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Old 03-17-2009, 06:51 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Is the Amazon Kindle infringing patents?

Amazon is being sued by Discovery Communications, the parent company of the Discovery Channel, for infringing one of their patents, referred to as "Electronic book security and copyright protection system."

According to Ars Technica:

Quote:
The majority of the patent's claims involve encrypting and delivering e-book contents, focusing on the storage of keys and secure communications—much of it seems to anticipate the DRM schemes that would be popularized shortly thereafter with digital music distribution... [a]lthough the patent suggests one distribution model that fits well with Discovery's primary business (sending the books down an unused portion of a TV signal), its authors also made sure to cover their bases by including clauses that patented book distribution over the Internet and—bad news for Amazon here—on "a wireless telephone network."
There are more similarities described in the patent that could also be describing Amazon's current system in use for the Kindle. For instance, the patent describes "a portable book-shaped viewer" that "is used for secure viewing of the text" and goes on explaining how it can be used to receive a "created, transmitted list of titles of available electronic books."

You can view the patent in question over here. The complaint is also available online, over here (PDF).

Thanks to Mycropht and Treadstone71 for reporting to us the news!
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:53 PM   #2
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Oh the irony!!! You see, DRM is evil.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:55 PM   #3
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it is pretty ironic, isn't it.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:59 PM   #4
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Am I confused (haven't read the PDF yet) but doesn't this affect all ebook readers and retailers?
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:04 PM   #5
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Does this mean they have to change their DRM scheme? Or the way they deliver ebooks?
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:08 PM   #6
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This will never fly. Encryption and key management is a non-patentable obvious and widely used methodology.

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Old 03-17-2009, 07:09 PM   #7
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I don't understand patents nowadays. How can something so simple and obvious and so generic be patentable?
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:09 PM   #8
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When I first saw this, I noticed only the DRM stuff. However, the Ars article goes into more depth, and the DRM issues may be secondary. It looks like the patent also covers Whispernet and buying content from the device.

Mostly, though, I did think it was an interesting coincidence that this came out so soon after the kindlepid.py issue.
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treadstone71 View Post
It looks like the patent also covers Whispernet and buying content from the device.
But that is still obvious... are they, did they file against Apple?

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Old 03-17-2009, 07:30 PM   #10
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This is what is shown as a typical hardware ebook reader back when the patent was first filed (in 1999, I believe).

A bit on the thick side!

For comparison, I give you my ebook reader, as filed with it's patent in 1998!
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Last edited by nrapallo; 03-17-2009 at 08:47 PM. Reason: took out the transparancy in the 1999_ebook_reader.gif
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Berk View Post
I don't understand patents nowadays. How can something so simple and obvious and so generic be patentable?
I seem to remember a few years ago patents were being issued for tax-planning methods. And that taxpayers would be required to pay royalties to use the tax strategies covered by the patent.

I think congress subsequently changed the rules concerning tax planning patents.

So I guess a patent for a ebook delivery system is not so far fetched.
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:32 PM   #12
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This is actually funny considering the whole 1-Click patent. Did that actually stand? I don't recall.

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Old 03-17-2009, 07:46 PM   #13
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But that is still obvious... are they, did they file against Apple?

BOb
Good point; I forgot about the App Store. It will get even more interesting with iPhone 3.0, which will allow purchases from within applications, such as Kindle for iPhone.
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:49 PM   #14
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Am I confused (haven't read the PDF yet) but doesn't this affect all ebook readers and retailers?
Not yet, Daffy. The heart of the patent has to do with using wireless service to deliver content, not with the ebook device per se. Right now, in the U.S. that means Amazon.
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treadstone71 View Post
Mostly, though, I did think it was an interesting coincidence that this came out so soon after the kindlepid.py issue.
More interesting is that the patent was granted at the same time (or within a month thereof) as K1 was released. Had Amazon done its due diligence, it should have seen the pending patent applications as well as the older patents issued that are involved.
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