October 23, 2006 8:09 AM PDT

IBM: Amazon violates our patents

IBM has targeted Amazon.com with two patent infringement lawsuits filed Monday, claiming that the online retail giant is willfully exploiting a number of its patents.

The patents deal with intellectual property issues ranging from advertising to hyperlink technology to electronic catalogs. Financial information concerning the magnitude of the damages was not disclosed.

"These are high-quality patents," said IBM spokesman Edward Barbini. "To not enforce our patent rights would be a discredit to those who fairly and lawfully use these licenses."

IBM filed its suits in Texas' eastern district, which is known for expedient patent infringement trials: It played host to some of Vonage's numerous legal battles and to a settlement last month between Nortel Networks and Ciena.

A statement from IBM asserts that the company had been attempting to resolve the patent issues with Amazon since September 2002.

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Chickens come home to roost. Cluck cluck cluck...
Well well well,
Amazon and Jeffy, well known advocate and agitator for software / business method patents, are now about to get a taste of their own medicine. Don't worry, investors, Amazon still has their infamously trivial one-click patent; THAT will protect your investment..hey...don't sell that stock!!

See what happens when you're forced to try to compete on something other than the quality of your product?

Just wait until Microsoft finds out you've been adding and deleting whitespace without their permission <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/policy/2005/09/16/patent-reform-bill.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/policy/2005/09/16/patent-reform-bill.html</a> Then you'll really be bending over to take it.

A lot of small innovative software developers live in constant terror of dirtbags like Bezeos (and IBM) using the Frankensteinian monster of software patents against them to keep themselves in Leer jets, private islands and trophy wives.

See what happens when you permit patents on every microscopic feature? Bill Gates sure does - from <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent_debate:" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent_debate:</a>

"A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors."

But why give the last word to some filthy economy-killer? I think the last word should go to an actual genius, Johnthan Swift:

"So nat'ralists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller fleas that bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum."
Posted by asdf (241 comments )
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one nitpick:
[i]"A lot of small innovative software developers live in constant terror of dirtbags like Bezeos (and IBM) using the Frankensteinian monster of software patents against them to keep themselves in Leer jets, private islands and trophy wives."[/i]

Umm, IBM has actually been very, very conservative about what they do with their patents in regards to lawsuits. In fact, they've practically given away and/or granted shiploads of patents for use in Open Source Projects.

To be fair, Microsoft has also been pretty good about keeping away from any thoughts of Patent-Trolling (mostly because they've been a victim of patent trolls for quite awhile now).

Most companies on IBM and Microsoft's scale usually don't bother suing over patent issues unless one of two things happen:

1) Some little lying litigious bastich (like McBride over at SCO ferinstance) decides to patent-troll the big company (in which case said lying bastich can then expect to be buried under a ton of patent violation counter-suits while at the same time having to face an army of lawyers to defend the original suit).

2) Some other big company makes noises about becoming a patent-troll, or does something really, really stupid (like Amazon did) - a retaliation option that I believe is called "Going Nuclear".

In either case, it's done defensively.

MSFT would have a [i]very[/i] hard time going after a little guy over patent issues w/o someone in a black robe thinking "monopolistic practice" and investigating it [i]very[/i] closely... a headache MSFT simply doesn't need.

IBM usually doesn't do it because they already have a ginormous number of patents (I'm talking millions of them here) in their vaults, and they aren't exactly hurting for business or money.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
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Not a Frivolous Lawsuit
We still aren't certain of the exact patents and number of them IBM's claiming Amazon infringed. That'll come out in the courtroom, if this goes to court. One thing I will guess based on what we already know about these two companies - IBM will see to it that Amazon gets what they deserve. Something that's long overdue. IBM NEVER enters lawsuits frivolously and the few times they've gone head-to-head with largecap tech company, IBM has consistently won judgements that far exceeded what anyone expected. I have a strong sense that Amazon has been doing some very naughty things bigtime for many years. One should never lose sight of the fact Jeff Bezos is not a tech geek. He's a seasoned investment banker.
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
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Your comment is factually in error
It is not true that IBM does not use its patent portfolio to intimidate, badger and extort fees from smaller competitors. The link provided here - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/0624/044.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/0624/044.html</a> -is to none other than Forbes magazine which detailed exactly the type of tactics IBM uses against smaller companies, in this case a young Sun Microsystems.

It is not true that IBM only uses its patent portfolio defensively- that is just what they would like for people to believe.

It is no coincidence that IBM, which sees SOA and services generally as the future of computing and its major future profit center, is electing to now going after Amazon, whose intensive use of datamining and the knowledge and best practices obtained therefrom positions them to expand laterally into other SOA markets.

IBM has literally tens of thousands of software patents; does anyone really believe that Amazon is "infringing" any more than say Google is "infringing"? Is IBM refraining from the using the tactic they used against Sun because Google is big enough to fight back?

The fact of the matter is that software patents turns everyone into an infringer, whether they know it or not. Software patents are bad law just because all software programs are simultaneously novel and derivative just in exactly the same way that spoken speech is. We call IP protection of speech "copyright", and it covers NOT the idea of the speech, only the specific words used. That's so we can all share ideas, improve them and, as a practical matter, not set off a revolution by attempting to deprive people from their natural right to think and speak freely. Software is exactly the same "kind" of thing. I dont' have any right to rip off your source code, but neither do you have any "right" to patent general ideas wholesale such as was doen with Amazon's "one click" or Adobe's "tabbed browsing" <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.macobserver.com/article/2000/08/11.5.shtml" target="_newWindow">http://www.macobserver.com/article/2000/08/11.5.shtml</a>
Posted by asdf (241 comments )
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Now we know- VERY VERY frivilous lawsuit
Now we know. IBM or "Big Red" as they're becoming known as, is up to its old tricks- demanding money for vague software patents. The reality of these patents can be found here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2035884,00.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2035884,00.asp</a>
and here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2036230,00.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2036230,00.asp</a>

Summary? IBM was using 18 year-old patents that are stunningly vague and general to try to strong arm 20 million out of Amazon.

When they're not helping Hitler gas Jews: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/</a>
they're trying to set up one-tech-party rule here in America. Is it time for Congress to simply revoke this sociopathic company's corporate charter for the good of the nation?

Do the world a favor- put your money elsewhere.
Posted by asdf (241 comments )
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