October 28, 2011, 1:45 PM

A flurry of patents suits hits Amazon

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

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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:

  • Parallel Iron LLC filed a complaint in the U.S District Court for the District of Delaware for violation of a patent related to an Internet storage system for routing data.
  • Lochner Technologies filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for violation of a patent for a desktop virtualization and cloud computing application.
  • Semiconductor Ideas to the Market BV filed a lawsuit in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges that Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader violates a patent for avoiding the loss of signal strength on a mobile device and related wireless Internet connectivity issues.
  • Droplets Inc. filed litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that claims Amazon infringed on two patents for a system and method for delivering a graphical user interface of remote applications.
  • Execware LLC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware alleging infringement for rapidly formatting and reformatting tabular displays of records such as product listings.
  • Select Retrieval Inc. filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Courts for Oregon and Delaware for infringement of a patent for data display software with actions and links that are integrated with various types of data.
  • LVL Patent Group LLC filed multiple complaints in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware for infringement of four mobile Internet patents for a telephone and transaction entry device and a system for entering transaction data into a database.
  • Smartphone Technologies LLC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for multiple infringements of smartphone technology.
  • For an undisclosed amount, Amazon settled a two-year old suit with Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. over litigation related to Alcatel's web site technology and digital content distribution systems.

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.

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