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New Amazon Patent Cites Bezos Patent Reform 198

Posted by timothy
from the give-an-inch-they'll-charge-you-a-mile dept.
theodp writes "In seeking yet another patent related to 'single-action ordering of items,' Amazon asked the USPTO to consider a number of documents, including Doonesbury cartoons, which Amazon earlier claimed vindicated its 1-Click patent. Ironically, much of this material was collected and edited by BountyQuest, which reportedly received $1+ million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the name of patent reform. A USPTO examiner dutifully considered the material, and on Tuesday U.S. Patent No. 6,907,315 was issued to Amazon."
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New Amazon Patent Cites Bezos Patent Reform

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  • by nhnfreespirit (809462) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:19AM (#12821786) Journal
    I used to think that patents had something to do with inventing something new and non-trivial... Just shows how naive I've been...
    Today it seems, You can get a patent on anything that has not been explicitly described in a patent by someone else.
    • Trivial has nothing to do with it. The requirements that you are thinking of are NOVEL and NON-OBVIOUS. New and novel are similar, though technically not the same. However, non-trivial and non-obvious are very different in the legal sense. Something may be trivial, but non-obvious. For example, a hole punch is a pretty trivial thing to make. Its simply a cylinder that presses into a hole. But before the first hole punch was made, it was certainly not obvious to make a hole punch.
      • Oh I get it now. They issued patent 6,368,227 for swinging sideways on a swing by pulling alternately on the two chains because it was NOVEL and NON-OBVIOUS.
        • That patent got some good laughs around the office!!

          As an update, it appears that once news got out about that patent, the Commissioner of patents requested a re-examination and the patent was killed (all claims were cancelled). So, its pretty apparent that the initial examiner was a moron, but the system did eventually "work." This is really how the system is setup right now: getting a patent is easier than using a patent. What it generally leads to is craziness over some badly issued patents, but in th

          • I.e., if you can make them look foolish enough, and no money is riding on things, then a patent that should never have been granted will eventually get revoked.

            Pardon me if I don't see that as "the system works!".
      • The difference is that putting a hole in a piece of paper may have been obvious, but doing it with a one-handed contraption that includes a coiled spring and a metal punch head, such that when you squeeze the levers it punches a hole and then returns the levers to their original position was not ... and that's what you would have had to patent. "Method and system for putting a hole in a piece of paper using a metal punch" would not have cut it, and yet this is exactly the kind of patent they seem to be hand
      • I'm not sure that that's a correct statement to make about an old stone age invention. OTOH, perhaps, at the time, it wasn't obvious. I wasn't there. But I doubt that you were either.

        On what grounds do you call it non-obvious? Because the implementation in metal awaited the development of cheap, durable metals?

        Now the paper clip may be a fair example of a non-obvious invention (I haven't searched old records), but the hole punch clearly isn't.
        • In retrospect I agree that the example wasn't all that great. But it was meant to prove a point that I think was understood. I.E., non-obvious and non-trivial are not the same thing in the legal/patent office sense.
      • Hole punches aren't exactly trivial, and do/did require some amount of engineering to make them simple to use. It's still not particularly trivial to manufacture one.

        I'd say the paper clip is a better example of trivial but non-obvious.
  • Business value? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by madaxe42 (690151) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:20AM (#12821789) Homepage
    In all seriousness -

    a) how the hell to they hope to ever enforce this

    b) how can they prove the absence of prior art - people have been doing 'one click shopping' in a non digital fashion 'i'll take one of those jim, charge my account' for hundreds of years

    and c) where's the gain? You spend $1,000,000+ attempting to prove your IP rights over something, but, as a result of a and b, can't profit from it (you profit from the one-click system in itself, but not by restricting its use by others).

    I can understand patenting it, if they feel they have a prior art, and want to prevent others using it, but is it really worth the expense? Nobody is going to blow amazon out of the water any time soon...
    • how can they prove the absence of prior art

      They don't have to.

    • Am I the only person who thinks 1-click shopping is a bad idea anyway? I like to review my purchases, see how much postage their gunna charge me, see what my delivery options are before I commit to them.
      • Re:Business value? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by madaxe42 (690151) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:52AM (#12821860) Homepage
        I like to review my purchases, see how much postage their gunna charge me, see what my delivery options are before I commit to them.

