Discovery Communications has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com, alleging that the Kindle electronic book system infringes upon one of its patents.
The Kindle and Kindle 2 violate Discovery's Patent 7,298,851 for an "Electronic Book Security and Copyright Protection System," the company said in a press release. Discovery and its founder John S. Hendricks were "significant players" in the development of the technology in the 1990s and are credited with inventing a system that lets customers securely select and purchase electronic books.
"The Kindle and Kindle 2 are important and popular content delivery systems. We believe they infringe our intellectual property rights, and that we are entitled to fair compensation," said Discovery Communications General Counsel Joseph A. LaSala Jr. "Legal action is not something Discovery takes lightly. Our tradition as an inventive company has produced considerable intellectual property assets for our shareholders, and today's infringement litigation is part of our effort to protect and defend those assets."
Amazon's Kindle is a combination hardware and software platform that lets owners select, purchase and read books from Amazon.com via Sprint's EVDO wireless data network. Because of this, Kindle devices do not require any sort of PC interface or hotspot access to function. Two models are available, the original Kindle and the Kindle 2 with greater battery life, faster page refreshes, a text-to-speech option and other improvements, and Amazon also recently launched a Kindle for iPhone app.
No specific figures are mentioned in the suit but Discovery is after the usual litany of compensation including various damages, ongoing royalty payments, legal fees and whatever else the Court figures is fair game. Interestingly, while Hendricks filed for a patent on his work in 1999 it wasn't actually issued until November 20, 2007; the Kindle hit the market on November 19 of the same year. A full copy of the patent and the complaint is available from the Discovery Communications website. (PDF format)