Amazon's Bezos: Patent suits 'might start to stifle innovation'

The Amazon chief executive says that governments might need to intervene to ensure that the onslaught of patent lawsuits doesn't hurt consumers.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. James Martin/CNET

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is growing concerned with the patent lawsuits simmering across the mobile industry.

Speaking to U.K. news outlet Metro in an interview published today, Bezos said that he's worried that the patent lawsuits "might start to stifle innovation." He also that suggested governments around the world consider intervening in the suits to protect consumers.

"Governments may need to look at the patent system and see if those laws need to be modified because I don't think some of these battles are healthy for society," Bezos told Metro.

The idea that patent lawsuits are hurting innovation is by no means new. Google has been saying for over a year now that it believes the lawsuits popping up in the mobile marketplace are actually stifling innovation. In August, for instance, Google's public policy director said that patents are supposed to spur innovation, not hurt it.

"One thing that we are very seriously taking a look at is the question of software patents, and whether in fact the patent system as it currently exists is the right system to incent innovation and really promote consumer-friendly policies," Google's Pablo Chavez said. He went on to tell attendees at a Technology Policy Institute conference "patent wars are not helpful to consumers."

Last year, Amazon was hit with a lawsuit from a company called Smartphone Technologies for allegedly violating patents in its Kindle Fire tablet. Other than that, Amazon has largely stayed above the lawsuit fray as companies like Apple, Samsung, and Motorola continue to launch lawsuits.

Still, Amazon is continuing to make its presence felt in a space that has become synonymous with lawsuits. After a successful run, the Kindle Fire was recently replaced with a new line of tablets, including the 8.9-inch, 4G LTE-equipped Kindle Fire HD. So far, those devices haven't been roped into lawsuits, but given the state of the mobile space, anything can happen.