10/28/11

A flurry of patents suits hits Amazon

Eight companies blitz the biggest online retailer with patent infringement suits in Q3.

Mark Brohan , Research Director

Amazon.com, the world’s biggest online retailer, was hit with a flurry of intellectual property and related technology lawsuits in the third quarter.

In its quarterly earnings report filed yesterday with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, revealed that the company is now battling 18 separate intellectual property lawsuits, including eight filed in September.

The latest round of intellectual property and technology litigation filed against Amazon includes:

Amazon isn’t talking publically about the latest round of technology infringement suits to hit the company other than to say in its public SEC documents that it “disputes the allegations of wrongdoing and intends to vigorously defend ourselves in these matters.”

But the latest roundup of lawsuits adds to the other 10 patent infringement complaints already lodged against Amazon.

Such a large number of patent infringement suits coming all at once is somewhat unusual, says Peter Brann, a partner with Lewiston, ME-based law firm Brann & Isaacson who has defended e-retailers against patent infringement claims. But the reason Amazon is dealing with a flurry of new lawsuits likely has to do with the passage of the America Invents Act, an overhaul of the patent system that went into effect Sept. 16, says Brann.

Under the new law companies filing infringement issues can no longer include numerous parties in a single complaint. Instead, each piece of litigation must now be filed separately. “You can’t just roll up and lump in anyone you want to like you could before,” says Brann. “Now each complaint must be entered into separately. The flurry of action against Amazon probably has to do with lawyers and companies trying to beat the Sept. 16 date for when the changes took effect.”

Despite the large number of technology infringement suits against Amazon, the biggest online retailer likely isn’t overly concerned with the volume, says Brann. “In reality these are more nuisance suits for them,” says Brann.

But infringement suits will continue to be a problem for online retailers of all sizes, says Brann. “It’s still easy to file litigation, and patent infringement remains a big issue for retailers,” he says.

Amazon.com was recognized as an innovative e-retailer on the 2011 Internet Retailer Hot 100 list.

Topics:

Alcatel-Lucent, Amazon.com, SEC, technology infringement, technology lawsuits, United States patent law

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