        Exactly

        That's why one click shopping is great - not for you, for them. If they can circumvent you reviewing, checking, and considering, they're far more likely to get impulse sales, which equal $$$$$$$.
      • True, and also, who gives a toss if Amazon are the only people who do it? It's certainly pretty close to the bottom of my list of priorities when deciding whether or not to shop at a given website. In fact, it's probably not far away from 'CEO is a dick'.
    • Re:Business value? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:53AM (#12821864)
      b) how can they prove the absence of prior art

      They don't have to. If you think that you have prior art that invalidates the patent, you have to prove it. They'll most likely attempt to prove that your prior art isn't, but you don't have to try to disprove the existence of any prior art at all, that would be unworkable.
    • Re:Business value? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Strawser (22927)
      > c) where's the gain?

      I can only guess, but I would suppose they could try to make a profit by charging other e-commerce companies for using automated billing, or they want to try to sell the patent, or they want to wedge their way into being some kind of front end order processing provider for ecomerce shops.

      Then again, they did try to sue B&N dot com for using something similar, so maybe the whole plan is just to harass competitiors.
    • Re:Business value? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ManxStef (469602)
      What made me laugh out loud was the fact that the US Patent Office itself has an online ordering cart that seems (at least, from quickly reading the abstract) to fit the criteria of the patent they just granted to Amazon, and it's displayed on the very same page as the patent [uspto.gov]! (Indeed, you can use it to buy a paper copy of the patent.) So they may well owe Amazon some royalties. Oh, the irony! :)
    • I still have email copies of orders that I made online in 1998, (1/8/98 6:36 PM PST to be specific), from CDNow. The order was all point and click, from the client system (me) to the server system (CDnow) with had billing, shipping addresses, credit card information and items to be shipped. How is that any different than Amazon's patent?
  • Cookie patent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roarl (137495) * on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:21AM (#12821791)
    Seems to me they have just patented cookies. How can this not be obvious?
    • Seems to me they have just patented cookies.

      The problem is that the abstract and summary do not really count. It is the specific claims that do. The abstract is the same as their 1999 patent and the summary is about 95% the same. The claims on the otherhand are different.

      Either the patent office had a mix up, or they used the same application with slight mods...:)

      BWP
      • Actually, if you read the front page of the patent, it is a continuation of an application from Sept. 12, 1997. The applicant is not allowed to introduce new matter into a continuation application, so any changes cannot really be substantive. The continuation application allows them to try to obtain different claims from the same disclosure. As the parent poster pointed out, it is the claims which tell in legalese the patent protection that they get. The application is the description of the invention,
        • Actually, if you read the front page of the patent, it is a continuation of an application from Sept. 12, 1997.

          The patent I was talking about was also filed Sept 12, 1997, but it looks like it was orphaned for some reason. (It's patent number 5,960,411 and it's in the references). The abstract and summary are the same (or VERY near) for 5,960,411 and 6,615,226.

          BWP

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:24AM (#12821795)
    I'm glad to hear that Doonesbury is now considdered a reliable source for legal issues! I'll have to keep that in mind for my future research papers.
    • by Loonacy (459630)
      I think the point of the Doonesbury comic is: If a comic strip artist can think of one click shopping via a computer, then it's not very non-trivial, is it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:25AM (#12821801)
    Its worded vaguely enough to cover all eCommerce.

    Isn't there some sort of lawsuit you can bring against the patent office to force them to do their job?

    Also is there anyway to check on the sharedealings of patent reviewers? Forgive my suspiciousness but when patent reviewers are so determined to do their job badly, I wonder if they have an underlying motive.
    • Isn't there some sort of lawsuit you can bring against the patent office to force them to do their job?

      I heard of a procedure called "ballot". Time to use it for this purpose, perhaps? :)
      • I heard of a procedure called "ballot". Time to use it for this purpose, perhaps? :)

        okay.. and vote for who ? Obviously not a republican since they love the patent office. Vote for a democrat ? Based on their actions for the last 15 years they seem to be falling in love with psychotic american capitalism as well. Guess I'm stuck voting for Kucinich ? Great.
      • by kahei (466208) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @08:01AM (#12822050) Homepage
        Oh, a ballot.

        How, exactly, do you propose I use mine to push for patent reform? By voting for a Bush? For a Democrat? For a no-hoper with a thousand other perfectly worthy lost causes to think about?

        Perhaps if you figure out how you could patent the method -- there's no prior art that I can see. Failing that, wake the fuck up and smell the coffee.

