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Amazon Using Patent Reform to Strengthen 1-Click 71

Posted by Zonk
from the song-and-dance-routine dept.
theodp writes "As some predicted, lawyers for Amazon.com have recently submitted 1-Click prior art solicited by Tim O'Reilly under the auspices of Jeff Bezos' patent reform effort to the USPTO, soliciting a 'favorable action' that would help bulletproof the patent. Last June, an Amazon lobbyist referred to deficiencies with the same prior art as he tried to convince Congress that 1-Click was novel, prompting Rep. Howard Berman to call BS."
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Amazon Using Patent Reform to Strengthen 1-Click

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  • by nurb432 (527695)
    More restrictive nonsence. Just what we need.
  • One-Click? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WannabeAnonymous (980301) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @07:40AM (#18133146)
    Amazon seems to have made an error in its patent claim. When I try to use amazon.com's one-click system to make a purchase, I hear and feel two clicks.

    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      If Amazon can patent "one click", then B&N should patent "two click" through "hundred click". Then, if Amazon needs any more than a single click to buy anything you want from the site, B&N can sue.

      Kinda like the joke about 7-minute abs...
      • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
        I know it's bad taste to reply to myself, but here goes:

        How about a JavaScript action for "no click" shopping? Just hold the mouse over the "buy now" button and it's automagically shipped to your door.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by mtmra70 (964928)
      I purchased an item the other day witb "1 click".

      I did the following:
        -clicked the "1 click" button
        -confirmed my order (2nd click)
        -confirmed my credit card (3rd click)
        -confirmed my address (4th click)
        -confirmed that I did actually want the item, again (5th click)
      • They never do explain properly to customers what "1-click" is. I never use it. I keep thinking it would skip steps 2-5 and who wants that?
  • 1 Click (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nagora (177841) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @07:45AM (#18133158)
    1-Click is an obvious use of cookies. In fact, it's almost exactly what cookies were developed for. Amazon are lying bastards when they claim that this is their idea.

    Don't buy from Amazon. Is it really that hard to understand?

    • by C0C0C0 (688434)
      You know, I hate lame patent grabs as much as the next guy, but I'm wondering if this shouldn't really be considered a case of "Don't hate the playa, hate the game". As long as the rules are set as they are, I think the options available to any business is to grab or be sued. If Amazon hadn't done this, who's to say that it wouldn't have been B&N or Buy.com who did? These people have stock holders to answer to. The high moral ground is nice, it's even important, but business is war with agreed upon
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Jekler (626699)

      "Is it really that hard to understand?"

      Patronizing rhetoric does not often persuade people to join your cause.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by bangzilla (534214)
        Then let me make it clear to you; Amazon invented this capability. The reason you say it is "obvious" is that Amazon has made it so by their wide and successful use of it. You may not like the patent process -- but I'm sure if you invented something you'd be the first person to scream about potecting your invention. If you *don't* believe Amazon invented this, please provide evidence of prior art. And spouting off about cookies is not prior art -- you have to actually show how this was being used in the sam
        • Re:1 Click (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nagora (177841) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:32PM (#18134424)
          Then let me make it clear to you; Amazon invented this capability.

          No they didn't. Cookies were introduced to identify returning users by a unique code. The fact that Amazon made that code synonymous with a credit card number is a minor detail.

          The reason you say it is "obvious" is that Amazon has made it so by their wide and successful use of it.

          No, it's because it was obvious. It was obvious then and it's obvious now for the simple reason that it was a trivial and obvious use of someone else's idea.

          And spouting off about cookies is not prior art -- you have to actually show how this was being used in the same way

          Cookies are the invention, you moron. Identifying customers is what cookies were invented for. I don't have to find prior art because this is the SAME art.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jekler (626699)

          If I invented something I would not be the first person to scream about protecting my invention. I don't believe in patents, I don't think ideas should be property. Many countries function well without giving people the right to stake their claim on aspects of the human thought process.

          Any software I develop will be free software. I don't believe I was the first person to think of anything, and I don't deserve compensation for the ideas I come up with. I think making money by shouting "I thought of it


    • I haven't yet made single purchase from Amazon, and that's apparently the way that Mr. Bezos wants it. No skin off my back. I prefer to reward my business to vendors who aren't so caught up in their own, unique little perception of a completely stupid patent. Go for it, Jeff. I hope "one-click" serves you well, but I sure as hell won't be part of it.
    • Obvious is difficult to define. Sure, it's obvious now in 2007 a whole 12 years after cookie functionality was added to Netscape. But was it obvious in 1997? Maybe. Maybe not. Obviousness is such a slippery slope that it's pointless to even argue about -- in court this argument boils down to a personality contest between attorneys and expert witnesses. No one wants to win or loose on those odds.

