October 31, 2011 - Eight new patent lawsuits were filed against Amazon.com in early September - and the proximity of the filings was partly a result of the America Invents Act (AIA) and its "anti-joinder" provision.
One of the features of the AIA, signed into law by President Obama in September, was the "Joinder of parties" provision. It says that “accused infringers may not be joined in one action as defendants or counterclaim defendants, or have their actions consolidated for trial, based solely on allegations that they each have infringed the patent or patents in suit.”
That means that instead of bringing suit against Amazon and several other online retailers in a single complaint, patent owners are now required to file suit against each defendant individually. Congress designed the anti-joinder measure to reduce the number of lawsuits brought by "patent trolls," or non-practicing entities, which often sue several defendants at once for similar acts of infringement; filing several lawsuits individually is much more expensive than filing one suit against several defendants collectively.
The anti-joinder provision - along with many other changes ushered in by the AIA, though not all - took effect on September 16, prompting the filing of several lawsuits ahead of that date.
The new lawsuits bring the total number of ongoing patent suits against Amazon to 18.