Amazon wins first round in Barnesandnoble.com suit

In a preliminary injunction, a federal judge decides Amazon.com has a patent on its 1-Click purchasing technology and bars Barnesandnoble.com from using it while the suit is pending.

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A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction barring online bookseller Barnesandnoble.com from using technology that rival Amazon.com claims is patented.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman's preliminary injunction, issued late yesterday, bars New York-based Barnesandnoble.com from using its version of 1-Click technology, which allows online shoppers to purchase goods with a single mouse click, while a lawsuit over the issue is pending. Seattle-based Amazon.com filed a suit Oct. 20 claiming Barnesandnoble.com had illegally copied Amazon.com's 1-Click technology.

"The patent system is designed to encourage innovation," Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a statement. "Amazon.com spent thousands of hours developing the 1-Click shopping feature. We've always worked hard to be innovators."

First made available to Amazon.com customers in September 1997, the 1-Click feature stores billing and shipping information so that returning customers can purchase selected items by clicking their mouse once, without re-entering or re-confirming any information. The U.S. Patent Office awarded Patent No. 5,960,411 to Amazon.com on Sept. 28, 1999.

"The evidence indicates that Barnesandnoble.com can modify its 'Express Lane' feature with relative ease to avoid infringement. For instance, infringement can be avoided by simply requiring users to take additional action to confirm orders placed by Express Lane," judge Marsha J. Pechman stated in her ruling, a portion of which was obtained by CNET News.com.

"Moreover, in addition to 'Express Lane,' Barnesandnoble.com offers a multi-step 'shopping cart' ordering system, so it does not need single action ordering to keep its site running. Many other online retailers operate their businesses using multi-step ordering, and Barnesandnoble can as well."

Due to the court's decision, Barnesandnoble.com said it will accelerate the replacement of its "Express Lane" purchasing system, which Amazon claims infringes on its patents. Barnesandnoble.com said it will launch the new service, called "Express Checkout," in the next several days. The new service was originally planned for debut after the holiday season.

"Although we are disappointed with the judge's preliminary injunction, we believe our position regarding our order process technology will be upheld upon appeal," according to a statement issued by Barnesandnoble.com.

Amazon's suit against Barnesandnoble.com comes at a time when an increasing number of e-commerce companies are trying to defend their online positions by patenting not just their technologies but also their business plans.