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Kindle Fire hit by patent suit

Amazon's as yet unreleased Kindle Fire tablet has come under fire in a new patent lawsuit lodged in the US against the online retail giant.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Amazon's as yet unreleased Kindle Fire tablet has come under fire in a new patent lawsuit lodged in the US against the online retail giant.

Amazon's highly anticipated Kindle Fire, which was unveiled last month and won't be available until 15 November in the US, is being attacked by a suit from Smartphone Technologies, 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 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 US President Barack Obama recently signed the America Invests Act into law, shifting from the first-to-invent system to the first-to-file route.

The winds of patent change are also on the way through Australia, with the Federal Government's Advisory Council on Intellectual Property currently seeking submissions for a Review of the Innovation Patent System. Submissions close on 14 October.

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.

Luke Hopewell contributed to this report.

Via ZDNet US

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