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Amazon Goes Web 2.0 Wild to Defend 1-Click Patent 77

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-really-it's-cool-when-we-do-it dept.
theodp writes "Six years ago, Jeff Bezos and Tim O'Reilly urged the masses to give-patent-reform-a-chance as Richard Stallman called for an Amazon boycott. On Monday, the pair will reunite to kick off O'Reilly's new Amazon-sponsored Web 2.0 Expo with A Conversation with Jeff Bezos. Be interesting if the conversation turned to Amazon's ongoing battle against an actor's effort to topple Bezos' 1-Click patent, which The Register notes included dumping 58 lbs. of paperwork on the patent examiner, including dozens of articles from the oh-so-Web-2.0 Wikipedia, which the USPTO had already deemed an un acceptable source of information ('From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,' quipped patent expert Greg Aharonian)."
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Amazon Goes Web 2.0 Wild to Defend 1-Click Patent

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I got "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

    I guess /. is disabling their one-click "Read More" links.
    • by hedora (864583)
      I found the link to the article on the second try! (Still no story though...) What do I win?

      Maybe I should patent "one link" slashdot submissions... ;)
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:41AM (#18750339)

    'From a legal^W any point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,'
    • by owlnation (858981) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:47AM (#18750409)
      It is indeed.

      There's disagreeable things in this article - Amazon's ludicrous patent, the whole concept of Web 2.0, and The Register in general. So, it's nice to come away with something that's patently ('scuse the pun) obviously true. Wiki citations are most surely toilet paper, and not just from a legal POV.
      • by cyphercell (843398) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:53AM (#18750487) Homepage Journal
        Actually, in debate, I am often very pleased when my opponent relies heavily on wikipedia, it's like shooting fish in the frozen food section.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xenocide2 (231786)
        Well, I don't know about that. The default view in a wikipedia is certainly an uncertain proposition, but why should we trust wikipedia less than any other site? Yes, it's editable, but it also has revision control. As long as we generally trust website citations, wikipedia provides for demonstrating WHEN an article said something and for how long. I doubt writing about an idea counts as prior art though, so I'm not sure what the gain is.

        I'm sure lawyers can pick up on this. Whether judges can accurately me
        • by Hrothgar The Great (36761) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:42AM (#18751157) Journal
          I don't think it's a good assumption that website citations are generally to be trusted for academic purposes. Wikipedia has requirements that citations from more trusted sources are included in articles - the lawyers in this case really should have known enough to go to those original sources and cite from there instead. You would think they would teach this sort of stuff in law school.

          If the articles in question DIDN'T contain citations from other sources, then how could any of the information be trusted at all, given that it was written by one or many basically anonymous users?

          Personally, I find Wikipedia to be really useful, but the problem with it from an academic standpoint is that any conclusions arrived at in its articles without citation tend to arise out of the consensus of the user community, and there is really no reason to trust information simply because the majority agrees it is the truth, especially in matters like this one.
          • by Alchemar (720449)
            I agree for a recount of the facts that Wikipedia would not be a reliabe source, but for the publishing of prior art it seems to me that it should be more than acceptable. If someone post an idea in an article, and they can verify when the article was modified to include that idea, it should establish that no patent can be filled on that idea after the date it was posted i.e. published. I don't care if there are no refrences, it is no longer an original idea.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by user24 (854467)
          sure, if you dig through the entire history of the article to make sure that the bit you're citing/using/reading has survived the almost non-existent "peer review process", then you can be sure of.. what? that it isn't vandalism? no - it could have just slipped through the net (and when you're looking for something like a date, who's going to know if the battle of actium gets changed from 31 to 32 BC?).

          The difference between wikipedia and normal websites is that normal websites aren't editable by just anyon
          • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            The difference for citation for your PhD dissertation and citation for patent-busting is that for patent-busting, the only bar is that the patent was thought up by "just anyone", prior to the date of application, which Wikipedia conveniently tracks. It doesn't matter that some guy claiming to hold 8 PhDs but who turns out to be 12 years old and spends his free time trolling Talk pages about how he personally witnessed the signing of the Constitution, if some kid thought up your invention before you did, yo
          • by The Great Pretender (975978) on Monday April 16, 2007 @12:21PM (#18751759)
            Surely the main position on Wiki and patents is disclosure. If the idea has been disclosed publicly prior to one year (? - INAL) then it can't be patented. So if some one has placed it in a public Wiki it surely must be considered publicly disclosed? The follow up may be a law suit against who ever made it public (not necessarily in the Wiki) if a breach of confidentiality was involved.
            • by Standmic (769361)
              There is a NYTimes article about the use of Wikipedia in the courts [nytimes.com] (It's a couple months old so it may be inaccessible to non-subscribers). From the article:

              More than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court.

