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Amazon Slaps Orbitz and Avis With Patent Lawsuit 140

Posted by Zonk
from the owch! dept.
theodp writes "Amazon has sued Cendant for allegedly infringing four patents covering electronic commerce at its Orbitz, Avis and other Web sites. Cendant, the biggest U.S. provider of travel and real-estate services, knew 'or should have known' it infringed when using the tools to secure credit-card transactions, handle customer referrals and manage data, according to the lawsuit filed June 22 in federal court in Seattle. Amazon itself was sued by Cendant last year for patent infringement over its recommendation technology. So much for five years of Amazon patent reform."
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Amazon Slaps Orbitz and Avis With Patent Lawsuit

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  • The very first line in the article you quote says, " Bezos said the company would not stop the use or enforcement of its patents."

    So, how is it news that they're doing exactly that?
    • It is news because you didn't take the time to read the second (and subsequent) line(s).

      But he called for lawmakers and industry leaders to examine the issue of software and business-method patents and to work toward limiting the number issued and their duration.

      ...

      "But I do think we can help. As a company with some high-profile software patents, we're in a credible position to call for meaningful (perhaps even radical) patent reform,"

      ...

      In his letter, Bezos called for software and business-

  • Defensive lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robla (4860) * on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:42PM (#13083484) Homepage Journal
    My first thought was that this seems like a classic case of defensive patent action, and is fair game in my book. Cendant was the company that fired first when they hauled Amazon into court, so it's only fair that Amazon return the favor.

    However, it appears that Cendent withdrew its lawsuit in February [nwsource.com], so I'm not sure what to make of it. I suppose that if someone draws a gun on you, and then says, "heh heh...just kidding", you wouldn't necessarily be inclined to stop reaching for your own gun. So I can't say that I can muster a lot of pity for Cendant.

    Cendant essentially forced Amazon to look in their patent portfolio to find what they could nail Cendant to the wall with. After having done all of the expensive homework, it seems that Amazon needed to at least recoup those costs.

    Rob
    • Re:Defensive lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:53PM (#13083550)
      I can't seem to scrape together a lot of pity for Cendant here, either. Cendant's patent is for "System and Method for Providing Recommendation of Goods or Services Based on Recorded Purchasing History." Doesn't anyone remember FireFly circa 1996 and subsequently bought and murdered by Microsoft? The entire point of FireFly was to recommend stuff based on how well you liked or disliked records. In fact, it's possible that Cendant's technology shares a common ancestor with FireFly's: Chris Bergh, a technologist at FireFly and NetMarket.

      As far as I am concerned, Cendant drew its sword and now they cannot avoid battle. Tough shit for them.

    • by yog (19073) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:54PM (#13083552) Homepage Journal
      Another silver lining to this new lawsuit is that it will put Amazon's patents to the test. If they are found to be invalid, this will be a good thing, no matter how evil Cendant may be.

      The online commerce patent situation is long overdue for a shakeout. We have to get rid of all these ridiculous patents before it completely blocks startups from free access to the online marketplace. Without invalidating some of these patents, everyone is at risk of being sued simply for trying to conduct their business online, and that will kill internet commerce except for a few giants who can afford the patent royalties and litigation costs.

      Sad, when the internet's original promise was to empower the little guy and gal and level the playing field.
      • > a good thing, no matter how evil Cendant may be.

        They were Blizzard's parent company during the StarCraft days. Does that get them any browny points?
      • Another silver lining to this new lawsuit is that it will put Amazon's patents to the test.

        Unless they settle out of court.
      • >>> Sad, when the internet's original promise was to empower the little guy and gal and level the playing field.

        Wow, that is the exact supposed goal of patents as well!

        but combining the two ... yikes!
        • Both get sketchy once they've gone from "theory" to "regulated system". Patents were supposed to help the little guy, but ended up becoming as a system bloated and high-maitenence, with the power falling to the side of whomever had the most power already (ie. corporations, who find it much easier, what with not being individual people, to muster up forces and influence) and thus increasing the differential between the big guys and little guys.

          And, if the noises lately about regulating the internet start
      • Just curious... would a new online business be able to avoid patent hell by having their business hosted on European servers (since the EU just rejected software patents)?
    • I think that it's also a case of Amazon playing by the rules that currently exist, while also trying to get the rules changed. I think that Jeff Bezos is probably sincere in his desire to see the software and business method patenting issues resolved. It's entirely possible to do both things simultaneously and still be true to one's principles.

