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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Amazon.com Inc yesterday confirmed it has settled a two-year-old patent infringement lawsuit with Barnesandnoble.com LLC, though it declined to disclose the terms. The deal draws a line under what is probably the second-most controversial patent dispute after BT Group Plc's still unresolved claim on hyperlinking.

"Other than to say we're pleased to put this matter behind us, we have no comment on the BN.com settlement," said an Amazon spokesperson. The company would not disclose whether BN.com will pay license fees, a settlement lump sum, or whether it will use the technology that Amazon alleges infringes upon its 1-Click shopping patent.

Amazon sued BN.com in October 1999, claiming the firm used an e-commerce system that infringed upon its patent. The patent covered a system whereby a server remembered a customer's shipping and payment information, so they could make future purchases by simply clicking the "Buy" button.

Critics, which were legion, said One-Click was nothing but a rudimentary implementation of HTTP cookies, a web standard, and that Amazon should not be allowed to claim a patent.

The lawsuit caused quite a stir in developer circles, particularly in the open-source movement. The uproar ultimately caused Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to call for the updating of US patent law to account for the internet age - shortening the term of patents and organizing a central repository of "prior art".

In December 1999 the judge hearing the case enjoined BN.com on a preliminary basis from using its "Express Lane" feature, indicating that Amazon had a good chance of winning. The company quickly implemented a workaround that required two clicks.

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