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USPTO Examiner Rejected 1-Click Claims As "Obvious" 195

Posted by kdawson
from the well-duh dept.
theodp writes "Faced with a duly unimpressed USPTO examiner who rejected its new 1-Click patent claims as 'obvious' and 'old and well known,' Amazon has taken the unusual step of requesting an Oral Appeal to plead its case. And in what might be interpreted by some as an old-fashioned stalling tactic, the e-tailer has also canceled and refiled its 1-Click claims in a continuation application. As it touted the novelty of 1-Click to Congress last spring, Amazon kept the examiner's rejection under its hat, insisting that 'still no [1-Click] prior art has surfaced.' The Judiciary Committee hearing this testimony included Rick Boucher (VA) and Howard Berman (CA), both recipients of campaign contributions from a PAC funded by 1-Click inventor Jeff Bezos, other Amazon execs, and their families."
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USPTO Examiner Rejected 1-Click Claims As "Obvious"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:17AM (#19126587)
    Probably 99% of patents where computers do work that could be done tediously and manually should be shot down.
    • by fmstasi (659633) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:46AM (#19127033)
      No, all software patents should be shot down. Patents should only be given to inventions which operate in the physical world — mechanical devices, tools, electronic equipment, and so on. Patenting software is (more or less) patenting algorithms, and therefore to patenting mathematics; on the other hand, research works much better if information is shared freely. Also, software is already covered by copyright, so protecting it with patents also is overkill. Also... well, there are many reasons why software patents are a terrible idea. Everybody with an interest more than casual in the subject whould get familiar with the arguments given in http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/ [nosoftwarepatents.com].
      • by dosquatch (924618) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:18AM (#19127697) Journal

        A computer is a general-purpose machine. A computer's purpose is to process an organized collection of instructions to do a specific thing. These instructions are called "software". A computer without software is a doorstop. Patenting a particular collection of instructions (even if they do something really, really interesting) is, in effect, patenting the use of a thing for its intended purpose.

        It would be akin to patenting "a method for dialling my phone number" and then going after royalties every time my phone rings. Or "a method for using an automobile to get to work" and suing everyone in rushhour traffic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by crc32 (133399)
          Under your logic, nothing at all could be patented. After all, a gear is an "instruction" for the conversion or translation of angular motion. All machines are merely sets of instructions, at some level of abstraction. Patents are designed to cover the use of things. See section 101 of the patent act. PS: This is not to say that software patents are good/bad for other reasons.
          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by dosquatch (924618)

            Under your logic, nothing at all could be patented.

            This may be showing my hand a bit, but I don't think that would bother me. I am not an advocate for completely abolishing patents, though such folks do exist. I'm more of an agnostic on the point.

            After all, a gear is an "instruction" for the conversion or translation of angular motion. All machines are merely sets of instructions, at some level of abstraction.

            Oh, come off it. This is the most tortured argument - look, at some level of abstraction, I am a walrus. KooKooKachoo. At some level of detail, I am not. I suppose you have trouble distinguishing a real car from a Gran Turismo disc?

            • by ancientt (569920) <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @09:15AM (#19128841) Homepage Journal

              Level of abstraction? Okay, explain how you're a walrus.

              Software patents make as much sense as mechanical patents because both cover how to change something in one state to something that might be more useful in a different state. The usefulness of the patent is up for debate as it would be in any new industry, as is the innovation. The debatable questions are whether the innovation that goes into creating something that is novel in software deserves a patent, and whether allowing patents in software is good for society. Once those questions are sufficiently answered there will always be the secondary questions of a particular patent's worthiness, but it will be far easier to answer.

              • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

                by dosquatch (924618)

                Level of abstraction? Okay, explain how you're a walrus.

                That's just it. I'm not. I was being snippy at this statement: All machines are merely sets of instructions, at some level of abstraction.

                So, let's have it. Program your computer into a spinning wheel. No mechanical apparatus, just pound away at those keys until it starts spitting out yarn. I'll give you as long as you want. Hell, I'll sit in the mall under a neon sign that says "I am the walrus" knitting you a sweater out of that yarn if you can do it. (I fully expect I'll never have to learn to knit)

                B

              • no patents should exist where the patent does not involve an actual physical object so any pure process/program patent should be thrown out

                if you can't throw it you can't patent it (larger objects you would use a crane)
          • by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @08:54AM (#19128661) Journal
            That argument doesn't quite hold up.

            Discrete machine elements are the means to execute an instruction, not the instruction itself.

            The gear or linkage is the element that enables execution of the instructions and should be patentable. The speed, position or displacement of the gear is the instruction and should not be patentable. To get a different output for the same input, you must alter the elements to the extent that it can no longer be considered the same device. Unique devices can qualify for a patent.