              But, some of the examples the article gave have the court citing Wikipedia for the definition of "jungle juice" in one instance, and "booty music" in another, for which I feel Wikipedia is an approp

        • but why should we trust wikipedia less than any other site?

          For verifying the history of things that are worth money? Do you *really* need someone to answer this for you?
          • by xenocide2 (231786)
            Yes. I'd like you to explain to me why wikipedia is less authoritative than geocities. Good luck.
        • As long as we generally trust website citations...
          Who exactly would do that?
      • You'll note that I didn't say you couldn't learn anything from Wikipedia, but citing it (except on /.) is valueless.
      • as are citations from any encyclopedia. as a musician, i often find it amusing, when someone starts quoting grove or mgg at me, they are at times useful to get an overview, but because they are only compiled by a few people, there are often very obvious biases in the articles. wikipedia is better than these.

        there are a number of areas where wikipedia is the best secondary source of all. i doubt there are encyclopedias of computer technology or comic heroes which come anywhere near wikipedia's level. does
      • Disclaimer: I can understand which reasons may justifiy a text contained in a wiki not being considered useful or acceptable from a legal (positivist) point of view. [Although I try to disagree with such a point of view. And it is hard, for we live in a quite positivist world...]

        Nevertheless...

        [...] Wiki citations are most surely toilet paper, and not just from a legal POV.

        Why are they toilet paper? Because they come from a wiki? Or because their author and his credentials cannot be identified?

        Argui

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      On the other hand, if the technology you are trying to patent is already described on wikipedia, it is quite disingenious to claim that you are deserving of a 20-year monopoly. The whole premise of patents is that without the monopoly, the invention would not be publicized. Wikipedia is much more widely read than some niche publication like Journal of Interdisciplinary Tribology, which would count as a publication of prior art in the context of patent law.
    • by PyroMosh (287149) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:59AM (#18750567) Homepage
      Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.

      But there is no black or white here. Wikipedia is not apropriate for serious use, where it's important to be correct. But it's a massive quick and dirty database. If I want to know what X is and I've never heard of it, I can go to wikipedia and get an overview. If the authors did their due dilligence, I can find a decent collection of links off site that will tell me a bit abotu the subject matter.

      Wikipedia can be a useful tool. Just not for most important applications.

      Let's use a programming analogy. The "right" way to deploy a new application cross platform would be to code it in C or Java, or some other language apropriate to the task, and fine tune each version for each platform, and hunt for bugs on each platform. Annother, quick, relativly painless way, if it were an unimportant, trivial task, would be to just put together a web based Java applett, or perhaps even a flash object if it's simple enough. Hell, millions do this with YouTube, every day because it's "good enough". Even though an MPEG, MOV, AVI, or other video file played in a stand alone player would be "better".

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:05AM (#18750639) Homepage

        Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.

        Dude, I have no intention of goosling you. The only person I goosle is my wife.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.

          Dude, I have no intention of goosling you. The only person I goosle is my wife.

          Well by goosling your wife, you can only learn a little bit about her, depending on how well her prior contributors did their homework. If you really want to know more about your wife, you should go read some of the websites dedicated to her.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by boredguru (870469)

      'From a legal^W any point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,'
      So it it worth more than a SCO stock?
    • by Qzukk (229616)
      a Wiki citation is toilet paper

      Maybe so, but it's dated toilet paper, and if you claim to have invented something that I can find on Wikipedia dated years before you patented it, that should be admissible as prior art against your claim.
  • What (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:45AM (#18750375) Journal
    What is toilet paper?
  • by mixnblend (1002943) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:47AM (#18750405)

    From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper
    does that make the one click patent the excrement in this little analogy then?
    • No, the entire concept of software patents is the legal feces in this context.
      If the white-collar crime were any sweeter, 'twould be government itself!
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      [From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper] does that make the one click patent the excrement in this little analogy then?