      If 1-click isn't Amazon's idea, then produce some proof that it isn't. This is the sure fire way to invalida
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nagora (177841) *
        Obvious is difficult to define. Sure, it's obvious now in 2007 a whole 12 years after cookie functionality was added to Netscape. But was it obvious in 1997?

        Yes. Blatantly obvious. They took cookies and used them for the purpose they were designed for. It's like patenting travelling in cars and claiming that the invention of the car itself was a separate issue.

      • Amazon's patent US 5690411 [patentmonkey.com] Claim 1 reads (as a refresher)...

        1. A method of placing an order for an item comprising: under control of a client system, displaying information identifying the item; and
        in response to only a single action being performed, sending a request to order the item along with an identifier of a purchaser of the item to a server system;
        under control of a single-action ordering component of the server system, receiving the request;
        retrieving additional information previously stored f

  • Thanks God (Score:5, Funny)

    by the100rabh (947158) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @08:03AM (#18133206) Homepage Journal
    Thank God they are not patenting online shopping. List of things they can also patent
    1) One click see all specification(Rather make it Zero click also)
    2) Hover and buy
    3) Pay by credit card
    4) Get it delivered at home

    Why is US Government blind all these malpractices.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mgiuca (1040724)
      5) "Method for presenting clickable text which navigates a web browser to a new URL"
      6) "Method for requesting a document resource on a remote server"
      7) "Method to allow a consumer to designate desire to purchase products remotely"
    • by bangzilla (534214)
      Nope. Amazon cannot patent the things you list as they are ither already covered by patents or are unpatentable. You know that - why list them?? "Why is US Government blind all these malpractices" What malpractices? Evidence please. Proof please. Otherwise you're just spouting whining rhetoric. US Govt. is *your* elected body. Think they are blind to something? Then vote someone in that you believe will support your case. Lobby your representatives for changes to laws governing patents. Change comes from
      • by ady1 (873490)
        Actually you can patent things which are already patented. The way patents are designed is that they are complimentary. You can still patent a specific implementation of an already patented "invention".
  • by mgiuca (1040724) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @08:35AM (#18133320)
    Which of the 6 links is TFA?

    *mindblown*
    • by Bob54321 (911744)
      Good question but there is one advantage to having so many links. The story has been on the front page for a while now and none of the links are slashdotted... I still didn't read them though so I can't help with you original problem.
    • Who cares? (Score:5, Funny)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:45AM (#18133822)
      Why does it matter? You weren't planning on reading it, were you?
    • Which of the 6 links is TFA?

      *mindblown*Submitter was trying to steer well clear of any conceivable infringement of the one-click patent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:06AM (#18133462)
    As pointed out by Professor Jeremy Phillips [blogspot.com], on the unfortunate occasion of political maneuvering to bring the marvels of software patents and business method patents to Europe as well, this article [grosche.com] in Oxford University Press's International Journal of Law and Information Technology does a great job of debunking the whole approach - while citing and synthesizing the views of IT&IP luminaries through the past few decades or even centuries. Hopefully, so will the U.S. Supreme Court, finally, at least if Justice Breyer's remarks in Microsoft v. AT&T [zdnet.co.uk] (transcript [supremecourtus.gov]) are any indication:

    We're operating under the assumption that software is patentable... but we've never held that in this court, ever.
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:27AM (#18133520)
    I have to admit I don't really get this one. I don't get Amazon's insistance on defending this patent, and I don't get the venom spewed towards Amazon by /.ites regarding this patent. While I haven't done an exhaustive study, I don't detect any perceivable difference click-count-wise shopping at Amazon versus any other site. I click around tens or hundreds of times finding the item I want before deciding to buy. "1-click" certainly doesn't factor into where I will buy - my decision is based purely on price (including shipping and "handling") and availability. In my view Amazon is wasting a ton of money and time defending their patent(s). As regards /.ites, save the venom for something that matters. If Amazon wants to defend their silly patent, who cares? It simply has no effect on us at all (except for perhaps inflating Amazon's prices to cover their legal fees, which will only tend to make us shop elsewhere).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 3seas (184403)
      It's the principle of the matter. The idea of being granted a patent on something so obviously not patentable is an indication of deeper problems. It is an obvious symptom of a disease of mental retardation, and how to propagate it.