    • Actually, this application is continuation (i. e. based strictly on the disclosure) of a previous application which issued as Patent No. 6,615,226 which was filed on 9/12/1997, wich in turn was filed as a Continuation in part of a third application which matured as Patent No. 5,715,399, filed 5/30/1995, which, yet in turn, was based on a fourth application, issued as 5,727,163, filed on 3/30/1995. A "continuation in part" is an application which adds additional disclosure to a previous application; any clai
  • by B2382F29 (742174) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:26AM (#12821803)
    A method and system for placing an order to purchase an item via the Internet. The order is placed by a purchaser at a client system and received by a server system. The server system receives purchaser information including identification of the purchaser, payment information, and shipment information from the client system. The server system then assigns a client identifier to the client system and associates the assigned client identifier with the received purchaser information. The server system sends to the client system the assigned client identifier and an HTML document identifying the item and including an order button. The client system receives and stores the assigned client identifier and receives and displays the HTML document. In response to the selection of the order button, the client system sends to the server system a request to purchase the identified item. The server system receives the request and combines the purchaser information associated with the client identifier of the client system to generate an order to purchase the item in accordance with the billing and shipment information whereby the purchaser effects the ordering of the product by selection of the order button.
    • Oh year? Well, my patent reads ...



      "The server system sends to the client system the assigned client identifier and an HTML,XML,PDF, or ASCII document or other document format known to the art identifying the item and including an order button."

      Guess someone owes me some big bucks.


    • by b0r0din (304712) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:42AM (#12821837)
      A method and system for getting a patent approved by which a patent submitter (client) spends millions of dollars paying off a company (lobbying firm) to present evidence, some in the form of a sardonic comic and/or controversial newspaper articles, in order to make a case for its highly regarded (retarded) patent. The client selects an appropriately vague paragraph to describe said patent, whereupon the patent office (monkeys flinging poo) receives the request and examines (flings poo at) biased information provided by the lobbying firm. The patent office generates a patent number and provides it to the client whereby some form of payment (bananas) are then provided by client to the patent office and/or politicians (con artists).
    • The Abstract is useless! Copy the claims!!!! If one, just one slashbot took the time to read the claims they would realize this is a patent on order consolidation. New and non-obviousness may be debated, but at least discuss the right material. Jesus F'ing Christ!

      1. A method in a computing system for processing item orders, comprising:

      receiving a plurality of orders, each order having a destination and one or more items;

      organizing the received orders into order groups, the orders of each order group all h

      • If one, just one slashbot took the time to read the claims they would realize this is a patent on order consolidation. New and non-obviousness may be debated, but at least discuss the right material.

        It's hard enough to get slashbots to RTFA, let alone the claims. I swear, what with the dupes and the slashbots, some days most of what is on /. could be written as a Perl script.

  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:33AM (#12821812) Homepage
    Honestly, how many people USE Amazon's 1-click ordering anyway?

    I order online nearly every day of my life and I double and triple check things to make sure they charge the right card, go to the right address, that it's what I want etc. and for this I insist on being able to get to a screen where I can double-check EVERYTHING and only then do I submit it.

    How many people are seriously logged into secure websites so often that it is just one click and they've ordered something?
    • Well, considering how well-accepted and popular Microsoft's Passport service became, I'd say not very many.
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mwongozi (176765)

      Honestly, how many people USE Amazon's 1-click ordering anyway?

      I do - in the iTunes Music Store, for which Apple have licensed the 1-click, er, "technology" from Amazon. For this specific use it's actually quite useful.

    • I do. Constantly. I used Amazon a lot before I was willing to start using it, but now I use it all the time.

      Patent arguments aside, it's set up pretty well. If you just *use* the 1 click stuff, the login persists. That means that while it can charge my card without further authorization, it can only do so if it's also sending the product to my registered mailing address. That means that it can be sent right back if ever something gets screwed up.

      To change mailing addresses, they DO prompt for a login con
      • It was used on me once. I checked my amazon account (recommendations I think) at a cybercafe once, and two weeks later that machine one-click-ordered a dozen explicit lyric rap cds for me. (Would it hurt amazon to put a "sign out" button on their website?)

        I had never enabled one-click ordering but Bezos had thoughtfully done that automatically. I immediately tried to cancel when amazon sent the confirming email but to no avail. So yeah, its just a mechanism for pissing you off.