            The transistor is the element that enables execution of instructions and should be patentable. The state of charge on a transistor is the instruction and should not be patentable. To get a different output for the same input, you need only change the state of charge on the transistors* - but the physical state of the machine is identical.

            The important distinction is the seperation of the physical device and it's purpose from the conditions it operates under. Two devices that serve the same purpose but are physically unique should be patentable. Two devices that are physically identical but used for different purposes should be patentable.** Altering the operating conditions of the same device to get a different result is obvious and should not be patentable.

            =Smidge=

            * - Does not count things like a new circuit design, which would produce a unique device and thus be patentable.

            ** - Providing that new use is not particularly "obvious."
            • by niiler (716140)

              Mod parent up! This is an extremely profound statement:

              The transistor is the element that enables execution of instructions and should be patentable. The state of charge on a transistor is the instruction and should not be patentable. To get a different output for the same input, you need only change the state of charge on the transistors* - but the physical state of the machine is identical.

              In a more general sense, one could say that a glass is patentable (presuming that they hadn't existed for thousan

      • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:25AM (#19127723)

        No, all software patents should be shot down. Patents should only be given to inventions which operate in the physical world.

        Software can operate in the physical world. That's why the USPTO started allowing software patents in 1981. Anyways, I like the europeean take on software patents, which says that "any invention which makes a non-obvious "technical contribution" or solves a "technical problem" in a non-obvious way is patentable even if a computer program is used in the invention." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent#In_Eu rope [wikipedia.org]

        I just don't see anyone can be against that.

        • by fmstasi (659633) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:46AM (#19127833)
          Well, that's the beauty of Wikipedia: I read the section of the article you quoted, and in this case I don't trust the author. Here is the text of the cited Article 52 (http://www.european-patent-office.org/legal/epc/e /ar52.html):

          Article 52
          Patentable inventions
          (1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions which are susceptible of industrial application, which are new and which involve an inventive step.
          (2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:
          (a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
          (b) aesthetic creations;
          (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
          (d) presentations of information.
          (3) The provisions of paragraph 2 shall exclude patentability of the subject-matter or activities referred to in that provision only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such.
          (4) Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body shall not be regarded as inventions which are susceptible of industrial application within the meaning of paragraph 1. This provision shall not apply to products, in particular substances or compositions, for use in any of these methods.

          So, "programs for computers" (and algorithms, mind you) are not patentable, period. IF you use a program for computers in a LARGER system, the system as a whole is (maybe) patentable. The point is not whether you solve a "technical problem" with the program; what else could you be doing, turning the computer's fingers?...
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by kthejoker (931838)
            It means if you invent a new automated welder, which relies on computer input to produce its output (but also does the actual welding), then this program in tandem with the welder would be considered a patentable device.

            It basically means that just because something uses a computer program doesn't mean it's *not* patentable. It's something you have to think about for a second, but it makes sense. It lets people patent things like ATMs, printers, and electronic parking meters.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by fmstasi (659633)
              Right. It also means that you are patenting the device, not the program; so, if you patent an innovative device, which uses an innovative program, the program itself is not patented.
              In theory, at least.
        • by dosquatch (924618) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @08:05AM (#19128257) Journal

          That's why the USPTO started allowing software patents in 1981.

          Technically, they didn't. Software is not, nor has it ever been, patentable as software. Software patents all come in under the ruling that allows business methods to be patented. That's why they all begin "A method for [...]" and go to such lingual gymnastics to avoid using the word "algorithm" ever.

          It might seem that this point is splitting a hair, but this happens to be a very important hair.

          • by AVee (557523)
            And business methods should not be patentable either, and AFAIK they aren't patentable in europe either. You guys in the US should target the patenting of business methods and kill software patents in the process.

            That, and you should find a way to stop the patenting of stupid, useless, obvious and unoriginal things. Because thats the biggest problem with patents, patenting software would be far far far less devastating if it wasn't possible to patent obvious things and if it wasn't possible to patent oth
      • by bl8n8r (649187)
        > No, all software patents should be shot down. > Patents should only be given to inventions which operate in the physical world I agree, but it's too late to change the books now. There are a lot of US companies with zillions of dollars invested in their patent claims. Do you really expect the USPTO to say "Ok, we see now. All these software patents are mathematical algorithms and cannot be patented. Null and void everybody."? Besides, Microsoft has been buying them up like cheap hookers for th
      • by neoform (551705)
        Why is patenting Algorithms/Mathematics any different than patenting Methods/Actions?
      • by rbanffy (584143)
        Not really.

