January 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

IBM swings back at Amazon over patent infringement

The war of words continues in the patent disputes and counter lawsuits between IBM and Amazon.com.

The war of words continues in the patent disputes and counter lawsuits between IBM and Amazon.com.

On Monday IBM filed another round of court papers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas disputing Amazon’s counter claim. In December, Amazon claimed that IBM is trying to profit by forcing other companies to pay IBM unwarranted damages. In its countersuit, Amazon also denies any patent infringement, asks the court to invalidate some existing IBM patents and accuses IBM of illegally incorporating parts of Amazon’s personalization technology into WebSphere.

But in new court papers, IBM is demanding a jury trial and insists that it was devising e-commerce patents and technology long before Amazon.com was formed in the 1990s. “Years before Mr. Bezos first entered his Seattle garage, IBM through its Prodigy joint venture was providing subscribers with online shopping opportunities,” IBM says in its court papers. “The Prodigy system developed in the 1980s completely undercuts this assertion and IBM developments, technology and patents, moreover, predate much of the e-commerce technology allegedly claimed by the patents Amazon has asserted against IBM.”

The IBM court papers also note that Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, never complained about patent disputes during the course of four years of license negotiations. “IBM initiated license negotiations with Amazon in 2002 and IBM identified many IBM patents and provided detailed infringement explanations for several of those patents,” IBM says. “Amazon never identified a single patent to IBM negotiators. Given that three of the five patents Amazon asserted in its counterclaims issued before 2002, Amazon had ample opportunity to identify these patents during the past four years and never did.”

Amazon has yet to respond to IBM’s latest round of court papers and no significant court date has been set.

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