        • Err, there is a logout link on most pages:

          (If you're not *****, click here.)

          Or, clear cookies.

          But really, there is nothing amazon.com (or any website) can do to protect your information on a public computer. How do you know there wasn't a keyboard logger installed? (At least in my experience, nearly every public terminal I have used, where I have bothered to check, has had at least two or three pieces of bot software on it)
      • How many members on Slashdot have their credit cards saved in a Paypal account? One quick authentication and money is moving all over the place.


        I don't even own a credit card, you insensitive clod!
    • Probably most people that buy something from the Itunes Music Store do it with one-click buying. You click on a buy it button and it downloads the song and starts playing. You're sent a statement later on. Apple licensed one-click from Amazon.
    • I insist on being able to get to a screen where I can double-check EVERYTHING and only then do I submit it.

      When you delete a file, do you also redisplay the listing to make sure that it's actually gone?

      Once I've used some tool enough to know that it works reliably, I stop feeling the need to double check it. If you already know that Amazon has the right address, and has the right credit card (because they were the same ones you used the last dozen times), and if you already know that they charge rea

      • When you delete a file, do you also redisplay the listing to make sure that it's actually gone?

        No, but I do make sure that I have file delete confirmations turned on so that I can be sure I don't delete files I want. Plus, if I delete a file, I can always recover it. When it's my credit card on the line, I ALWAYS double-check. I also check my credit card statements at the end of each month. Does that make me stupid?

        My brother once accidentally bid GBP999 for a item on eBay instead of GBP9.99 because
    • Honestly, how many people USE Amazon's 1-click ordering anyway?

      Not to be mean, but I can't believe this didn't get modded as a troll. I use 1-Click all the time on Amazon; why not? See, the trick is, you can set all the info up and double and triple check it all, and then never have to check again. That's the whole point, to give relief to people like you.

      As for the order itself... you have 90 minutes to add new things to a 1-Click order, or go in and check the order to make sure it's correct, or m

  • Weird application... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bovinewasteproduct (514128) <gclarkii.gbdispatch@com> on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:34AM (#12821815) Homepage
    From the claims, it covers just about ANY shopping cart that is intelligent enough to combine orders.
    And the abstract/summary, and the claims do not seem to match up. The abstract/summary talk about one-click and the claims talk about an intelligent order combining system. The abstract is the same as the 1999 patent by Hartman.

    There are plenty of backend systems that will combine orders. Does this only cover systems that do it all in the frontend?

    BWP
    • It's a continuation (Score:3, Informative)

      by balamw (552275) *
      This patent is a continuation of an earlier patent application, and as such, the ONLY thing they can change in the specification (including the abstract/summary) is the reference material. If they did need to change the spec they would have a continuation in part. A CIP also allows one to add inventors. They also used this since according to Delphion this application is a CIP or two even earlier applications. A decent description of these "related applications" can be found here: http://www.tms.org/pubs/jou [tms.org]
  • From the patent:

    "A method and system for placing an order to purchase an item via the Internet."

    OK, it's about e-commerce.

    "The order is placed by a purchaser at a client system and received by a server system."

    Client-server. Could be the web.

    "The server system receives purchaser information including identification of the purchaser, payment information, and shipment information from the client system."

    You have to tell the web-shop who you are etc.

    "The server system then assigns a clie

    • by bovinewasteproduct (514128) <gclarkii.gbdispatch@com> on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:44AM (#12821840) Homepage
      Ignore the abstract and the summary (they are either the same or very close to their 1999 patent).

      The claims are what matters and they do NOT match up with the abstract/summary. The claims talk about a system that will combine orders shipping to the same addresses from same customer.

      BWP
      • You say that the claims don't have much in common with the abstract/summary. Might be. But in my opinion, if the abstract/summary have nothing to do with the claims, the patent should be rejected on technical reasons.

        Patents are there so that others learn from what you did, and only in return for this, you are being granted a temporary monopoly on it. If you try to hide your innovation from others, why should you be given the reward for sharing it?

        And hiding it you are, if the abstract/summary don't ma

        • "And hiding it are you, if match not the claims and summary. Rejected for technical reasons is this, yes!"

          In any event, this is what happens when you have overworked, poorly trained examiners with no real motivation to be thorough reviewing applications cooked up by dishonest companies. Chalk another one up to Congress.
          • ...this is what happens when you have overworked, poorly trained examiners with no real motivation to be thorough reviewing applications...