      That said, however, it would be interesting to know what went on behind the scenes between Amazon and Cendant. Was there any attempt made on Amazon's part to reso


    • My first thought was that this seems like a classic case of defensive patent action, and is fair game in my book.


      No, that would have been if Amazon asked the courts to rule on the case that Cendant dropped. Much like IBM is now asking the courts to entertain SCO's original copyright infringement claims that SCO has since dropped.

      Amazon is bringing a new suit, based on their own obvious bullshit patents. While it may be tit-for-tat, it's hardly justified.
      • Oh, yes, you're right. Amazon should do exactly what IBM is doing to defend against SCO [com.com]. Oh wait, they are.

        Amazon may actually be in violation of Cendant's patents. If you think that Cendant's patents are obvious bullshit, then do you think that Amazon should cheerily take it on the chin, or do you think they should fight back?

        This is quite possibly very different than the SCO case. It would appear that SCO has little legal ground to stand on, let alone moral ground. So, IBM might very well be effect
        • Oh, yes, you're right. Amazon should do exactly what IBM is doing to defend against SCO. Oh wait, they are.

          IBM is making counterclaims AND asking the courts to rule on the original infringement claims. Amazon isn't doing the latter. I mentioned IBM because of them doing the first, to illustrate that you can ask the courts to judge on claims that have already been dropped. Perhaps I could've picked a better example, seeing as IBM are also claiming other patents; the example I was going to post was that mag
    • This will be settled out of court with "unspecified" amont exchanging hands.

      Both companies would not want to risk a costly patent war that will drag in the supreme court which will ultimately result in the supreme court hitting both these frat boys on head with a patent-busting hammer.

      In such a situation, both companies will lose their patents which they won't want to lose. "You scratch my back, i will scratch yours"...

      Case closed. Go back to your work.

  • I'm no longer shopping at amazon. Its realy convinient but I'm fundamentally against supporting IP Brokers :p
    • Re:Thats it! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivan256 (17499) *
      They're not IP brokers. They use all the technology in their patents to do business. They don't pimp IP for a living.
      • They don't pimp IP for a living.

        To be fair, I think he's got something of a point: http://store.apple.com/ [apple.com]

        Obviously this is not their main business, but they have licensed the use of such trivial nonsense as 1 Click Shopping to third parties (Apple, certainly).

        I should think they have made a tidy sum doing so too - more than the entire turnover or networth of a smal time online retailer, and many times more than they could hope to afford.
      • What would you say Amazon does pimp for a living? How is that not IP?
      • They have technology patents now along with their bussines idea patents?
    • before you leave the store, can I interest you in a dictionary?


    • Don't you mean IP whores?
    • by typical (886006) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @09:28PM (#13084429) Journal
      It's not just Amazon. Every large company that does research churns out absurd patents.

      I work at a corporate computer science research wing of an extremely large company (which I won't name, but isn't much different from my previous employer, and is probably not much different from any other large company in the same position). At the moment, the work I'm doing is not research, but software development. Our group has a requirement to turn out N invention disclosures a year, even though we aren't doing research. Naturally, this results in plenty of grumbling and people just grabbing something handy to "disclose" as an invention. There are people Googling for random things online, and submitting them as "inventions" to get upstream management off their back. Thus, the poison seed enters the system as a result of a poor goal/reward structure around research.

      To keep *their* bosses happy, research management has to convert some number of these into patents.

      The USPTO, which does not have the incredible amount of funding that it would require to block all stupid patents (you would literally have to hire the best researchers in every field and give them a long time to mull over each patent), might send these patents back a time or two, but sooner or later they will get through.

      This is where stupid patents come from. Sometime down the road, lawyers will use these as clubs.

      I am not on the financial side, but as far as I can tell, existing players in a market generally just cross-license. AMD and Intel will never duke it out over patents, because neither one would be able to produce chips.

      What happens is that nobody new is able to enter the market, by virtue of a steady stream of patents existing covering all kinds of basic-but-crucial ideas. The idea, from the standpoint of existing players, seems to be to convert a free market into an ogliopoly, in which there is much more profit to be made from consumers, and in which the continuous push to commoditize products can be stopped. And every now and then, existing players merge or go bankrupt, and the market gets ever richer for the existing ones.

