The week is getting started with another fresh patent infringement lawsuit, and this time the source is a product that hasn't even been released yet.
Amazon's highly anticipated Kindle Fire, which was unveiled last week and won't be available until November 15th, is being attacked by a suit from Smartphone Technologies LLC, which is owned by Acacia Research Corporation, a known patent collector of sorts.
There are at least four points (along with a fifth one regarding the new Kindle Touch 3G) at question in this case, including:
- A patent covering the act of tapping an icon on the tablet's touch-sensitive display to perform an action
- A patent intended for Palm over displaying and manipulating multiple calendars on a PDA
Even if the second one was designated for Palm, both of these functions sound like commonplace features on tablets -- and mobile devices in general -- at this point. However, this is how patent collectors make money: buy up the patents before everyone else can and then charge an absurd amount -- or just plain sue someone else.
These sorts of tactics seem to be catching fire lately, leading for many analysts to think we're in the middle of a patent bubble.
There is patent reform on the way as President Obama recently signed the America Invests Act into law, shifting from the first-to-invent system to the first-to-file route.
Such actions will probably please the likes of Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who recently said at Dreamforce 2011 that he thought patents have been handed out too generally in the past and would like to see a more systematic approach to the approval process.
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