Amazon’s Kindle Fire Burned with First Patent Suit

Amazon’s latest tablet, the Kindle Fire, won’t be available until November, but it has already become the target of a patent lawsuit.

Smartphone Technologies, owned by patent collecting and licensing firm Acacia Research Corporation, claimed that the Kindle Fire infringes four of its patents.  The suit comes several days after Amazon unveiled the $199, Android-powered tablet in late September.

The Kindle Fire isn’t even due to ship to consumers for another month, but already it has attracted its first patent suit, a rite of passage in the mobile sphere these days. Smartphone Technologies LLC has sued Amazon for patents regarding the operation of a touch screen device by tapping on icons; apparently that’s a real patent.

Smartphone Technologies LLC has already gone after Apple, Research in Motion and HTC for alleged patent infringement.  The company has all the markings of a patent troll, taking Amazon as its latest targeted prey.

Bloomberg says that some of the patents were originally granted to Palm Inc, which was bought by HP last year and which Amazon has, reportedly, been contemplating on buying.

The patents seem to cover activities that are crucial to normal smartphone use, such as tapping an icon:

According to the method, a graphical feature having a surface area is displayed on a touch-sensitive screen. ..To control software executing on the processor, a user-supplied writing on the surface area is received and the software is controlled responsive to the writing.

Amazon is expected to sell millions of Kindle Fires, so even a small licensing fee would be a huge payday for Acacia.  Its similar cases against Apple and others have so far not resulted in a settlement. We expect Amazon to keep this in the courts for the time being as well.