      The problem (well, the problem that pisses off a lot of open source programmers) comes in in that open source projects generally don't have any money (certainly not enough to take on a large company in patent litigation). So, instead of being able to do what other large companies do (cross-license, just dump a bunch of money on the other company, whatever is necessary to continue doing their work), open source projects simply cannot do things for fear of being sued (or just having all their hard work thrown out). So we have stupid things like lower quality font rendering (because the FreeType people cannot legally support the TrueType hinting data) and so forth.

      I have fond memories of one meeting at my previous employer where a bunch of researchers and an extremely key (i.e. essentially nonfireable) software developer was. The meeting was to encourage the project to produce more IP, and was being conducted by one of our in-house corporate lawyers. Halfway through the meeting, the software developer (who felt that the whole thing was a waste of his time in the first place, and clearly disliked software patents) stood up and started railing on software patents. The research folks just stood there. Talking privately after the meeting, I discovered most of the researchers agreed with the guy, but saw any complaints as politically incorrect and simply likely to get them fired or research funding (always a popular target for funding cuts) cut.

      The very root issue is twofold: (a) that it's not easy for people to make money on research (in the US, I've been told by people who are more interested in the business side of research that many corporate research labs have gone away or been closed down), and (b) that it is *exceedingly* difficult to effectively judge how well someone is doing research. Everyone will try to present their research as the next gro
      • Thank you for the look at the fetid underbelly of what the problem really is. I wish I had some "Incredibly insightful" mod points to throw your way.

        I can't give the USPTO (or is it the process itself?) the free pass, however. Simply too much prior art, at least in the software field, gets by them. Had they been behaving this way in the early 1900s, Ford Motor Company would have gotten a patent for "A Method Of Forming Molten Metal", or some equally silly thing.

        I can't give Amazon and/or Bezos a free

        • by Eccles (932)
          Simply too much prior art, at least in the software field, gets by them. Had they been behaving this way in the early 1900s, Ford Motor Company would have gotten a patent for "A Method Of Forming Molten Metal", or some equally silly thing.

          Google "Selden patent." Something even more ridiculous was patented.
          • Google "Selden patent." Something even more ridiculous was patented.

            Ah yes, that infamous patent. Remember, next time someone says [some overly-general patent] is a good thing, that an overly-general patent nearly blocked the widespread adoption of the motorcar - and would've done for several years if Henry Ford hadn't risked violating it.
      • The single problem seems to be the insistence that researchers be measurable by a single metric - like sales people are measured by "leads generated", or programmers by "lines of code".

        This is a shortsighted impulse beloved of small-minded PHBs (and entire companies), who'd rather add up a column of figures than think about their subordinates and make a judgement call which more accurately reflects their value to a company.

        The problems with such arbitrary metrics are obvious - a salesperson may make one s
  • by technos (73414) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:43PM (#13083496) Homepage Journal
    That's all. Cendant thought they should try and beat on Amazon. Now Amazon is beating back. Patents are leverage in business these days, novel or not. Cendant will buy a cross license, nuke the earlier suit, and that'll be the end of it.

    • Being a recent hire to Amazon, I found this article especially amusing, because Cendant Mobility is handling my relocation to Amazon (and I assume they handle the relocations for many others to Amazon as well).

      Friends with the enemy?

      Of course, it's more likely that patent law is the rightful enemy.

  • by Infinityis (807294) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:47PM (#13083512) Homepage
    Must be the one-click-filesuit patent...
  • by saterdaies (842986) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:49PM (#13083524)
    While I think the state of our patent system is deplorable, companies can't play by rules that don't exist. We need to sit on our congressmen to get them to pass legislation that will allow businesses to be moral while staying afloat. While Google's "Don't Be Evil" has worked well for them, the same thinking has sent many companies to their graves and it's time for a change in our laws.

    Capitalism is amoral which is why our laws can't be.
    • I'm sure you'll find a lot of supporters to legistlate morality. Good business practices? Sure, whatever, as long as you make sure to outlaw premarital sex, too.
  • winners (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gherald (682277) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:50PM (#13083529) Journal
    I think it is clear there is only one group of winners here, and that is the lawyers.
    • The only thing that would make that sound better is actually being true. Speculating blindly that maybe these companies are in slight competition, if one of them wins then this will give them a competitive advantage.

