IBM Hits Amazon with Patent Suits

If any company is going to hold patents which cover fundamental aspects of online business, it’s likely to be IBM. Today, the Armonk, New York-based technology giant filed two patent infringement lawsuits against online retailer Amazon.com alleging the company is willfully infringing on a series of IBM patents covering key aspects of Amazon.com’s business model, including displaying advertisements, customizing links based on user actions, and ordering items using an electronic catalog. IBM is seeking unspecified damages.

“We filed this case for a very simple reason. IBM’s property is being knowingly and unfairly exploited,” said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM’s senior VP Technology and Intellectual Property, in a release. “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.”

The suits were filed in two eastern Texas district courts—venues chosen no doubt for their tendency to uphold the claims of patent holders. According to IBM, it has notified Amazon.com of the alleged infringement on numerous occasions dating back to September 2002, but Amazon.com has “shown no willingness to have meaningful discussions.” IBM alleges Amazon.com is infringing on the following U.S. patents:

  • 5,796,967 – Presenting Applications in an Interactive Service
  • 5,442,771 – Storing Data in an Interactive Network.
  • 7,072,849 – Presenting Advertising in an Interactive Service.
  • 5,446,891 – Adjusting Hypertext Links with Weighted User Goals and Activities.
  • 5,319,542 – Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog.

IBM has been keen on patents for decades, and holds more than 40,000 patents worldwide. According to the company, it has been awarded more U.S. patents than any other party for 13 consecutive years.

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