      Stop the disease from spreading, don't ignore it till it bits you in the ass.

      The whole thing on the idea of software patents is mentally and completely faulty.

      Its all about abstraction physics, how to manipulate the abstract communication we humans have the unique ability and nat
      • by samkass (174571)
        Your rant is hard to parse, but you seem to be equating software with fundamental laws of physics. It's not, any more than Fallingwater could theoretically be built by natural wind and erosion. Any innovative piece of software contains a substantial investment in brainpower, and it's more than "connect tab a to slot b". That investment is not only valuable, but far cheaper to copy than to create the first time.

        I agree that the bar for "obvious" in patent law needs to be raised dramatically, and I will en
        • by 3seas (184403)
          your comment is simply another way of saying "only a fool would think nothing can have value" r:e the zero place holder and its use in the decimal system vs. teh roman numeral accountant elites defending their vested interest.

          The proof is in showing that all human abstraction creations and manipulations of, can be automated.

          It's amazing the double standard that is fabricated by programmers that claim no program can be created to do what programmers do, when in fact a program is a mirror of the programmers m
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kazrael (918535)
      Just because they are not using it to go after anyone yet, does not mean that they won't in the future. In the end, their legal department funds, matched with this patent, can shut down any small company competitor with a threat of a patent suit. /.ites are pissed because we recognize this as a threat to innovation by the little guys.
      • Then, when Amazon goes after a small competitor, let the outrage begin. However, simply defending the patent which seems, at least to me, to be almost innocuous (there are always many ways around a patent), is not something about which to get all hot and bothered. There are a zillion sites out there that *seem* to be completely unaffected by this 1-click patent. I just think we should direct our outrage where it matters. Large companies get patents almost exclusively as a defensive measure ... because what
      • by grcumb (781340)

        Just because they are not using it to go after anyone yet, does not mean that they won't in the future.

        Incorrect. Amazon gained notoriety for this patent when they took Barnes and Noble to court and won a decision barring their competitor from allowing one-click purchases. Barnes and Noble were then forced to implement a 'two-click' system. The entire affair was a farce, and remains a canonical example of why allowing software patents is the purest folly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jlarocco (851450)

      Because Amazon was granted a patent for using a web browser and cookies the way web browsers and cookies were supposed to be used. It's like if I get a patent for "Using bleach to clean a surface," or "Using antacid tablets to get rid of heartburn." It's not just obvious, it's using existing technology in exactly the way it was intended to be used.

      It's probably the best example of why the patent system in the US is fundamentally broken. That's the main reason for all the /. rage.

    • From the pages of the law firm defending Amazon's 1-Click patent: 'Led...the team enforcing Amazon.com's 1-Click patent against its then-arch rival Barnesandnoble.com, establishing the competitive importance of business method patents [fenwick.com].'
      • Ahhh, but yours is an example of one big company going after another big company because a) the "offender" is big enough to be a threat and b) they have a pile of money that could make it worth while. Large companies like Amazon simply do not go after small companies for patent violations because it is not worth their time. So when everyone decries how the patent system squashes innovation and favors the big companies over smaller companies, I think they are wrong. Now it may well be that the patent system
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:51AM (#18133852) Journal
    The Summary is wrong
    Misener (who gets called out by Berman) is not an Amazon Lobbyist

    Mr. Misener = Vice President for Global Public Policy, Amazon.com
    Mr. Smith = Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property & Rep from Texas
    Mr. Berman = Rep from California
    Mr. Issa = Rep from California

    (this seems like a good spot to start}
    And, Mr. Misener, one last question for you. This goes to the 1-Click patent for which Amazon.com is becoming famous. And of course it's under review by PTO. But--I know your answer, but could not Amazon.com be accused of being a troll for patenting the 1-Click?

    Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
    Mr. MISENER. Oh, we have for about 6 years now. But it's inaccurate, and here are the reasons why. First of all, there's been a lot of complaint about whether or not it was an innovation. And truly it's not innovative only in hindsight. At the time it was a radical departure from the shopping cart model which was ubiquitous on the Web. But more to the point, we have exercised this patent only against a competitor who at the time we exercised it had publicly announced their intention to crush our business. This was not some scheme to hit up small users of 1-Click or similar technologies, it was really to get at a competitor who had not invested anything in developing this technology and had, again, avowed to crush us.