            What, you want the examiners to do a thorough evaluation of my application and deny me an easy monopoly? You can't do that -- that's Big Goverment!

            (Note that granting me a monopoly based on a scammy patent isn't Big Government -- it's Law and Order.)

      • The claims talk about a system that will combine orders shipping to the same addresses from same customer.
        Oh good. I was worried it might be something obvious.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:55AM (#12821869) Homepage
    Method and system for displaying and editing of information

    Is the TITLE and a couple of beautiful lines from the patent.

    10. A method in a computing system for processing an item orders for shipment, comprising:

    receiving a first order having a first item and a second item;

    determining that the first item has an availability time similar to items in a second order, and that the second item has an availability time similar to items in a third order; and

    in response to the determination, adding the first item to the second order and adding the second item to the third order.

    11. A computing system for processing an item orders for shipment, comprising:

    an order receiver that receives a first order having a first item and a second item;

    an availability determination subsystem that determines that the first item has a time-to-inventory similar to items in a second order, and that the second item a time-to-inventory similar to items in a third order; and

    an item reallocation subsystem that adds the first item to the second order and adds the second item to the third order in response to the determination by the availability determination subsystem.

    12. A method in a computing system for combining item orders for shipment, comprising:

    among a set of orders, each order having a destination and one or more items, identifying mutually-exclusive groups of orders such that the orders of each group all have the same destination;

    for each group of orders whose items are all available for shipment:

    combining the orders of the group, and

    scheduling the combined orders of the group for shipment; and for each group of orders whose items are not all available for shipment:

    combining the orders of the group, and

    scheduling the combined orders of the group for shipment.


    Now I'm as ever confused by this. What is this beyond an HTML screen on the sort of package computer system made by folks like Manugistics, SAP, Oracle et al? To me what Amazon have just patented is SAPs ordering and reconciliation processes.... which certainly pre-date Amazon by a mile.

    US Patent Office.... its like Dilbert, but with more jokes.
  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @06:58AM (#12821874)
    The patent law requires any applicant to submit to the patent office all material information he/she has that may make the patent invalid. If that requirement is not complied with the patent may be invalidated even if it would have otherwise been valid.

    So in order to be safe patent lawyers (especially those with rich clients) submit everything that they can get their hands on which could possibly affect the validity of the patent. And because this particular patent was so often criticized, the attorneys decided to be safe and submit all the criticisms, because one of them may possibly have material information about a piece of prior art.

    So there is nothing especially nefarious about the fact that all these materials were submitted.

    I am still amazed that the patent was granted though.
  • The sad thing is that Amazon, and other companies who aggressively pursue patents like these, don't have to actually *enforce* them to walk away winners in this game. It seems to be all about creating a chilling effect on the competition, and on having seemingly-enforceable patents in your arsenal when confronted with a competitor so that you can use them as leverage against that company. It's not about the merits of the technology, it's about how many 'chits' you can collect just in case they turn out to b
  • Obviousness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @07:09AM (#12821901)
    Just a thought I had the other day for patent reform and to get rid of the horrors of 'one click shopping' patents. For every patent, there needs to be a clear statement of the problem that is solved. Although in invention one of the hardest parts is to identify the problem, the problem (i.e., problem area) is in itself not patentable. At least not officially.

    Then, the examiner invites 5 people skilled in the art that are unaffiliated to the patent seeker. They are confronted with the problem description and come up with a solution to tackle that particular problem. If some of the five come up with something substantially similar to the invention that the patent is sought for, the patent doesn't get granted due to obviousness. Even if the engineers don't come up with the actual answer but with alternative solutions there will be a win, as a legal circumvention of the patent will be on record.

    Such a system would have killed Bezos' original patent right of. Problem: "I want to be able to allow my customers to buy things with a single click". The patented solution would have been proposed by 5 out of 5 people skilled in the art. Similar questions as "I want to be able to stream live video to a computer", "I want to show a picture of the product I'm selling " will be shot down.

    One of the big dangers of software patents currently is locking out entire problem domains, by patenting the questions, not the answers. If the question contains the answer, it should not be patentable.

    Note that with this scheme the question "How does one exercise a cat" would most likely allow for this patent [freepatentsonline.com].

