Cendant sues Amazon over book recommendations

Cendant files suit, alleging that the online giant infringed its patent for offering product recommendations to customers.

Cendant Publishing has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com, alleging patent infringement.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., claims that the online giant infringed on Cendant's "370 patent" for providing people with recommendations of goods or services to purchase based on a database of previous purchasing histories of other customers. The suit was filed Oct. 29.

"Amazon's online marketplace uses numerous features which recommend other goods to potential customers based on prior customer purchasing history," the lawsuit states. "Amazon's recommendation features, (including) 'Customers who bought this book also bought' infringe one or more claims of the 370 patent."

A Cendant representative had no comment when reached Thursday. Amazon representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Although Cendant declined to comment, a source familiar with the suit said the company is "merely protecting its patent. Amazon has been afforded every opportunity to sign a license agreement with Cendant...but they have failed to do so."

In late August, the Patent and Trademark Office issued Cendant's patent, "System and Method for Providing Recommendation of Goods or Services Based on Recorded Purchasing History."

Cendant is asking the court for a jury trial and to prohibit Amazon from allegedly infringing on its patent.

Last year, a similar patent lawsuit was filed against Amazon. Pinpoint, which holds several e-commerce patents, sued Amazon for allegedly violating the company's personalization technology patents. One of the areas of the lawsuit involved an Amazon service that enabled retailers to recommend related products or new items to shoppers based on their Amazon purchase history.

Amazon has also been on the other side of patent infringement lawsuits. In 1999, the online retail giant filed a patent infringement suit against Barnesandnoble.com over its 1-Click technology.

Amazon's popular 1-Click service lets return customers avoid re-entering shipping and billing information.

Ironically, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who created a ruckus in the e-commerce industry for patenting a number of his site's technologies, called for patent reform in 2000. He advocated reducing the duration and number of patents a company could hold.

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