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Amazon.com Sues barnesandnoble.com Over Patent

The competition between Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com is moving into the courtroom.

Amazon.com late Thursday sued barnesandnoble.com, accusing the company of illegally duplicating its patented online shopping feature.

In the suit, filed late Thursday in a Seattle U.S. district court, Amazon (AMZN) claims that barnesandnoble.com (BNBN) has copied its 1-Click technology.

1-Click allows users to browse through the shopping site without requiring them to re-enter a separate shipping and billing section after each purchase, storing the personal information for an uninterrupted buying spree.

"Being a pioneer and innovating for customers is always hard," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and chief executive officer. "We spent thousands of hours to develop our 1-Click process, and the reason we have a patent system in this country is to encourage people to take these kinds of risks and make these kinds of investments for customers."

1-Click feature was added to Amazon in 1997, and the company won a patent for the technology last month.

Never shying away from a legal battle, Amazon has been involved in lawsuits with Walmart, a bricks-and-mortar bookstore by the same name, and an alleged cybersquatter in Greece.

The company could use to patent to pursue indirect competitors as well, according to Jeffrey R. Kuester, chair of the American Bar Association special committee on patents and the Internet, and partner at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley, L.L.P. in Atlanta.

"The patent looks like a fairly broad patent, one that Amazon is going be able to approach other folks just not related to book sales," said Kuester. "It makes more sense from a public perception standpoint at least for them to start with [their competitors] but there's no reason for [Amazon] not to go out and do that to protect their investment."