        Or main concern is not with software patents but with bad patents that should never be granted the first time.

        One click shopping works by using cookies for their intended purpose - to maintain state during and across browsing sessions. This should never be considered original. On the USPTO's defense, we should consider how clueless everybody but a few were on the ins and outs of the web.

        One click shopping should not even be considered particularly clever. They got there first because they were pr
      • by Joe Decker (3806)
        When the rule you suggest was the case, patenting software was easily handled by patenting the combination of a device with the underlying software. See, for example, US 4,490,811, [freepatentsonline.com] which in essence patents not the software of the "proximity theta" algorithm but simply any electronic circuit running said algorithm. My point is merely that you will find the line between a "software patent" and a "hardware patent" difficult to enforce a clear line around.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Laur (673497)

        Also, software is already covered by copyright, so protecting it with patents also is overkill.
        Even worse, software can (and frequently is in the US) protected by copyright, trade secret, and patents, all at the same time. In addition, vendors try to restrict your rights even further by draconian licenses. Overkill indeed.
  • wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:18AM (#19126591) Homepage
    'still no [1-Click] prior art has surfaced.'

    How can something surface when you're actively trying to drown it?
    • Re:wtf? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:25AM (#19126643)
      09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      They may be trying that, but there's been lots of cases where users are to click an area of a web page. :-p
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You want prior art for 1 click? What about those old-style vending machines - you only had to press the button once to get the chocolate bar or can of soda. I say old-style because the new ones need 98 keypresses and a working knowledge of XML to get anything out of them. I guess that's progress.
      • by julesh (229690)
        You want prior art for 1 click? What about those old-style vending machines - you only had to press the button once to get the chocolate bar or can of soda.

        What they didn't do was remember your credit card details to charge you on and recognise you via a token that you presented back to them as identification when you wanted to complete a transaction. These are important parts of Amazon's patent that would have to be present for something to be prior art. #

        I thought when you mentioned vending machines tha
        • by Trails (629752)

          Couldn't the credit card be considered the token? Technically, it amounts to the same information: who to charge.

          • by julesh (229690)
            I don't think so. If a different token is used instead of the credit card there's an extra level of indirection, and that seems to me to make a substantial difference to the nature of the invention.
  • by burris (122191) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:24AM (#19126635)
    Back in '95 or '96. We all thought it was so plainly obvious. In fact, the key thing that makes one-click shopping possible, the browser cookie, was put into the browser specifically for the purpose of associating a browser/session with stored data on the back end (payment/shipping details, purchase list.) The reason nobody did it is because engineers thought it was a BAD IDEA. Forcing people to enter their credit card and billing address details was a form of SECURITY. Being able to purchase things with one click was just too easy. Someone could come up to your computer and ring up a bunch of charges. Keeping payment details for thousands of customers on your computer was deemed too large a risk. It wasn't until the Marketeers at Amazon thought this was a good idea that it came about.

    However, I think the fact that the cookie support was already in the browser is proof that the claims of the patent were obvious.
    • by catbutt (469582) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:30AM (#19126665)
      Well if what you say is true, no one should really complain if no one but Amazon can do it. After all, its a bad idea.

      Just sayin'.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by heinousjay (683506)
        ...and the fox turned as he walked away, muttering "damn grapes were probably sour anyway."
      • This patent is not the point. Software patents in general are the point. Especially those which are so patently obvious that any examiner who deems it patentable should be taken out and shot.
        • Is "1-click purchasing" even a software patent? I would think that it would be considered a business process patent. A "software design to implement 1-click purchasing" would be a software patent (and would be easily avoidable by developing a different software design to implement 1-click purchasing; the beauty of software is there's a million different ways to do anything).
      • by el americano (799629) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:42AM (#19127553) Homepage
        I tried this feature once. My order was promptly shipped to a prior address. I guess there's more than one reason to have an intermediate step before confirming the order.

        One click is now turned off for me.
        I wonder if that's part of the patent, "AND you can turn it off. Oooooh."

        • by bangzilla (534214)
          No - your order was not shipped to a prior address. It was shipped to the address that you had defined as being your current address. Just 'cos you used the system incorrectly does not make it a bad system.
      • I live at a software patent free land. And I've never saw a 1 click buy on any shop but Amazon. It is a bad idea.

        Prople are probably bothered because they elected that patent to represent all absurd software patents. It's a symbol, it's so obviously wrong that they can point at it and complain.

      • Well if what you say is true, no one should really complain if no one but Amazon can do it. After all, its a bad idea.

