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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Amazon hit with $525 million jury verdict in patent case brought by Chicago tech firm

Amazon Delivery signage is displayed outside an Inc. delivery hub on July 12, 2022, in Torrance, California.  (Patrick T. Fallon/AGETTY IMAGES)
By Talia Soglin Chicago Tribune

Amazon Web Services must pay $525 million to Chicago-based tech company Kove for infringing upon three of the company’s patents, a federal jury decided Wednesday.

The patent case, which was heard in federal court in Chicago, centered around data-storage patents held by Kove.

The technology in question enables the search of “vast quantities of data in a very efficient way” to “find exactly what you’re looking for,” said Renato Mariotti, an attorney for Kove.

The jury found Amazon Web Services had infringed upon Kove’s patents, though it did not do so willfully.

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Duncan Neasham said the company disagreed with the verdict and intends to appeal. “We thank the jury, which also acknowledged that AWS did not willfully infringe on patents,” Neasham said.

In its original complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2018, Kove argued its technology “became essential” to Amazon Web Services “as the volume of data stored on its cloud grew exponentially and its cloud storage business faced limitations on the ability to store and retrieve massive amounts of data.”

Kove also filed suit against Google for allegedly infringing upon its patents in a case that is still ongoing in Illinois.

Kove’s CEO, John Overton, is the named co-inventor of the data storage patents along with Stephen Bailey. The two met while working on their PhDs at the University of Chicago.

In its 2018 complaint, Kove argued respect for its patents was “essential to fair competition.” The company is a “small, innovative product company competing in a field of behemoths,” Kove argued at the time.