      Not to be confused with Med-Mal style law, which is better for lawyers. (Who, possibly like their victims, make outrageously large amounts of money from questionably quantifiable damages.)

      I'm not saying I'm in favor of this sort of patent adventuring, but saying knee-jerk insightful things
      • Re:winners (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "I'm not saying I'm in favor of this sort of patent adventuring, but saying knee-jerk insightful things like "Only the lawyers benefit from legal action" is rather specious IMO."

        In stupid patent-everything-and-sue-everyone corporate world, only the lawyers benefit in the long run. As long as you can patent the obvious, everyone will have patents, and so everyone and anyone who can affort lawyers will be able to sue others for stupid reasons. In the long run, this will hurt businesses, consumers, techno
      • Re:winners (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gherald (682277)
        > Amazon has sued Cendant .... Amazon itself was sued by Cendant

        Yeah, the "competitive advantage" of not allowing their competitors to be competitive! This hurts consumers and hurts all companies in the long run. Only the hired mercenaries truly benefit.
  • acts of fraud by the involved parties, there really isn't much to see here but just those wallowing in their own shit.

    software by its very nature, is NOT patentable. [ffii.org]
    • Consider, "Nature likes three (3) in primaries, as color in light (additive - red, blue, green) and paint (subtractive - blue, yellow, red) from which we can create all other colors in the rainbow. This applies to abstraction physics as well, as there are three primary user interfaces."

      So "nature" likes threes, and created three primary user interfaces...

      Right. I mean, with such pseudo-scientific "logic" as this on our side, how can we loose?

    • by TrappedByMyself (861094) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @06:50PM (#13083798)
      software by its very nature, is NOT patentable

      I don't see the argument. I see a bunch of fancy words and broad generalizations that magically conclude that software is not patentable.

      The key lies with this sentence: "Currently patent granting organizations have no solid reference point of "abstraction physics" from which to test software patent applications against, or re-evaluate granted software patents."
      You need to show that this is the directive of the patent office by further explaining the concept, providing references to the patent office documentation, and showing examples of how non-software patents meet the criteria.

      Right now, you're just oversimplifying the issue and playing logic games. You need to show a clear argument instead of trying the "I'm correct because I write better than you read" approach.
  • Just be glad Amazon didn't use their one-click-missile-launch [blueorigin.com] systems
  • by cahiha (873942) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:53PM (#13083544)
    So many things point to Amazon that it seems like a lot of hassle to buy anywhere else, but it's not.

    Get yourself a copy of Book Burro [overstimulate.com]; it will automatically annotate any Amazon page you go to with a list of other bookstores you can buy the book at, as well as the prices (often lower than Amazon).
  • by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @05:53PM (#13083547)
    ...it infringed when using the tools to secure credit-card transactions, handle customer referrals and manage data

    The (very short) article doesn't say what exactly Cedant is allegedly infringing, but "secure credit card transactions", "customer referrals", and especially "data management" seem trivial techniques which should never have been patented in the first place. If this goes to court, the judge might think so too. It could be the start of patent reforms.

    • trivial techniques which should never have been patented in the first place. If this goes to court, the judge might think so too. It could be the start of patent reforms.

      And it could be very unlikely that none of these patents, or their challenges, will lead to patent reform, espcially if it relies upon the actions of a judge.

  • Next we know, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ionicplasma (820891)
    Sooner or later there will be a company doing nothing but creating patents and suing other companies that infringe on them.

    Actually, I'm sure I've already heard of a company doing that. *cough*SCO*cough*.
    • You mean something like Edison Did, or BTG and others... the we file lots of patents and sue the others into the ground system is as old as the patent system itself. For Edisons merits, he really invented some stuff, but other stuff like the Lightbulb blatantly was copied or invented much later. The BTG however is the classical example of such a company, it was the BTG to my knowlege which basically kept the publicly funded Interferon development away from the public for several decades because they tried t
      • Re:Next we know, (Score:3, Informative)

        by DrSkwid (118965)
        The story of the lightbulb also incorporates a tale of success for the patent system.

        Edison used existing patents to avoid dead end research.

        He pre-announced the vaporware lightbulb before he had even got anywhere near completing his research.

        He also sued Swan for patent infringment, despite Swan's patent being granted 1 year prior to Edisons. The two of them decided to join forces instead of continued litigation and became the world's leading suppliers of lightbulbs.

