UK Firm Files Patent Suit Against Major Web Retailers

 
 
By Daniel Drew Turner  |  Posted 2004-09-17
 
 
 
BTG plc, a London-based patent acquisition and licensing company, has filed suit in the U.S. Federal Court in Delaware against a number of UK- and U.S.-based corporations, including Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Netflix Inc. and Overstock.com. According to BTG, the company is asking for unspecified damages and an injunction against continuing use of its tracking technology.

In one charge listed in the suit, all four are accused of infringing on a patent owned by BTG for tracking visitors as they travel from one Web site to another. The suit also states that Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com infringed on another patent that attaches a navigational history to URL links between Web pages.

The patents, listed as United States Patent Numbers 5,717,860 and 5,712,979, respectively, were both filed on Sept. 20, 1995, and assigned to the Wayne, Pa.-based Infonautics Corp. BTG purchased the patents from Infonautics in 2002.

BTG, which claims to hold the rights to more than 3,500 patents, brought a claim against Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. and Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Computer Inc. in July, claiming infringement on a patent for updating software over the Internet.

BTGs annual revenues approached $90 million in the last financial year, but has seen its stock price fall drastically when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held up a BTG medical product, Varisolve, for more tests.

Spokespeople for Amazon.com and Netflix declined to comment; representatives for BarnesandNoble.com and Overstock.com did not return calls.

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