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Discovery Accuses Amazon Of Patent Infringement In Kindle

The company, best known for the Discovery cable TV channel, is the latest organization unhappy with the Kindle.

Amazon's Kindle 2

Amazon's Kindle 2
(click for larger image)
Discovery Communications on Tuesday filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against, claiming the online retailer's Kindle reader violates Discovery's patent for electronic-book technology.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware claims that the original Kindle, as well as version 2 released in late February, infringes on technology developed by Discovery founder John S. Hendricks, who received a patent for the invention in November 2007. The technology provides a "secure, encrypted system for the selection, transmission, and sale of electronic books," Discovery said in a statement.

"The Kindle and Kindle 2 are important and popular content delivery systems," Discovery lawyer Joseph A. LaSala Jr. said. "We believe they infringe our intellectual property rights and that we are entitled to fair compensation."

Discovery, best known for its Discovery cable TV channel, is the latest organization unhappy with the Kindle. The Authors Guild complained that Amazon had added a text-to-speech capability in the Kindle 2 without agreeing to pay royalties for audible rights to writers and copyright holders.

While insisting the feature is legal, Amazon made the technical changes needed to let copyright holders on a title-by-title basis enable or disable the feature that reads the content to the user.

The Kindle has become one of the most popular consumer electronic devices on Amazon's Web site, proving there's a viable market for e-book readers. The Sony Reader is a major competitor. The Sony device is priced at $300 and the Kindle $358.

Hearst is reportedly planning to launch an electronic reader for viewing the publisher's newspapers and magazines. While details remain sketchy, the device is seen as an attempt to find a business model that can compete in an era of free content on the Internet, which has decimated ad revenue for many publications.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on rich Internet applications. Download the report here (registration required).

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