RealTime IT News

Amazon Wins First Round in 1-Click Battle

A federal district judge has granted leading online retailer Amazon.com a preliminary injunction protecting its patented 1-Click technology and barring online competitor barnesandnoble.com from copying it.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman's preliminary injunction issued late Wednesday bars barnesandnoble.com from using a copycat version of 1-Click technology while the lawsuit is pending.

Amazon.com (AMZN) filed suit Oct. 20, saying the defendant had illegally copied Amazon.com's patented 1-Click technology. The feature stores a user's credit card, address and other information so a returning customer doesn't have to enter it every time they buy a product. Amazon launched the feature in September 1997.

barnesandnoble.com (BNBN) issued a statement Thursday saying that although they were disappointed with the injunction, the company's order process technology was not infringing on Amazon.com's rights.

The company also swore to proceed with their launch of a new "Express Checkout" service within the next several days, which it claims is a significant improvement over the Express Lane process now in use. barnesandnoble.com had planned to introduce its new technology after the holiday season, but it says the court's decision has forced them to release the new service earlier.

"We do not intend to sit back and allow Amazon to stake a claim upon any technology that is widely used," the company said in a staement. "Allowing them to do so abridges our rights as a leader in e-commerce, but more importantly limits the choices of consumers. We consider the consumer -- not the retailer -- to be at the heart of e-commerce.

However, barnesandnoble.com's brimming confidence might not last for long.

Jeffrey R. Kuester, chairman of the American Bar Association special committee on patents and the Internet, said courts rarely throw out patent lawsuits, as barnesandnoble.com had requested. But it's equally rare for them to issue preliminary injunctions in patent disputes.

"The fact that a preliminary injunction is granted actually is a bigger deal than just that this thing is still living," said Kuester.

"It's now living with force -- because to get a preliminary injunction granted, the judge had to feel that Amazon had stated a claim, which not only had immediate irreparable harm to Amazon if something wasn't done, but that also that there was a lot discussed on the merits of the long term that it was likely Amazon would be able to prove their case."