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Amazon Takes On New York Times In Book Dispute

The move by Amazon.com to reduce the price of New York Times Best Sellers by 50 percent last month may have been good for bookworms, but The New York Times Co. wasn't so pleased and has threatened legal action to stop the discount.

In a letter sent to the retailer, the Times contends that Amazon is infringing on its copyright and trademark by mentioning the list in its ads and promotions. It has a book-selling agreement with rival company barnesandnoble.com.

In response, Amazon.com filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Seattle this week seeking "declaratory relief" to allow it to continue referencing the list in its promotion and advertising.

Amazon argues that The New York Times Best Seller list is widely used in the book-selling industry as an indicator of the most popular books being bought nationwide. Book buyers, therefore, can use the list to make price comparisons on the bestselling books: If a book is on the list, it is guaranteed to be 50 percent off at Amazon.com.

The discount applies to hardcover and paperback titles in the Best Seller list's three generic categories: fiction, non-fiction, and miscellaneous.