        The point is that such a patent would give Amazon the right to sue any other merchant who is deemed by Amazon to infringe on their patent. Because "1 click" is so simple and obvious, any vendor who uses a simple and obvious method for submitting web orders would be open to harrassment by Amazon. In effect, Amazon could argue that "Vendor x has a simple and obvious method for ordering stuf

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Forcing people to enter their credit card and billing address details was a form of SECURITY.

      It seems you're using security as an argument against implementing 1-click. If thats the case, the argument isn't very well thought out. Even without 1-click, most sites offer to save your credit card and billing address, so it's just a matter of selecting which credit card to use without typing it in again. Furthermore, if someone comes up to your computer and rings up a bunch of stuff with 1-click, (a) the stuf

      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:24AM (#19127469)

        So it seems your reasons for not pioneering 1-click have more to do with saving credit/billing information on your own supposedly secure server rather than with the idea of 1-click itself. I don't see how that translates to 1-click being a BAD IDEA.
        Um. Because 1 click requires one to store the credit card information in database.

        OK, try to follow me here. If it's not a great idea to store credit card information in a potentially [bbc.co.uk]exploitable database [washingtonpost.com] and 1-click requires said store of credit card information in said http://news.com.com/2100-1023-236815.html [com.com]">exploit able database it follows that 1-click is a bad idea.

        This is what is often called logic.

         
        • by julesh (229690)
          1 click requires one to store the credit card information in database.

          Only in as much as the credit card information must be stored in a database somewhere /anyway/. Many payment service providers (i.e., the people who keep your card on their database whatever the vendor does with it) offer a repeat billing service. They're not hard to use. I have never heard of a reputable payment service provider being hacked.
        • by sheldon (2322)
          You must be new to the internet.

          Most e-commerce sites already store your billing information with your account. That's what he is saying.
        • by anothy (83176) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:43AM (#19130077) Homepage

          This is what is often called logic.
          sigh. yes, it's often called that.

          in logical terms, your argument is valid, but unsound; that is, at least one of the premises is untrue. specifically, you assert that "1-click requires said store of credit card information in said exploitable database", and your (mis-)linked example indicates that "said" database is a vendor's. that is not in any way required for 1-click to work. in common practice in online shopping sites generally, 1-click or no, the credit card number is sent one time to the CC processor, who responds with a unique key that the vendor uses in subsequent transactions. that key, not the CC number, is then stored in the database and used for subsequent transactions. the number is useless to anyone other than the initial vendor, thus eliminating the financial exposure to customers if the vendor's database is cracked.

          it's tempting to point out that this practice, which is generally considered best practice in the payments inudstry, simply shifts the burden from the vendor to the processor. this is untrue; instead, it reduces the exposure. the CC processor has this anyway; we're simply reducing the burden on the vendor. if the fact that the processor stores the information bothers you, then your argument is against credit/debit cards in general, not 1-click (and it'd be a reasonable argument to make; the entire system is frighteningly fragile).
        • by allanc (25681)
          Actually, this isn't true.

          When you make a transaction through a credit processor online, the system can store a reference number that can then be used to make other transactions. Therefore, if the database is compromised, the attacker only gets these reference numbers which (a) require a VeriSign merchant account to use and (b) can be easily voided without having to void the credit card number as a whole.

          (I write billing software for a living)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by seanadams.com (463190) *
      The reason nobody did it is because engineers thought it was a BAD IDEA.

      I think the 1-click patent is a crock for many reasons, but to play devils advocate here: this point actually undermines the obvious argument, because it suggests that people in the field thought it could not be done. When prior art teaches _away_ from doing something in a particular way, and the patent in question finds a way to "make it work" in spite of that, then the solution is likely to be deemed non-obvious. From the Teleflex rul
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mysidia (191772)

        The reason nobody did it is because engineers thought it was a BAD IDEA. I think the 1-click patent is a crock for many reasons, but to play devils advocate here: this point actually undermines the obvious argument, because it suggests that people in the field thought it could not be done. When prior art teaches _away_ from doing something in a particular way, and the patent in question finds a way to "make it work" in spite of that, then the solution is likely to be deemed non-obvious. From the Teleflex

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by decsnake (6658)


          Certainly Amazon does not advertise one-click can possibly pose a security risk, despite the fact that it may.

          d'ya think that the fact that its not on by default might be a hint to folks that its not secure? And that they know it?

    • "I remember hearing about the 1 click patent. Back in '95 or '96. We all thought it was so plainly obvious."

      So, basically, Amazon has had 11 years of patent protection by delaying final action on the patent application? I've heard that Amazon has been vigorously defending its "property", and scaring away people who implement the same thing without realizing it is the object of litigation.

