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Kindle Fire Hit With Patent Suit

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Amazon’s new tablet won’t be available until November 15, but it’s never too early to file a patent suit. Smartphone Technologies LLC, which has already gone after Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) and others, claims the Kindle Fire also infringes on four of its patents.

Smartphone Technologies used some of the same patents to file lawsuits last year against other big names in the industry. It is owned by Acacia Research Corp, a publicly traded firm that collects patents and then licenses them through dozens of subsidiaries.

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) announced the Kindle Fire two weeks ago. The device, priced at $199, is expected to sell millions and to emerge as a potential competitor to Apple’s iPad.

The patents in the new Amazon litigation appear to cover commonplace features used on many tablets and smartphones. U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562, for instance, seems to describe the act of tapping an icon in order to instruct the device to perform an action:

According to the method, a graphical feature having a surface area is displayed on a touch-sensitive screen. ..To control software executing on the processor, a user-supplied writing on the surface area is received and the software is controlled responsive to the writing.

Acacia says the Kindle Fire is also infringing on a patent issued to Palm (NYSE: HPQ) Inc in 2002 for a “System And Method For Displaying And Manipulating Multiple Calendars On A Personal Digital Assistant.” The court filing accuses the Kindle Fire of infringing on four patents and says the new “Kindle 3G + Wifi” infringes a fifth one.

A review of the lawsuits filed by Acacia in March and October of last year shows that Apple and the other defendants have so far refused to settle and are instead digging in for a drawn-out court battle.

Patent litigation has become a staple of the smartphone industry as entities like Acacia, often derided as patent trolls, collect patents in order to extract lucrative licensing settlements such as the $612 million that Research In Motion was forced to pay in 2005. Critics say that the software-related patents that form the basis of much of the litigation are of dubious merit and should be invalidated

11 Responses to “Kindle Fire Hit With Patent Suit”

  1. hey “Invent”, The issue here is that they own technically illegal patents.  The Patent offices don’t have the time or technical expertise to actually be able to allow legitimate patents.  What we are left with are trolls who got crafty in patenting an idea that for all intents and purposes is common sense without a single shred of inventive genius.  It’s akin to someone going out and patenting “A method of exchanging oxygen for carbon monoxide using biologically grown materials.” and then suing everyone in the world for breathing.  Saying “According to the method, a graphical feature having a surface area is
    displayed on a touch-sensitive screen. ..To control software executing
    on the processor, a user-supplied writing on the surface area is
    received and the software is controlled responsive to the writing.” is translated as “you can’t make buttons on touchscreens”  There used to be rules that kept this kind of thing in check.  I forget the exact wording but it boiled down to you couldn’t create a patent on something that would be obvious to a person reasonably experienced in the field to also create on their own with no prior knowledge of your requested patent.  Well since the Patent offices are ignorant of technology… and so are the courts… they aren;t qualified to make that distinction and defer to the patent holder.  Flash forward through the technological age and most patents are just people looking at existing technology and trying to figure out a way to patent someone else’ idea that wasn’t patented because the person who thought it up figured it was so painfully obvious it didn’t warrant patenting.  Abuse of the system, stifling of technology, inflation of development costs, and ultimately abuse of legitimate inventors and consumers, is the real issue.  Careful who you root for (har har)… You may have to pay for every click you make on the internet someday because someone owns the patent on “changing content viewed on a computer screen by means of a mechanical, optical, or other form of human interface.”

  2. The comments here deriding the plaintiffs are curious.  One the one hand, we see a US economy stalled and in need of innovation to revive it.  On the other hand we see criticism of the innovators who invent things and file patents on them.  Innovators are at the same time hailed as saviours and hated as scum.  

    • That’s the problem, this company doesn’t innovate ANYTHING!!!  Their whole business model is to buy as many patents as possible so they can sue the heck out of everybody.  These companies don’t even try to create products with their patents.  The only thing these companies produce is litigation.

  3. ohiseeyou

    IMO corporations are simply the victim of the idiotic patent system they helped create.  The only path to “real” reform is for the courts and companies to become so bogged down with litigation until there’s no choice but to fix it.