Amazon’s Bezos says patent suits are getting out of hand

Consumers may be the biggest losers in patent wars, according to the head of giant shopping and e-commerce website, Amazon. Jeff Bezos told the U.K. media that patent lawsuits in mobile technology could “stifle innovation.”

Bezos suggested that government officials get more involved in patent disputes for consumers’ benefits and consider changing patent laws. The Amazon chief executive officer’s recommendations are not the first to surface about intellectual property battles. Google shares similar views about mobile technology legal disagreements. The company’s public policy director recently announced that the company believes innovation is suffering. Detailed recommendations were not forthcoming.

Software patent litigation is rampant among companies like Motorola and perennial rivals, Samsung and Apple. The financial and creative expenses end up with consumers.

Amazon has managed to avoid a constant barrage of patent lawsuits, unlike several other companies, although the e-commerce king was embroiled in a suit last year over patents involving the Kindle Fire tablet. Smartphone Technologies claimed Amazon was guilty of four patent violations. The case was settled quietly out of court.

Among the concerns of companies like Amazon are patent trolls, so-called businesses who accumulate patents without making or marketing them and then sue other companies for infringement.

Lawsuits can be devastating to startup companies, who are often credited with the most innovative ideas. Older, established technology firms are frequently armored by droves of intellectual property attorneys. Young companies operating on a relative shoestring can’t afford the legal protection the major technology players have. One legal challenge or a forced licensing agreement could sink a startup’s ship before it has the opportunity to sail.

The glut of lawsuits over mobile patents is so pervasive that Amazon may end up back in court against new accusers. A 4G update of the Kindle Fire recently was released. There have been no patent objections in court to date but, according to tech experts like Amazon’s Bezos, mobile intellectual property litigation is in a constant state of simmer.

Source: news.cnet.com, “Amazon’s Bezos: Patent suits ‘might start to stifle innovation’,” Don Reisinger, Oct. 16, 2012