March 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Discovery files a lawsuit against Amazon over the Kindle e-book reader

Discovery is asking for triple damages for Amazon’s alleged infringement of a patent related to the secure distribution of electronic books.

Amazon.com’s Kindle book reader, which the e-retailer has had trouble keeping in stock, is not only attracting the attention of consumers. It’s also been noticed by Discovery Communications Inc., which has filed suit claiming that Amazon.com Inc. has infringed on a patent Discovery holds for the secure distribution of electronic books.

Discovery, whose DiscoveryStore e-commerce site sells merchandise related to such television properties as the Discovery Network and Animal Planet, is seeking triple damages in the suit filed in federal court in Delaware.

“The Kindle and Kindle 2 are important and popular content delivery systems,” says Joseph A. LaSala Jr., general counsel of Discovery. “We believe they infringe our intellectual property rights, and that we are entitled to fair compensation.” Kindle 2 is the recently released updated version of the Kindle portable e-book reader.

The patent relates to methods for the secure distribution of electronic books to such portable reading devices and includes methods for protecting copyrighted material. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent in November 2007 to Discovery, citing Discovery’s chairman and founder, John S. Hendricks, as the lead inventor. The patent number is 7,298,851.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and Discovery is No. 183.

Larry Maye, liquidations manager at Amazon.com, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 15-18 in Boston, in a session entitled Merchandise returns-managing in tough times.

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