IBM Sues Amazon

IBM is the leading patent holder, spending more than 6 billion dollars a year on research and development, and pulls in royalties annually of over 1 billion dollars. Today, IBM has sued Amazon.com over some e-commerce patents it acquired in the 80′s, including “Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog”, while hundreds of other companies have licensed these patents from IBM, Amazon has refused to since 2002.

“Given that time frame, these are very fundamental inventions for e-commerce and how to do it on the network,” said John Kelly III, IBM’s senior vice president for intellectual property. “Much, if not all, of Amazon’s business is built on top of this property.” Source: AP at Yahoo

Just doing a quick search of the IBM site, I found this document that referenced a couple of e-commerce related patents from 1999.

US5926798: Method and apparatus for performing computer-based on-line commerce using an intelligent agent

Intelligent software agents perform e-commerce negotiations and transactions by committing services from multiple service providers and customers. This technology will play a major role in the future e-business. The intelligent agents consider both the availability of the requested service, such as arranging for a vacation, and the business policies of the service provider, for example the cancellation policy. The least severe cancellation policy is committed first while the most severe cancellation policy is committed last giving the user the greatest possible protection in making arrangements.

US5870717: System for ordering items over computer network using an electronic catalog

This patent is a good example of IBM?s leading technology for e-business. The e-business solution allows employees in a company directly processing orders for goods from another company by using catalogs and electronic purchasing methods. Users can by-pass both the normal paper approvals and the manual verification of the order by the organization?s purchasing department. It achieves this by means of an electronic catalog accessible from the employee?s own personal computer, and a computer network and associated services linking the company to multiple suppliers. Source: IBM Research

IBM did not specify the amount of damages it seeks, now would they return calls about this news.