        So, the world benefitted from the pa
    • Re:Next we know, (Score:4, Informative)

      by silentbozo (542534) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:48PM (#13084728) Journal
      You must be thinking about Forgent [forgent.com], who basically abandoned their scheduling product line in favor of buying up patent portfolios, and suing everyone in sight that might be violating them [geek.com]. Unlike SCO, Forgent has actually succeeded in ripping off millions of dollars in licenses for such things like JPEG [wired.com], and are moving into suing PVR manufacturers.
    • Sooner or later there will be a company doing nothing but creating patents and suing other companies that infringe on them.

      My personal fear is that, sooner or later, so many patent-only companies will have patented critical techniques and be using the patents to milk software companies, that it becomes economically impossible to actually create any software. Sort of a "patent event horizon", so to speak.
    • SCO doesn't own a single patent. Their lawsuits are about contractual matters with customers and partners.
  • by TRRosen (720617)
    Kroger has filled suit against Wal-mart and Target for violating its patent for "an apparatus for and process of containing purchased goods in a polymer or wood fiber based sleeve for transport to consumers domicile" also known as bagging.
  • Amazon got sued first... and just because they withdrew their case later doesn't mean they forgot... it could just mean they didn't have a case... and if I was Amazon, and I HAD LET THEM use MY patent... I'd turn right around and devestate them.

    Horray for Amazon taking the fight back to them.
  • by IronTek (153138) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @06:15PM (#13083619) Homepage
    That's right Cendant! In honor of Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary, we're celebrating by making special deliveries.

    For you, it's a lawsuit!

    Now sit back, releax, and enjoy the concert!

  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Szaman2 (716894)

    Let me get this straight? Amazon sues people because they "used tools to provide secure credit card transactions"??? You mean like SSL? They SUED SOMEONE FOR USING FRIKEN SSL?

    Ok, we don't know that. I'm sure there has to be something more than using SSL there, but still. If a company can patent something as trivial as "secure credit card transactions" and successfully win a patent infringement case, it will mean that all online stores will be liable. It's a scary thought...

    • by gunner800 (142959)
      Amazon can't patent "secure credit card transactions", but they can patent a particular way to implement secure credit card transactions. Anybody who does it the same way infringes upon the patent. Those who do it in a substantially different way don't infringe.

      ("substantially" should be read in a wishy-washy, hand-wavey tone of voice)

  • Send a message to Jeff Bezos. Don't buy from Amazon.
  • by UlfGabe (846629) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @06:30PM (#13083697) Journal
    We are reaching critical mass in the legalistic system, retalitory lawsuits fired off from company to company will destabilize the global economy.

    It becomes more efficient to patent obvious buisness methods and steps to solving a problem, and then sue people using those methods to allow them to compete with you, rather than try and innovate.

    Innovation costs money, Patent arsenals allow for wasteful practices to continue unabated for the lifetime of the patent.

    The patent wars are just starting right now.

    Which side are you on?
    • This is so true. We will be seeing more and more of this.

      At some point, it will become impossible for a small or middle sized company to break into any market. It will be impossible to innovate in any marked, as all the corporate gigants will be locking out eachother with their patents.

      And hopefully at some point someone will figure out what was going wrong and fix the patent system. But not before alot of finger pointing, yelling screaming and generally anti-consumer actions. Because of our patent law,

  • Finally we see the real reason for the patent system. Not to get the little guys but for big corporations to war each other over mundane idiosyncrasies in their web apps.
  • Amazon (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    *sigh* I have seen this happen at so many big companies. The leaf nodes of the company are honest, hard-working people while the people at the top are complete scum. Usually the head shark (oops I mean lawyer) reports directly to the CFO or CEO. These guys are usually pretty chummy and the head legal guy needs to justify his job... often that means taking proactive slimy legal action just so other companies dont fuck with them in the future.

    It's a pathetic game because software patents are in reality de
  • patent my brain (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rocketman768 (838734) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @06:43PM (#13083762) Homepage
    This whole patent process is getting out of hand. Trying to patent a mere IDEA is not what the original creators of the copyright had in mind. If Amazon.com wants to recommend you a product, fine. If Amazon.com wants to patent the recommendation, then this statement will get me in deep water: "If you like Neil Stephenson, you might like William Gibson."