    Mr. SMITH. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Misener. And thank you all.

    Mr. Berman, do you have any additional questions? Mr. Berman is recognized.

    Mr. BERMAN. Thank you.

    Paul Barton David, one of Amazon.com's founding programmers, called the 1-Click patent an extremely obvious technology. And Tim O'Reilly, who's been involved in shaping Internet trends, describes the 1-Click patent as an attempt to----

    Mr. SMITH. Mr. Misener, we did not coordinate our questions here.

    Mr. BERMAN [continuing]. Has not gotten up to speed on the state of the art in computer science. It's been a raging controversy, and I have no idea whether it's valid or not--because I'm a lawyer. But the controversy itself was one of the issues that got at least a few of us 5 or 6 years ago thinking about some issues of reform.

    Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC

    Let's talk about in your testimony you state last year for $40 million we settle with Soverain, owner of a host of broad e-commerce patents, nearly two dozen of which were purchased for less than a million dollars. We settled for 40 million. Did you believe these patents to be invalid because they were too broad?

    Mr. MISENER.We still believe them to be invalid.

    Mr. BERMAN. Because they were too broad?

    Mr. MISENER.In part because they were too broad.

    Mr. BERMAN. Did you attempt to initiate a reexamination?

    Mr. MISENER.Yes, we did. And it was not going to be completed in time to be relevant to the case.

    Mr. BERMAN. Do you consider this company a patent troll because they purchased the patents for less than a million dollars, which presumably didn't represent the value of the patents?

    Mr. MISENER.I've shied away as defining them as a troll or not. We were----

    Mr. BERMAN. Nobody has shied away from calling you a troll over one claim.

    Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC

    Mr. MISENER.That's true. We worked, by the way, with Mr. O'Reilly; we came and met with Members of Congress 6 years ago because we agreed that there were areas to improve the patent system
    • by theodp (442580)
      One can be an employee and a lobbyist [opensecrets.org]. :-)
    • by Alioth (221270)

      Misener (who gets called out by Berman) is not an Amazon Lobbyist

      Mr. Misener = Vice President for Global Public Policy, Amazon.com

      He is a lobbyist. "Vice President for Global Public Policy" means "lobbyist" in weaselease.
  • Patenting 1-Click is like realizing that the flush toilet has already been patented and then deciding to patent taking a dump.
  • by popo (107611) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @02:13PM (#18135122) Homepage
    Billions of dollars trade hands in Internet commerce annually. A very small percentage of which is one-click.
    Undoubtedly, the "One Click" patent is ridiculous because it fails the test of being "obvious", but the issue
    is -- if "One Click" wasn't patented would it be as commonly used as many believe?

    Amazon has touted the one click patent to the ire of the world, but its important to remember that most Amazon
    purchases are *not made through one-click*. Why does Amazon fight so hard to keep "One Click", then?

    The answer is two words: "Stock Price". Remember that Amazon went for years and years as an unprofitable company
    with a lot of expectation of future profit. Throughout those years they touted their ultra-efficient infrastructure
    and their patented IP (including "One Click") as justifications for their high P/E ratio.

    The battle for "One Click" is less of a battle for vital, core-business IP and more of a battle for the public
    perception that Amazon has a "secret sauce".

    Let 'em keep it if they want it. IMHO "One Click" is as much a 'security nightmare waiting to happen' as it is a
    revenue booster. I see it as Amazon's Active-X. But even if it never turns into a security risk, its tough to
    claim that Amazon's deathgrip on "One Click" is stifling internet commerce, which grows by leaps and bounds
    annually.

  • "1-click 2.0" naturally.
  • O'Reilly and others suggest that patent holders might use knowledge of prior art to (I'm paraphrasing) "adjust their claims" or "pursue a bogus patent less agressively" or "using failure to find prior art as support of the novelty of an idea".

    But all of those don't get at the more serious problem with giving patent trolls like Amazon prior art information: merely listing a reference to prior art on a patent immunizes the patent from prior art claims based on that reference. The presumption is that if the p
  • In 1996-97, I worked on a website called 1virtualplace.com for First Virtual Holdings, makers of the infamous VirtualPIN. A VirtualPIN was a unique identifier that a customer could use to buy something. Enter your VirtualPIN and click buy. One click to buy something. Of course you had to reply to an email to complete the purchase, but this is all about clicking buttons on a website (though, I must admit, I have not read through the patent).

    The VirtualPIN made it possible to buy things with one click. We eve

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