      I've patented One Swipe wiping(TM). Cameras are being installed in stalls to verify royalty payments.
               
  • by Lockejaw (955650) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:51AM (#18750457)
    The headline directly says that Amazon plans to use the Web 2.0 Expo to defend the one-click patent.
    The summary speculates that Bezos might get called out over the one-click patent.
    The article says... wait... this isn't summarizing any article.

    So what's happened? Nothing new. What's going to happen? Very possibly nothing new.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrBugSentry (963105)
      A writeup that is totally inaccurate and furthers an agenda unrelated to the original article? On Slashdot??
  • RTFM, John Doll (Score:5, Informative)

    by saibot834 (1061528) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:54AM (#18750501) Homepage
    "The problem with Wikipedia is that it's constantly changing,"

    Just click on "Permanent link" and you will have a version that won't change. Or click on Cite this article.
    • Truth be told, any website can change at any time. However, there is an MLA and APA format to cite a website, which includes date accessed in case it does change.

      I think someone thought of this before wikipedia came along.
      • Hence the PERMANENT link. Unless Wikipedia shuts down entirely, that link will always point to the content of the page at the time it was retrieved. On the other hand, why you'd want to cite Wikipedia content (except to mock a particularly juicy block of prose) is beyond me.

        MLA and APA citations are worthless (even with the date) if you have no way of accessing the content as it was originally displayed. Who cares that you claim you accessed it on December 6th if it's now April and the site doesn't keep
  • by Otter (3800) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:55AM (#18750513) Journal
    The news news is that Jeff Bezos is giving a speech at an O'Reilly-sponsored conference about something having nothing to do with patents, and everything else in the blurb, from the title on down, is randomly thrown in by the submitter, correct?
    • by cubic6 (650758)

      The news news is that Jeff Bezos is giving a speech at an O'Reilly-sponsored conference about something having nothing to do with patents, and everything else in the blurb, from the title on down, is randomly thrown in by the submitter, correct?
      Correct, the submitter's just using his soapbox to reiterate a previous story about the patent.
  • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:56AM (#18750523)
    of the lawsuit? I thought the One-click was a good example of silly patents. Having it overturned is important now just so other people can "use similiar concepts" but in software in general. If to many of these silly patents get pushed through it will be impossible for any non-big-firm programmer to develop anything, else they'll be infringing on the "while() {}" patent.
  • by ThurlMakes7 (937619) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:57AM (#18750539)
    O'Reilly's behavior is truly despicable. Here's a guy who got rich promoting open source and intellectual property freedom. But as soon as he gets the chance to cuddle up to the IP holders, he sells out his principles.

    From the FTA:

    Millionaire tech publisher Tim O'Reilly once vowed to torpedo Amazon.com's 1-Click patent. Against a backdrop of widespread outrage over Amazon's aggressive use of the patent, O'Reilly created a contest to find prior art to undermine the IP claim, and thus invalidate the patent. However, O'Reilly quietly dropped the campaign; saying he would never disclose it because he trusted Amazon.com CEO Bezos not to use it.

    Following that cockle-warming tribute to his integrity, Bezos became a regular star turn at O'Reilly's web evangelism conferences. These days, O'Reilly's VC fund AlphaTech Ventures is supported by Bezos, and represented by the same firm of attorneys, Fenwick & West, which is defending Amazon.com against Peter Calveley.

    Never accuse these dot.com moguls of permitting ethics to stand in the way of getting rich.

    O'Reilly has the money and the influence to help strike out this dumb patent, but he chooses not to do so. It would be a nice irony if the USPTO threw it out because Tim's chum Jeff used Wikipedia. I'd laugh my fricking ass off.
    • Sometimes people have to pick their battles. Where would O'reilly be without a ubiquitous online retailer?
    • by chromatic (9471)

      O'Reilly has the money and the influence to help strike out this dumb patent...

      I won't defend the patent (it's the reason I do not do business with Amazon.com), but I do think you severely underestimate the amount of money and influence it would take to challenge that patent.

    • by dcam (615646)
      Don't forget Tim is also one of the creators of the phrase Web 2.0 (as well as being one of its strongest supporters). That makes him an idiot too.
  • by PatentMagus (1083289) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:03AM (#18750611)
    A wiki page is great if it is timestamped. A wiki page is a publication and can be used to establish prior art.