    I'm just saying that the courts need to realize when companies are going too far with copyrights. Otherwise, my truly original and creative ideas may turn out to be nothing more than a vault of copyright infringements.
    • This whole patent process is getting out of hand. Trying to patent a mere IDEA is not what the original creators of the copyright had in mind.

      I am sure the original creators of copyright didn't have patents in mind at all. (sigh)
  • The american economy is pretty much run on lawsuits transactions rather that business related B2B or B2C transactions. Corporations aside personal lawsuits are on the rise too.

    An interesting poll in slashdot could be how many times have you been sued personally. Although techies don't get involved in lawsuits but management officals get pulled in often.

  • Pointed Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @07:35PM (#13083986) Homepage Journal
    Patent registrants like Amazon's Bezos say things like "we only register these patents to protect our own right to do things this way, not to prevent others from doing so". Then they turn around and, as is their right under the patent, prevent others from doing things that way. There ought to be a "defensive only" form of patent, or a standard, binding statement that a company can assert, which states they will waive the right to become plaintiffs in a lawsuit (or threaten to do so) claiming rights under the patent. Then, when they say they're benign, we will have a reason to believe them. They won't be able to say "we're protecting our ability to work this way by stopping the competition from working this way, and taking our business", which is just weasel words to use their patents like a weapon, not just a shield.
    • A binding release is not hard to do, at least within the U.S. system. Recently IBM did one for a portfolio of software patents, although it was limited to use in "open source" software. See the wikinews entry here [wikinews.org].
  • by gunner800 (142959) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @07:36PM (#13083990) Homepage
    We don't know which patent is at issue, or what Cendant did that appears to infringe. As of right this second, not even Google News [google.com] can find anything meaningful. Maybe it's an abuse of the system, maybe it's a legitimate case of ripping off an invention.

    (Not, it's just simply "using the tools to" blah blah blah, it's got to be some particular tool or particular way of using them to even touch upon patent law)

    So, basically, anything anybody says in this thread is speculation and wild-assed guessery. Except that statement and this one justifying it.
  • by putko (753330) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @07:59PM (#13084084) Homepage Journal
    I'm seeing various posts saying, "boycott Amazon" -- they are evil IP mofos. That is pretty silly! Micro$oft and Apple are doing similarly (or more) reprehensible things, and boycotts of them are not popular enough to make any difference in their behavior.

    Amazon is really huge these days -- $600 billion or so a year in sales. That revenue is coming from non-ideologically motivated schmucks, not geeks who think and care about IP issues. A geek boycott will be about as successful as Jesse Jackson's boycott of Nike (he couldn't get blacks to do it).

    Try it again, this time with feeling.
  • by zoid.com (311775) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @07:59PM (#13084089) Homepage Journal
    Not for the company's being sued but it's great for the freaking screwed up patent process. Maybe this will be the lawsuit that fixes the patent process. If someone can patent a conference call with visual indicator in this day and age then the process is way passed broken. The patent office is the group that needs to be sued.
    • I agree, the more ridiculous suits, the more attention this problem gets.

      But I feel the real way to 'fix' the PTO is to find a patent that causes some company/ies to suffer financially (due to the likes of Amazon strong-arming them), get the PTO to invalidate it later on, then, since they originally validated an invalid patent causing said companies harm, sue the PTO for damages (class action preferably), and win the suit.

      Then the PTO might finally clue in that software patents are bad, and potentially a
  • by MrBlic (27241) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @08:23PM (#13084175) Homepage
    After a project that I worked on for years was cut down before its prime because of a software patent threat (there wasn't even clear infringement!) I am sick of companies that play the game (right or wrong) of software patents.

    Even though the patent system follows some honorable principles, the reality is that any patent suit brings down both companies involved.

    I for one am going to buy "What the dormouse said." by John Markoff from www.penguinputnam.com/ instead of amazon today. Take that! (I just read a great review by Bill Joy of Markoff's book in Technology Review.)

    Are there any sites that track how litigious companies are, so I can give my business to the ones that sling the least mud?

    -Jim
  • Setup a zone in every DNS server in your control to resolve amazon.com to bn.com or your favorite online retailer.