      At a time of unprecedented corruption in the U.S. government, Jeff Bezos is vigorously trying to corrupt the govern
  • by Wizarth (785742) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:24AM (#19126637) Homepage
    "No prior art" is being waved about as being the only significant aspect, and they are hoping no-one realizes the patent was rejected due to being obvious (or, not non-obvious).

    As prior art is the usual counter-argument to patents, since it can be clearly proven to someone without expertise in the field, it seems unusual that one has actually been rejected due to being obvious. And since people are so used to hearing about prior art being the significant factor, it may sway a few people.
    • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:36AM (#19126697) Homepage
      True in the past, but the tides have started to turn as of the Teleflex ruling. Obviousness has for a long time been very difficult to show because the courts had used a too rigid definition. However, SCOTUS has said that merely using components in a way that their combination yields only the expected result could be sufficient, and has also encouraged the use of "common sense" in determining obviousness, as opposed to the very narrow test. I hope to see a lot more BS patents like this invalidated in the coming years.
    • by asninn (1071320)
      Indeed - mod parent up! Prior art is sufficient to invalidate a patent, but it's in no way necessary.
  • Prior art or not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:29AM (#19126661)
    If something is SO obvious that any moron can come up with it, it deserves no patent.

    Patents exist so investition in research and development can be reimbused. If you have no expense for research and development, you deserve no patent.
    • Re:Prior art or not (Score:5, Informative)

      by seanadams.com (463190) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:33AM (#19126975) Homepage
      If something is SO obvious that any moron can come up with it, it deserves no patent.

      Actually it is even broader than that. A patent is considered obvious if not merely a moron, but even someone having ordinary skill in the relevant field, could have been expected to come up with the same solution.

      Patents exist so investition in research and development can be reimbused.

      Not quite. They exist to encourage invention, by securing the inventors exclusive right to produce his inventions. If the inventor happens to have some sunk costs then he might be better able to recover them by having a patent, but that is incidental.

      If you have no expense for research and development, you deserve no patent.

      So what if an idea comes by a stroke of pure genius?
      • Actually the idea is (or at least should be) that patent should be awarded to those ideas that will require some amount of research to re-search it. If an idea is so obvious that you (being an expert in the field) don't need to spend a few months searching for it then there is no case for patenting it.

        Obviously a person hitting on an idea just by a stroke of genius is still covered because another expert in the same field without the stroke of genius would still need to spend a few months of effort to find
      • One click is an interesting case. It is certainly the kind of thing someody would consider in streamlining the checkout process.

        The thing that makes it interesting is that it has dubious utility.

        The one click patent is not quite as dreadful as the "do X which has been done forever but over a wireless network" patents, but it shares features with them. It's really the Internet which gave this trivial idea any life at all.

        It is class of problem one click represents that is the problem: business patents. One
      • by asninn (1071320)

        So what if an idea comes by a stroke of pure genius?

        Then you still have to flesh it out into an actual invention - the devil, as usual, will be in the details. An overall idea of how to accomplish something is good, but it's not enough for an invention, and certainly isn't/shouldn't be enough for a patent.

        Use medicine, for example. If you're a biochemist working for a large drug company, maybe you'll think "hey, why don't we use substance X to achieve effect Y, which would cure disease Z" some day, bu

    • Re:Prior art or not (Score:5, Informative)

      by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @04:36AM (#19127229) Homepage
      Patents exist so investition in research and development can be reimbused
      no they exist (at least under the american system) primerally to discourage trade secrets. You give your invention to the public in exchange for getting a time limited (and unlike copyrights patent time limits havn't exactly spiraled out of control) monopoly on the invention. Whether your idea is the result of years of R&D or a stroke of genius isn't really relavent.

      sadly the system has been abused in a number of ways
      1: obviousness: many patents give soloutions that would be obvious when presented with the problem. This means that next time someone runs into that problem they either have to pay the patent holder a license fee (if the patent holder will even accept one), take the legal risk of ignoring the patent or try and find a less obvious (and possiblly less efficiant) soloution to the same problem.
      2: prior art: again the system has been very poor at recognising prior art leading to people getting and keeping patents for things that are already public.
      3: areas patentable: a number of new areas (software, buisness methods) were made patentable by court descisions bypassing the normal procedures of governement. Now other countries are being pressured into making those things patentable as well. The lack of patented prior art (which is all the PTO seems to care about) means theese areas suffer from 1 and 2 far more than other areas.
      • by MartinB (51897)

        You give your invention to the public in exchange for getting a time limited (and unlike copyrights patent time limits havn't exactly spiraled out of control) monopoly on the invention.

        True, the time limit hasn't been as problematic as for copyrights. However, relative to the purpose, the time limit has spiraled out of control.

