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Amazon Sues Barnesandnoble.com For Patent Infringement

By Rob Conlin
Oct 22, 1999 12:00 AM PT

Internet powerhouse Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) filed a lawsuit yesterday against barnesandnoble.com, claiming that its 1-Click technology patent has been infringed upon.

Amazon Sues Barnesandnoble.com For Patent Infringement

The suit was filed in a federal court in Seattle, Washington. Amazon is seeking an immediate court-ordered halt to barnesandnoble.com's alleged copycat feature, which allows returning customers to buy a product without repeatedly filling out personal information.

Barnesandnoble.com spokesman Gus Carlson told the E-Commerce Times that his company will deny Amazon's claims.

"We believe that the suit is completely without merit and will vigorously defend our position," Carlson said. He added that the company would likely make additional statements when the facts of the suit emerge.

Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement that his company developed the technology and should be allowed to solely benefit from it.

"Being a pioneer and innovating for customers is always hard," said Bezos. "We spent thousands of hours to develop our 1-Click process, and the reason we have a patent system in this country is to encourage people to take these kind of risks and make these kind of investments for customers."

Amazon said it received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for the 1-Click technology late last month.

Barnesandnoble.com Versus Amazon

This latest lawsuit tips the tables in the legal wrangles between the two companies. In October of 1997, the firms settled a suit filed by barnesandnoble.com against Amazon. Amazon also filed a counterclaim.

Carlson would not discuss the settlement, and Amazon was not available for comment Friday morning.

The two have been going toe-to-toe in the online book arena since Barnes and Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS) launched its online site in May 1997. Barnesandnoble.com raised $420 million (US$) in a May initial public offering and booked second-quarter sales of $39 million.

Media Metrix, a digital and Internet media measurement company, measured barnesandnoble.com as the fourth-busiest Web site this past June. The company sells 750,000 book titles and claims 2.2 million customers since its launch. It added music to the site this past July.

Additionally, barnesandnoble.com's parent company has 520 superstores across the U.S and an additional 489 B. Dalton Bookstores. It booked second quarter sales of $727 million, including the online operation.

Amazon.com is the undisputed e-commerce volume king. The company booked second quarter revenues of $314 million and a loss of $138 million. Amazon attributes the loss to heavy site promotion, investments and new product offerings.

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