Amazon has run into more problems with its Kindle electronic book reader. This time, the company behind the Discovery Channel is claiming the technology violates one of their patents and has filed a lawsuit.
Nothing is worse than pursuing a highly anticipated product launch only to see said loss followed by legal issues. Amazon is going through this exact scenario. When it released its new, updated Kindle, it probably never imagined the problems it would have.
The first issue was the text-to-speech ability of the device. Authors went ballistic over it. They claimed the reading of the text was an attempt to get around paying royalties. The claim may be technically with merit, but it is also a bit ludicrous. Ask yourself this - how many people like listening to a book being read in a monotone voice? Amazon diffused the issue by agreeing to turn off the technology for books whose authors objected.
Now Amazon faces a much bigger issue. Discovery Communications, Inc. has filed a patent suit against the company for violating patents related to the technology used in the Kindle. The company is known to most people as the "Discovery Channel" found on television. Well, it appears that the founder of the company, John Hendricks, received a number of patents in 2007 that allegedly apply to the current situation.
So what exactly is the patent? It is not entirely clear yet. What we do know is it has to do with how ebooks are encrypted when distributed to electronic reading devices like the Kindle. This is, of course, a very hazy description of a very specific patent, so discussing the merits of the complaint is a bit premature. Still, Amazon has to be wondering what is coming down the line next - locust?
Does this mean the end of the new Kindle? It is possible, but extremely unlikely. Why? Discovery doesn't compete with Amazon and certainly doesn't seem to have any particular motivation for causing Amazon to have problems with the Kindle. If Discover doesn't want the Kindle put to bed, what could it want? You guessed it - money!
Many patent infringement lawsuits are not intended to stop one party from using something that might infringe on the patent of a second party. Usually, the goal is far more oriented to scoring a royalty that pays a consistent stream of money for a prolonged period of time. This happens throughout the field of intellectual property and is undoubtedly what Discovery is seeking here. Will they get it? Only time will tell.
Gerard Simington writes articles about intellectual property law and other legal subjects for FindAnAttorneyforMe.com
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