afford to hire an army of lawyers but most pure tech companies could not, especially the innovative startups. Wake up, people!

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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5 Responses to Patents are Discouraging High-tech Innovation

  1. Awesome article! Thank you!

  2. So you find it OK that Someone writes a programme and gets sued by Apple, M$, M$’s buddies? Creativity is punished by software patents.

  3. oldman says:

    “There will be a lot of hardship before it all goes away, but the handwriting is now on the wall and one day it will all go away.”

    So you would find it OK if some who creates cant get paid for their creation because someone can just copy it.

    Thats sad.

  4. Wahoo says:

    There is a watershed occurring in world society and this sort of patent litigation is just one facet of a much larger issue. The internet and personal technology developments have come to destroy the gatekeeper based economy of the past century.

    People can mostly make their own reservations for hotels, cars, airline tickets, cruise vacations, theater seats, and almost everything else that used to require a call to a travel agent or ticket agent. People can buy and sell stocks, bonds, options, and even currencies without contacting a broker. List your house on an internet site and you do not have to deal with a realtor.

    In short, a lot of people are not going to get the commission they once counted on simply by being connected to the right information pipeline. Groups like the RIAA have gone berserk trying to stem the tide and put the genie back into the bottle.

    There will be a lot of hardship before it all goes away, but the handwriting is now on the wall and one day it will all go away.

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