        The pace of technological change has significantly shrunk the commercially viable time period of any given IT innovation, particularly in software. For all useful purposes, the Patent

    • by bangzilla (534214)
      It's easy in hindsight to say "that's so obvious". At the time it was *not* obvious (ah, how swiftly we forget...) Use the wayback machine to look at other eCommerce sites from the same timeframe when Amazon implemented one-click. To say they are a joke is being unkind to jokes.... Did you know that someone has the copyright on the song "Happy Birthday" - but...but...but it's so *obvious* - yeah, well someone wrote it. So pay up your royalies.
  • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:37AM (#19126699) Journal
    Expect more applications to get section 103 [cornell.edu] "obviousness" rejections, in the wake of KSR v. Teleflex [patentlyo.com].
  • by aimless (311570) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:40AM (#19126723)
    Nothing Mentioned here is out of the ordinary. All applications are rejected at least once...if it is not rejected your council has done something terribly wrong and drawn narrow-scope claims that will not yield any protection or competitive advantage. Cancellation and continuation are standard strategy as well. It would be more interesting to find that they were given a divisional; implying validity.

    I thought the one-click patent was brought to its knees by the /. community riding on the back of an old ski-lift ticket system as prior art.

    -A
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:59AM (#19126833)
      Mostly correct and I am glad someone said it, but ... minor point
      It would be more interesting to find that they were given a divisional; implying validity.
      Actually a divisional (aka a restriction requirement) says absolutely nothing about validity. What it says is you have a lot of claims in your application and the Examiner isn't going to be bothered to look at all of them. Split the application into multiple applications (so the Examiner gets more points, and the PTO more money) and then they'll look at the claims.

      Yes, pretty much everything gets a 103 (obvious) rejection. Sometimes this only means your Examiner put all your key words into a search engine and cited 5 unrelated pieces of prior art against you (i.e. the lazy Examiner). Sometimes, the 103 is well done. Merely telling me you have a 103 rejection tells me little.

      A continuation isn't a stalling tactic. It is a way to get better claims with the same filing date as the original, but after getting a look at the cited prior art. Perfectly normal. In fact, you often use a continuation with a "bird in the hand" strategy. You take the claims the Examiner allows in the parent application (which then issue as a patent), and then continue to argue the unallowed claims in the continuation. There is no stalling. Actually, a continuation is quicker than an appeal.

      I am glad to see an Examiner taking Official Notice. They do it rarely and even more rarely do it correctly. There is a correct way to take Official Notice and so few Examiner's follow it.

      Also the Oral Hearing in the Appeal is unusual, but something they are allowed by right. What is usual is waiving that right and just not showing up. But if Amazon has DC based attorneys, the PTO is just down the road.
      • by BLKMGK (34057)
        I have to admit to feeling just a bit creeped out by how much thought obviously goes into gaming the Patent system just based on the previous two postings. Yes, I understand why getting rejected for obviousness is expected - you want to make claims as broad as possible and only narrow them when forced to do so. However by doing so it's also obvious why the Patent Office is so overworked and buried in applications - submitters are gaming the system by forcing multiple examinations ni order to get the broades
  • Boucher no slouch (Score:3, Informative)

    by GigsVT (208848) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:44AM (#19126751) Journal
    That jab at Boucher is probably unfounded. He's definitely concerned about "IP" laws run amok, contributions notwithstanding.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CptNerd (455084)
      This is Slashdot, where you can be praised to the stars one week and subject to "Two Minute Hate" the next. As far as contributions go, the conventional "wisdom" is that they always corrupt, no exceptions. Therefore, we should only elect people who have enough money to afford the election. Wait, no, we should never allow people to contribute to campaigns. No, wait, wait, we should only allow campaign contributions from the "right" people. Hm, well, we should all be taxed to pay for anyone and everyone
  • Same trick? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Woodpeckeruk (1098697)
    Amazon tried the same trick at the EPO (see IPKat post here [blogspot.com]), and got the application kicked out.
  • There is prior art (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jkechel (1101181) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:56AM (#19126819)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Crisis [wikipedia.org] .. this game is from 1993, and you can buy in-game things with only one click. DONE
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      Hahaha... That is just win. I'm sure there are plenty more games than that one that demonstrate 'prior art' as well.

      I mean really, can someone tell me when we've been able to patent stupid things like using mouse clicks and moving a mouse around the keyboard, etc... This is probably one of the poster child for why software patents should not be permitted.
    • So did the Jetsons (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cheekyboy (598084)
      Somehow I guess the IT geeks that write the patents forget that they got their ideas as 5 year olds watching the Jetsons and seeing
      them buy stuff on a 200inch plasma screen using voice recognition to the virtual shopping channel.