    Until we can get the patent office reformed, we have to hit Amazon in the pocketbook. I believe this is a start.
  • I was involved on the fringe with an investment group here in Seattle that had US$2.5million to invest in a tech startup/small company. They scoured North America and the world for the "best" opportunity. They ended up investing in a mobile data company in Zanzibar just of the Tanzanian coast of Africa. (Yes and the principles live in Seattle) They will broadcast data for vacationing Europeans and Indians mainly. Why not in the U.S.??? The American legal system makes doing business here much more expensive
  • by suitepotato (863945) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @09:42PM (#13084493)
    It is about time the critical mass of absurd patents was hit and battle between these patent whores began. Let them fight, let them drag each other down publicly in spectacle, let them drag the condition of their making into the light and let them be seen by the public for what they are and what they're doing.

    Perhaps if it gets absurd enough, congress will finally step in and do some reform however half-assed if only to cover their complicity in it all via the back door of campaign contributions and looking the other way.

    Whatever happens, I'm rooting against Amazon until the day they go Chapter 13.
  • by tirk (655692) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:24PM (#13084845) Homepage
    I think this is one of the patents refered to in the article - it seems a pretty obvious "invention" to me - gotta wonder about some of these patents. ------ Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers over a non-secure network Abstract A method and system for securely indicating to a customer one or more credit card numbers that a merchant has on file for the customer when communicating with the customer over a non-secure network. The merchant sends a message to the customer that contains only a portion of each of the credit card numbers that are on file with the merchant. The message may also contain a notation explaining which portion of each of the credit card numbers has been extracted. A computer (38) retrieves the credit card numbers on file for the customer in a database (40), constructs the message, and transits the message to a customer location (10) over the Internet network (30) or other non-secure network. The customer can then confirm in a return message that a specific one of the credit card numbers on file with the merchant should be used in charging a transaction. Since only a portion of the credit card number(s) are included in any message transmitted, a third party cannot discover the customer's complete credit card number(s). http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm &r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5715399.WKU.&OS=PN/5715399&RS=PN/ 5715399 [uspto.gov]
  • *Amazon slaps Orbitz around a bit with a large lawsuit
  • by theodp (442580) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:41PM (#13084896)
    According to documents filed in the case [uscourts.gov] by Preston Gates & Ellis (yep, Bill G's dad!), Amazon is joined in the lawsuit by A9.com in demanding injunctive relief and unspecified triple damages for "irreparable injury and damages" as a result of Cendant's infringement of the following patents:

    Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers over a non-secure network [uspto.gov] (5,715,399), which is held by Bezos and covers displaying "the last N digits of the credit card number, where N is an integer,"

    Internet-based customer referral system [uspto.gov] (6,029,141), which is also held by Bezos and covers Amazon's affiliate program,

    Electronic commerce using multiple roles [uspto.gov] (6,629,079), which covers the use of "multiple electronic shopping carts," and

    Navigating within a body of data using one of a number of alternative browse graphs [uspto.gov] (6,625,609), which describes how one might sell "a Pez candy dispenser in the shape of the Marvin the Martian."

    BTW, Bezos' '399 patent was the subject of a curious 2001 Prior Art contest [archive.org] run by the Bezos-funded BountyQuest - ties to Bezos were never disclosed and the contest results were never revealed.
    • covers displaying "the last N digits of the credit card number, where N is an integer,"

      So if N = 16, the patent actually covers displaying VISA numbers? Cool.
    • Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers over a non-secure network [uspto.gov] (5,715,399), which is held by Bezos and covers displaying "the last N digits of the credit card number, where N is an integer,"

      Haven't shops been using similar techniques on till reciepts for ages? Is this just one of those cases, where someone takes an existiong technique, slaps "over the Internet" on the end, and patents it?
  • Selling on the internet ha ha ha ;)
  • knew 'or should have known' it infringed when using the tools to secure credit-card transactions

    Of course, common sense dictates that if you didn't know a patented invention existed, but you managed to reinvent it anyway, then it probably wasn't much of an invention in the first place.

  • http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/07/18/amazon_ p atent_suit/

    Patent 5715399 [uspto.gov] is trivial. Its novelty is suspect, being a copy of what the CC companies' own cash register CC terminals usually do to obscure card numbers on recipts. Saying the Intenet makes it novel again is crap.

    Concerning the infamous Internet Shopping Cart Patent 6629079 [uspto.gov], maybe they were the first to patent it, but I challenge the Slashdot crowd to hit the wayback machine for some pre-April-2003 perl CGI that implemented shopping carts.

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley

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