Discovery sues Amazon over Kindle

The lawsuit alleges that both versions of the Kindle infringe a patent created by Discovery's founder

Less than a month after delivering the second version of its Kindle ebook reader, Amazon has been hit with an intellectual property lawsuit from Discovery Communications, the company behind the Discovery Channel.

Discovery alleges that the Kindle infringes on a patent developed by Discovery founder John S. Hendricks for an electronic book security and copyright protection system. The patent was issued in 2007.

In the suit, Discovery accuses Amazon of infringing on the patent in both versions of the Kindle as well as in its services related to the device, including the sale of electronic books.

Amazon declined to comment on the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The Kindle 2 has already been involved in other legal tussles. Shortly after the device was announced, the Author's Guild told its members that Amazon might be undermining authors' rights to the audio market for their books. That's because the Kindle 2 has an audio feature that can read books aloud. Amazon has since let copyright holders opt out of enabling the feature for their books.

Amazon itself has threatened legal action related to the Kindle. It recently asked an online ebook forum to remove information about software that can help people load ebooks bought from sources other than Amazon onto their Kindles.

Amazon says the software runs foul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it circumvents digital rights management software, but forum moderators argued that the software doesn't alter DRM processes; rather, they said, it circumvents technology that restricts non-Amazon ebooks from being loaded onto the Kindle.

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Nancy Gohring

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