      A TV show can be prior art as it showcases the concept and idea perfectly so that even a 5 year old can understand it let alone a CEO earning $6m dollars.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by subreality (157447)
      Please RTFP. One-click isn't just "buy stuff with one click", and I'm tired of hearing people rail on it without at least understanding what it is.

      The patent's claims are specifically for storing payment and shipping information so that a one-click transaction can be done. It's a narrow scope, and I don't think anyone has shown prior art for the limited situations it applies to. So IMO Amazon did invent *something*.

      What I think needs to be questioned is if that specific, limited scope is significant and
      • by jkechel (1101181)
        I know that the patent has a narrow scope, that's exactly why I proposed a browser-based game as prior art:
        1. its under control of a client
        2. provides information about the item (you can see what you want to buy including a descriptive name)
        3. only one action, that's the 1-click, by simply clicking on that item (also known in many many newer games like Command&Conquer where you buy&build by one click on a item)
        4. organising further informations about the user -> that's keeping track of you curren
    • by Dausha (546002)
      Yes, a work of fiction has described a technological innovation. However, fiction is not considered relevant for prior art. Among other things, it does not describe something in sufficient detail to educate the reader how it works. Try getting a Star Trek transporter to work. Second, it's fiction, so it's not "credible." However, as we see from flip phones, it does inspire engineers.
  • "Put it on my tab" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dfoulger (1044592) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:05AM (#19126857) Homepage
    One-click has been around as long as bartenders have been extending credit to known customers, but I suppose you can't see prior art rising when its obscured by a head of foam.

    • by o'reor (581921)
      C'mon, parent deserves better than a "Funny" mod. This really has some insight.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There was a company (And still is) that had a patent on using the "*" and "#" key on your phone, but, only when calling Directory Assistance. Called "Metro One" (NASDAQ:INFO if they aren't delisted).

      Now, if Obvious was somehow forgotten in the world of telephony, I don't know what is in the rest of the world. But they had the patent based on "business process". How is using the * key different for a person calling 411 vs calling the local Energy company, or their own PBX? I don't know.

      But, they actuall
    • by niceone (992278) *
      I don't know if you were going for funny, but as you got insightful... it might seem logical, but it is not how the patent system works. An idea in on field that is well know can be patented when applied to another field. For instance, if there was some well known technique used in tape drives and you thought of a way to use it in disc drives, you could patent that.
    • No, you clank your glass for a new beer... that's the one-clank purchase method.

      This patent is for one-click purchasing, which is an entirely new idea. Honest.
  • I don't like it one bit but this rejection will be overturned. The judges look at the record as a whole to determine if the examiner made a prima facie (on the face) case for obviousness. He does quite a bit of saying "it's obvious" with no reasons. The appeals board will have no choice but to tell the examiner to try again with a different strategy.
  • Well before the dawn of the Internet people had accounts set up with suppliers and all the needed to do was phone them up (ie: connect to the website), ask them if they had the product (ie: search) and then say: "I'll take it". The supplier would know where to ship it and where to get the money from.

    If that isn't so close to one click shopping it would invalidate the patent, then I don't know what is...
    • The reason that doesn't apply is in your first sentence. It doesn't use the internet, which is both a necessary and a sufficient condition for anything to be novel and patentable. Didn't you get the memo?
      • by daBass (56811)
        LOL, yeah I got the memo...

        But it's not fair!

        Well, burst.com's patents didn't use the internet and somehow they seem to have a case. It should work both ways with prior art too, shouldn't it?

        Oh well, like I really care...
  • by johnny cashed (590023) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:56AM (#19127597) Homepage
    Mr. Examiner,

    I'd like to introduce you to our spokeslawyer, Heidi. She is ready to meet with you for her oral appeal.
  • by supersnail (106701) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:23AM (#19127719)
    In much the same way that script kiddies and east european phishers all know how to hack PCs. All of corporate America knows how to hack congress.

    Most hacks require only simple tools: PACs, straight contibutions, that important meeting with the lobbyist that needed to be in the lobby of a Hawian hotel.

    Some hacks require more subtle tools: "Where was I gonna site that factory - remind me?", "You know if you ever get tired of congress and want a real job.", "I have absolutly no control over the editors of my newspaper/TV station if they print bad things about you thats tough."

    It happens so regularly it doesnt even raise eyebrows anymore. So Bezos will probably lose his patents until congress changes the law so he can get them back.

    Wouldnt it be much more efficient and simpler to introduce a "pay per vote" system. Represenitives could auction of votes on e-bay, and, the house seat themselves could be auctioned by the higest bidder. (This is a varation on tax farming which served to Ottoman empire well for 600 years).