    • Actually, patents are supposed to be non-obvious solutions to problems (definition from this patent lawyer's IP FAQ [ipjur.com]):

      A patent is an exclusive right granted for a technical invention which, as required in most countries, offers a novel and non-obvious technical solution to a problem.

      So, at the company I work for, the patent commitee will accept submissions for most anything, but will filter out the crap that they know is not unique or interesting. And, patent reviewers at the USPTO are supposed to make
      • Re:Obviousness (Score:2, Informative)

        by Changer2002 (577488)
        The USPTO are supposed to make sure that things are "non-obvious" in light of prior art. The prior art is the problem. When Amazon first tried to patent the 1-click shopping method the patent office had an open interference meeting (basically asking anyone interest to show some prior art that would invalidate it) no one could. It doesn't matter if it seems obvious in hindsight, as long as it's not obvious based on prior art, it's ok.
        • Novelty and non-obviousness are two separate requirements that must be met for something to be patentable. IANAL, but prior art seems to relate to disproving novelty more than disproving non-obviousness.
    • Re:Obviousness (Score:3, Insightful)

      by torokun (148213)

      Unfortunately, that would not work, because as in the case of the one-click patent, sometimes the problem is the invention.

      In other words, what if no one else ever even thought there was a need to buy things with one click? Bezos or someone at Amazon thought about it and realized that this could be an advantage to them or to their customers, even though it's actually counterintuitive -- most people want confirmation screens, and most sites assume they want them.

      So just because the solution to a problem m
      • What I try to argue for is that the solution *is* the invention, while the question isn't. I know that asking the right question is often very creative, but it doesn't logically follow that questions should therefore be patentable.

        The fact that Bezos came up with an interesting question does not automatically make that question patentable. As far as I know this is the law, you get patents for solutions, copyrights for works and trademarks for names used in trade. No protection for questions.

        Imagine a

        • First, I'm a law student - this is not legal advice.

          Well, most of those things would be weeded out as obvious or old at this point anyway. But even under current law, a question or problem is not what's patentable. It's the product, process, etc. that's patentable.

          Of course, this all depends on how you define the problem and the invention.

          It is possible that a patent can cover all possible solutions of a problem if it's the first to identify the problem and provide a solution for it. This is because a
      • by Heisenbug (122836)
        Remember that a patent is not just a free reward for being so clever. It's a social contract: a voluntary limitation on all of our rights (e.g. my freedom to create a one-click checkout process) in exchange for a social benefit (e.g. the public revelation of a system for creating a one-click checkout process). If Jeff Bezos had been unable to prevent everyone else from creating one-click checkout processes, would it have made it economically impossible for him to implement them, or encouraged him to keep th
    • The basic issue then becomes "what is the question"?

      Asking "How do I let my customers buy with one click?" isn't the question, because by itself that's not a useful thing to do. That's just a statement of the solution in question form.

      The real questions are things like: "How to I get more impulse purchases?", "How to I make it easier for my customers to order stuff?", "How do I obfuscate how much the user is purchasing in order to trick them into ordering more?", and "How do I make my ordering system m

    • What would be better would be some form of patent jury. Select 12 people from the jury pool and treat the patent application kinda like a trial. If the applicant can convince 12 laymen, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the patent is non-obvious and innovative then they grant the application.

      Then you get some retarded 'one-click' patent and there better be a halluva case put on for it or the jury will just laugh at it. It would automatically make the application have to be clear, because what jury is goin
  • by rensci (889434) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @07:16AM (#12821919)
    ironically, much of this material was collected and edited by BountyQuest, which reportedly received $1+ million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the name of patent reform

    You have to ask yourself: why do you tell a company about prior art, and why do they ask about it?

    Presumably, the primary goal you have telling a company about prior art is to convince them not to file the patent, or at least make them look bad among the tech savvy. But companies don't give a damn about that sort of thing, so don't waste your breath.

    On the other hand, companies have a strong interest in hearing about prior art before filing the patent because when they include your prior art reference into their patent application, the patent becomes stronger. Rather than causing them to rethink their application, your reports of prior art to them are valuable background reseach that save companies lots of money in legal fees.

    So, just about the worst thing you can do is to tell a company about prior art for a patent application, because doing so will make the patent even harder to fight.

    What's a better strategy? Make sure as many people as possible know about the prior art, but only well after the patent has issued. Never contact the company filing the patent directly with prior art, even after it has issued--they have their lawyers, they should pay for their own prior art searches. And generally, it is probably also a good idea to wait with prior art discussions in public forums (like Slashdot) until after the patent has issued.

