Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Pesky Patent Problem for the Kindle

Discovery Communications has slapped Amazon with a lawsuit claiming that the Kindle violates a patent they filed nearly a decade ago, according to a story which appeared today on Ars Technica.

Discovery founder John S. Hendricks is named on the patent, which was filed on September 21, 1999 and anticipated many of the functions that would eventually appear on the Kindle. Titled "Electronic book security and copyright protection system," the patent's official date of issue shows November 20, 2007, a day after the original Kindle's debut.

Despite similarities ranging from wireless content delivery to page-turning buttons, bookmark options and what looks like a menu wheel, Discovery missed the mark on a few things in its prescient patent. A placemark pricelist in the patent shows full bookstore prices for all selections, plus different charges for method of delivery via cable ($2.95), phone ($4.95) or cellular ($8.95) on top of that. The "screen shots" also suggest touch screen technology and--gasp!--folders, an idea Amazon has steadfastly refused to implement despite the protestations of its Kindle customers.

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