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Amazon, IBM settle patent lawsuit

Amazon.com will pay an undisclosed sum to Big Blue, ending disagreements over e-commerce patents that allegedly began in 2002.
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Written by Caroline McCarthy on
A long-running patent feud between Amazon.com and IBM finally ended Tuesday with a court settlement.

According to a statement from Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, Amazon will pay an undisclosed amount of money to Big Blue in the settlement, and the two companies have agreed to a long-term cross-licensing agreement over the patents in question.

IBM had originally filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Amazon in October in Texas' eastern district, claiming that IBM had been attempting to reach a resolution with the online retail giant since September 2002. The e-commerce patents in question ranged from hyperlink technology to electronic ordering.

In December, Amazon countersued, claiming that IBM's allegations had been "meritless and misleading."

Additionally, the countersuit claimed that IBM had infringed upon five Amazon patents, which covered technologies related to recommendation systems, search queries and "related product" identifications. IBM, which consistently is awarded the most patents out of any company in the U.S., was quick to dismiss those allegations.

Seattle-based Amazon, whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a vocal advocate of patent reform, has had numerous patent issues in the past. In 2005, the technology used in its 1-Click checkout system came under scrutiny as potentially infringing upon a similar product made by a small Virginia-based company called IPXL Holdings.

Meanwhile, the U.S. patent system itself is experiencing growing pains as Congress continues to explore the possibility of updating it to better serve the needs of the 21st-century business world.

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