    As for Bezos and Bounty Quest, it is sleazy at best for Bezos to use Bounty Quest as a repository for prior art for his own patent filings even if he decided to do so after the fact. If Bounty Quest was set up with such uses in mind, it is deceptive and may be fraudulent. In any case, it seems to be just another example of big companies deceiving and abusing people who are interested in doing volunteer work for the common good.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I see there is a 'Add to cart' link at the top of the page describing the patent. I wonder whether the patent office paid royalties to Amazon to be able to offer on-line shopping? :-)

    Nico
  • The abstract is a little misleading, the patent covers logistics of delivering the orders based on whats in stock etc..

    Basically you and I thought that online ordering logistics was a field in itself, with many many companies specialising in it (both doing it and advising on it), and countless books on the subject, but no, apparently it was all in our minds and the subject was invented by Amazon in 2003.

    Strange since this search:

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=logistics+site%3 A amazon.com&prssweb= [yahoo.com]
  • by williamhooligan (892067) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @07:18AM (#12821925)
    United States Patent 6,907,316:

    Abstract

    Method and system for purchasing goods or services in the physical world. After construction of suitable 'premises' (Pat. 6,907,317 - a space altered by arranging materials for the purpose of creating a distinction between 'outside' and 'inside') a person enters the premises via the 'door' (Pat. 6,907,318 - a hole made in the materials of Pat. 6,907,317 to facilitate access to the 'inside' space) and is greeted by an 'employee' (Pat. 6,907,319 - a poor loser unable to to engage in any entrepreneurial activities due to the lack of unpatented processes left in the world and therefore forced to work for an evil overlord quicker off the mark to exploit the idiocy of the patent system). The customer selects goods or services for purchase, pays the 'employee' and exits through the 'door'. The funds are then used by the evil overlords to continue to pay high-priced lawyers in their ongoing effort to patent the 'patent process' (Pat. 6,907,320 - Pending).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I said at the time that the only purpose of BountyQuest was to distract people from the real issue.

    By getting everyone focussed on prior art, it caused people to skip over the real question, which was whether Amazon's "one-click" was a legitimate patent in the first place.

    The "one-click" patent should not be rejected on the basis of prior art.

    It should be rejected because it is _obvious_, i.e., not a patentable idea in the first place.
  • To not shop at Amazon. I haven't bought a thing from them since one-click, and just when I'm starting to think that maybe the time has come to move on, they do something like this. I am sufficiently repulsed by this that the thought of purchasing from Amazon again makes me queasie, my ethical stance is justified, and so I shop elsewhere. Thanks for clarifying, Jeff!
  • There was a time when many on slashdot boycotted them and suggested other online book retailers. Then people said that boycott was complete/successful and that people could use amazon again. But the fact of the matter is that they sued Barnes and Nobles over the one click patent and they have not stopped thier patent lawyers from patenting the normal development of e-comerce.
  • Sessions. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eluusive (642298)

    While I only read the abstract, this seemed to me to be a patent that does nothing but use cookie sessions in a "new" way. (I know other people already do this with cookies.) I could be wrong, but I thought that patents had to be a new invetion, or be a combination of multiple patentented invetions?

    This patent could be likened to patenting the use of a car to transport jellybeans instead of people.

  • included "claims" that covered:
    * employees in the warehouse walking to the bin that contains the object,
    * placing the object on the conveyer belt,
    * passing it by an RFID detector,
    * software that uses the RFID signal to add the object to the shipping invoice and,
    * prints the invoice and,
    * pastes it onto the box and,
    * seals the box and,
    * conveys it out to the trailer for shipping, and
    * the employee stacking in the trailer.

    After all, in your attempts to unlevel the playing field and block all competition, if
  • iTunes optionally uses 1-click shopping. So when's the court date, and can I get a seat? Amazon suing Apple for something so trivial should be amusing.
    • iTunes optionally uses 1-click shopping. So when's the court date, and can I get a seat? Amazon suing Apple for something so trivial should be amusing.

      The Apple Store [apple.com] uses Amazon's One-Click system under license [ecommercetimes.com], so my guess is that any use of one-click by Apple in the iTMS is covered by the terms of that licensing arrangement.

  • They should have issued Amazon U.S. Patent No. 6,293,874 [uspto.gov] instead.

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