    The "patent expert" might as well have said The journal of machine intelligence and pattern recognition is toilet paper because the pages change from issue to issue.

    If archive.org could take an examiner, or anyone else, to a wiki version dated before the filing date of a patent, then I think it can be used to establish prior art.

    Even if the USPTO says it won't accept the wiki, a court could over rule them.

  • by Morgaine (4316) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:19AM (#18750833)
    From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,' quipped patent expert Greg Aharonian.

    And from any sane person's point of view, 99% of comments from patent experts are toilet paper, which is why we're in such a mess today.

    So, it's beautifully symmetric. Patent lawyers and Wikipedia were made for each other. :-)

    Although in Wikipedia's defence, it gets it right ***far*** more often. :-)

    In any case, Wikipedia can always be corrected, and very easily, that's the power of it. Whereas the only way of correcting a patent lawyer is with a lobotomy.
    • oh...I thought that was how you created a patent lawyer...
    • Greg Aharonian is actually not a lawyer but a searcher that specializes in busting patents and exposing corruption and incompetence at the U.S. Patent Office. So, he is exactly the type of person /. should like. Greg's site is www.bustpatents.com.
    • Well, ok, now are you saying that something written on a public wiki should be accepted as legal evidence?

      Or are you just making fun of him? Because if it is the latter, go on.

      • by Eivind (15695)
        Sometimes -- sure.

        For example, if you claimed to have copyrigth on a certain text, but the same text could demonstrably be found on Wikipedia at a point *before* you claimed to have written it, thats pretty clear evidence that you're lying.

        One shouldn't, offcourse, on the other hand assume something to be true just because Wikipedia says so. But this is true for any other source too, and something courts deal with all the time.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday April 16, 2007 @12:09PM (#18751573) Homepage Journal
    I was just reading the book "On the Edge", which is about Commodore's rise and fall. The silly "Xor cursor" patent lawsuit may be what finished them off. Commodore survived a slump in 1986 and may have also survived its 1993 slump if not for the Xor patent suit. Although the issues were complicated, the Xor lawsuit may have been what put it over the edge. If Commodore survived a few years longer to about 1996, then the shere money wave of the web boom may have kept them alive to try again with more products and an updated Amiga that was on the drawing boards.
    • by texaport (600120)
      1980 -- When you couldn't win in the marketplace, you tried to win in the courts.
      1990 -- Put out a cheaper version of what your competition has (even if stupid).
      2000 -- $1000 spent on advertising and marketing is better than $1000 spent on R&D.
      2006 -- Take it to the court system. $10,000 for lawyers is the best business ROI.

  • by pecosdave (536896) on Monday April 16, 2007 @01:13PM (#18752445) Homepage Journal
    I am happy to say I have never once bought a single thing from Amazon.com. Their patent bullshittery is the reason. Fine, eBay/Half.com isn't necessarily run by angels, but they aren't going ape-shit on patents either. I do reference Amazon quite a bit, if I could find a better place that has tech specs and info on nearly any product I would use it, but epinions doesn't quite reach that level, at least I don't send them money.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Amazon one-click patent is not a bad patent for the the following reasons:

    1. It was filed in 1997, and its subject matter may have been invented even a while before then. When you look at whether at patent is obvious or not, you have to look at it at the time of invention. Of course it's obvious, after it's been used for a decade. Do you remember what the Internet was like in 1997? Was it obvious in 1997? Probably not.

    2. It does not claim every single kind of e-commerce involving single-clicking. Here's
    • Hey, that's good information. Have you considered contributing to the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-Click [wikipedia.org] ?
    • by Acer500 (846698)
      I still believe it is a bad patent.

      Let's suppose they really were the first to make the (tiny) leap of logic of "I have the customer information, credit card, item information, all in my database, but I'm asking for confirmation item by item. Let's tie all of this in one step instead of the (n) steps we were making before"

      If anything, the real feat is making the customer comfortable enough with Amazon to trust them with buying in one click (I don't like that, I'd rather confirm my purchases), the amount
  • by Chacham (981)
    One things i really, really, really like about Amazon are the comments. For the most part, good and bad are there. Censoring is left to inappropiate or off-topic remarks. B&N, however, remove all negative remarks.

    If Amazon messes up here and there, i don't care much. They offer an excellent service.

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