    The sad thing is that while all this malarky is going on Wolfowitz and Bolten are lecturing the rest of the world about the evils of corruption.
     
    • Wouldnt it be much more efficient and simpler to introduce a "pay per vote" system. Represenitives could auction of votes on e-bay, and, the house seat themselves could be auctioned by the higest bidder. (This is a varation on tax farming which served to Ottoman empire well for 600 years).

      There's an actual serious reason not to, stemming from political choice theory. When you make "political rents" (i.e. ability to extract easy personal cash as a result of political power) too obvious and direct, that incr
  • by joe_n_bloe (244407) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:07AM (#19127917) Homepage
    Corporations have never determined the direction of the patent system. Corporations are legally and ethically bound to pursue business practices that are in the interests of shareholders. When the software patent genie was let out of the bottle in the 1980s, software companies had absolutely no option except to pursue their own patents vigorously.

    Amazon has never done the wrong thing by pursuing the "one-click" patent. Patents, especially software patents, are interpreted very narrowly. What sounds to a layman as a "patent on online sales" (for example) turns out to be much more specific in print, and more importantly has been interpreted very narrowly by Federal courts. You can't patent the process of online sales, but you can patent a detail of it. When a court sets out to determine the validity of such a detail, it doesn't examine it in the context of "is it a logical implementation of a larger, obvious system." The court sets out to determine whether it is a detail that someone else has used. Basically, as the law has been interpreted for the past two decades, whether something has already been patented is the greatest determining factor on whether it can be patented. That isn't how a layperson reads the law, and in fact it is probably contrary to the intent of the law. But that's how it is.

    The US Supreme Court has indicated an interest in changing the interpretation of software and process patents so that courts must interpret patents and patent applications in a way that sounds more in the spirit of the law. I don't think most conventional companies oppose this, because the expense and uncertainty involved in patent applications, cross-licensing, and God forbid, litigation, is considerable. Patent holding firms are probably distressed about it, but I think most people perceive patent holding companies as an aberration.

    The fact that Amazon has its "one-click" patent means that Amazon was doing the right thing as far as the system is concerned. It also means that the system is counterintuitive and, a majority of people probably think, out of whack with the original intent of US patent law.
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:50AM (#19128155)
      Get your head out of your ass for a moment.

      Just because something is legal and possible does NOT make it 'right'. If it was found that it was legal to kill people by some method, does that make it right for everyone to kill everyone they can by that method? Too extreme? How about a corporation that takes advantage of the tax system to pay as almost no taxes, so that everyone else has to pay their share? How about police that run reds lights in their cars because it's legal for them to, even when they don't have the need? How about a teacher that hands out religious pamphlets right outside the school grounds? How about someone standing outside a playground and screaming at the children?

      I bet I just hit on the sensibilities of most of the people that read this. There's plenty of examples of things that are totally legal, but not 'right' in any way.

      Amazon may be within their rights to attempt to patent this, but that does not mean they are 'doing the right thing' in any way shape or form. Amazon should be considering their customers in this. If it angers your customers, it's probably not a good idea. Since any global online retailer's goal is to have the whole world as customers, they should be thinking about everyone.
      • Get YOUR head out of your ass.

        Imagine .. if you will .. you are in charge of taking the LARGEST e-tailer on line, and maintaining its profitability.
        Your guys came up with this neat one-click idea. Now .. imagine you DON'T try to protect this asset, and invest hundreds of millions in advertising to promote your new .. speedier service. Three months later, your competition do exactly the same thing, and your investors are looking to replace you.

        What Amazon did in the early 90's is *NO* different than what che
        • by Aladrin (926209)
          Nice try, but you seem to be confused. There's quite a bit wrong with your post. Let's start with these:

          I never said what 'biotech companies' do is 'right' either. Are you that brainwashed that YOU think it's okay?

          Why would a company invest millions of advertising dollars in an obvious idea that can be copied in a week?

          Your last line seems to suggest that if I don't work at the patent office, I have no business talking about the patent system. Just because you have NO idea about anything but the job you
  • Rick Boucher (VA) and Howard Berman (CA)

    We're using the mainstream media method now of ignoring party affiliation when casting Democrats in a bad light, eh?

  • by melted (227442) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:39AM (#19131145) Homepage
    How about refunding license payments if this falls through? That'd be cool. Say, you've filed a patent and started charging people licensing fees based on the patent that's not yet granted. The patent is rejected. Shouldn't you refund the licensing fees? Can we do this for all patents, so that there's penalty for filing shitty, obvious patents, or patents where prior art exists?

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