Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and AT&T found themselves traveling down different legal paths this week, as Amazon settled a lawsuit out of court while AT&T found itself arguing to overturn a court decision that would force it to open its cable lines to other Internet service providers.
The Seattle, Washington-based Amazon was on the defending end of a suit filed by the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Amazon Bookstore Cooperative. The suit charged Amazon with copyright infringement over the use of the name.
Today, the companies announced that they have settled the suit amicably. Amazon said that the Minneapolis bookstore — which was founded in 1970 and claims to be the oldest continuously operating women’s bookstore in the U.S. — will refer to itself by its full legal name.
The companies also said that the brick-and-mortar bookstore will assign its common law rights to the Amazon name to the online retailer and receive a license in return.
“This settlement allows an important independent bookstore that has been a part of the tradition of independent bookstores in the Twin Cities for the past 30 years to continue serving the local community and beyond using a name that is well known,” said Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.
The Minneapolis bookstore has yet to change its name on its Web page, where it is called the Amazon Bookstore and has a small banner saying that it should not be confused with thee-commerce mammoth. In addition to books, the store had been selling T-shirts and buttons for a legal defense fund to pay for the lawsuit.
The store also listed a summary of the suit, in which it accused Amazon’s lawyers of pressing for the sexual preference of the store’s owners in depositions filed in the case. The store’s lawyers filed motions asking to ban that line of questioning.
“While the lawsuit was at times difficult and both sides strongly advocated their positions, we do recognize and appreciate Amazon.com’s good faith and willingness to work with us in resolving it,” said Amazon Bookstore Cooperative President Barb Weiser.
Weiser went on to say that Amazon.com was a leader in the corporate world with regard to forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation and offering same sex benefits.
AT&T Presses Appeal
Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from AT&T’s lawyers earlier this week on why it should not have to abide by a Portland, Oregon decision that forces it to open its newly-acquired cable lines to AOL and other ISPs.
The telecommunications giant went to the Court of Appeals after a federal judge upheld the decision in June. AT&T argued that the federal Cable Act prevents local governments from imposing an open access requirement on cable providers.
Backers of the decision say that AT&T, which offers high-speed cable Internet access only through Excite@Home, will create an unfair playing field by only allowing Excite to use its cables and blocking out others.
In addition to its importance to the telecom and Internet industry, the issue is a crucial one for other jurisdictions in the country dealing with blazing-fast changes in the industry and the appeals court decision will be closely watched.