Mother Nature has it out for the Amazon.
Discovery Channel parent Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA ) (Nasdaq: DISCB ) is suing Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , claiming that its Kindle reader tramples on Discovery's patent for e-book security and copyright protection.
Discovery is hoping to be compensated financially for the infringement, along with receiving a continuing royalty stream if Amazon doesn't work its way around the patent.
The patent, coincidentally, was filed in the fall of 1999 but wasn't issued until November 20, 2007. Amazon's original Kindle hit the market the day before Discovery's patent was issued.
The media company that airs Dirty Jobs, Shark Week, and MythBusters isn't the type to throw legal fisticuffs. One could argue that Discovery's eco-friendly bent would prefer that Amazon distribute books digitally, beyond the juice-sucking charges and landfill considerations.
However, business is business, and if Amazon's Kindle -- and its recently released Kindle 2 -- are rightfully trampling on Discovery's intellectual property rights, it has every right to go after Amazon, and perhaps even Sony (NYSE: SNE ) .
I'm no legal eagle, so don't look for me to handicap Discovery's chances. All I know is that it's typically Amazon that is on the plaintiff end of patent disputes.
Whether it's Amazon with its one-click shopping, Rambus (Nasdaq: RMBS ) with its memory-related stronghold, or TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) with its time-shifting technology, pioneers with patents thrive on keeping their legal teams busy.
Mr. Market isn't too excited about Discovery's chances. Discovery issued a press release detailing its lawsuit in the middle of yesterday's trading day, and it barely moved the company's stock.
If the patent has legs, though, look out! Now that Amazon and Sony have made e-books fashionable after years of false starts elsewhere, there are juicy revenue streams waiting to be paddled.
Discovery has released enough Shark Week promos to know what happens when there's blood in the water.
Other page-turners in the Kindle saga: