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1-Click Smacked Down Again, While Reexam Languishes 72

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-game-is-rigged dept.
theodp writes "Pressed on Amazon's 1-Click patent, then-USPTO Chief Q. Todd Dickinson got testy: "I make this challenge all the time. If you're aware of prior art out there that invalidates a patent that is existing, file a re-examination. We'll be happy to take a look at it." Really? It's been 3+ years since unemployed actor Peter Calveley submitted prior art that triggered a USPTO reexamination of the 1-Click patent. Still no 'final answer' from the USPTO. To put things in perspective, 1-Click inventor Jeff Bezos once proposed a three-year lifespan for patents (later retracted), let alone patent reexams. In the meantime, other patent examiners have repeatedly smacked down 1-Click — the latest (non-final) rejection was issued on Feb. 10th with Sandra Bullock's help."
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1-Click Smacked Down Again, While Reexam Languishes

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  • Invented? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolic (11752) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @07:58PM (#26944873)

    Please don't say that the one-click experience was "invented" by Jeff Bezos - it completely trivializes the entire creative process. It reduces those who are truly innovative to the status of mere dilettantes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If you want to talk about trivializing the creative process, how about the word "content". Whoever came up with that one, a description of culture in terms of its relationship to its delivery mechanism that treats it as a sort of homogeneous goo, pulled off perhaps the most dramatic trivialization of the creative process in contemporary history.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have an amazon account, they have all my details online, and so forth.

    But when I buy something through what they claim as "1 click", it sure seems like more than one to me.

    Is this some new definition of "1", or am I missing something obvious here? It takes several clicks just to get to the "you are about to be charged" screen. And that's assuming I have already logged in, which I usually haven't when I just want to go there and buy a CD or something.

    Well... maybe if I do all the navigation with the keyb

    • There is one click buying where you preconfigure everything like which address to use, the shipping method, and the credit card. You have to explicitly enable it in your account with them.

      • Frankly, this seems like a fairly nonobvious "invention" to me - in that I can't understand why anyone would ever want to do this. At the very least I'd want one click to put each item in the shopping cart or whatever, and one click to confirm the order with information like the calculated shipping cost, delivery time, whether any items are backordered, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Too bad... I thought they found prior art in 2005's "The Net" screenplay.

  • by enter to exit (1049190) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @08:50PM (#26945213)

    let us say a car manufacturer invents a wireless device that unlocked your car when you are within a certain range automatically. let us also say they patented this

    technically, there are devices that sort of do this, except you have to press a button. Suddenly every car manufacturer realizes this is a much better method of opening doors and they decide to implement the same design in their cars.

    The original car manufacturer has spend time and money conducting usability studies, adding this, removing that in an effort to give their customers greater satisfaction.

    suddenly they see every car company has copied their design and have piggy-backed on the research they spent money on, on the grounds that there is already prior art (the button keys) and the idea is obvious anyway.

    Don't the inventors of the wireless door have the right stop and say "hey you guys didn't invent this, there was something similar but it's not the same thing, we spent money perfecting the things that in hindsight seem startlingly obvious, don't steal our work"?

    • by Plunky (929104)

      let us say a car manufacturer invents a wireless device that unlocked your car when you are within a certain range automatically. let us also say they patented this

      Actually, devices such as this already exist. I don't know if they are patented. I worked with a guy once (2 years ago) and he gave me a lift home. From work, he just walked up to his car and got in and pressed a button and the engine started. He had a small widget hanging around his neck and the car unlocked the doors and activated the ignition

      • by Team503 (1198377)
        The Corvette, among others, has had this system in place since the late 80s. It is an option. Simply consists of a low power RF transmitter keyfob that changes the electronics locks to the unlock state when in range. Nifty, but not the smartest thing. Just because I'm within 15 feet of my door, doesn't mean I want my front door unlocked.
    • by bentcd (690786)

      Don't the inventors of the wireless door have the right stop and say "hey you guys didn't invent this, there was something similar but it's not the same thing, we spent money perfecting the things that in hindsight seem startlingly obvious, don't steal our work"?

      No. What they have the right to do is milk the hell out of their first-to-market advantage then use some of the proceeds to come up with the next new thing. If they fail to turn their invention into extra profits then either the invention wasn't all that great after all, or else they're a crappy company in which case no wonder they're having trouble. Competition is /meant/ to be hard.

  • by garutnivore (970623) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:01PM (#26945265)

    In the meantime, other patent examiners have repeatedly smacked down 1-Click --- the latest (non-final) rejection was issued on Feb. 10th with Sandra Bullock's help."

    I truly don't know what that sentence is supposed to mean. Is "smack down" a legal term?

    Defense: Your Honor, the defense would like to smack down the prosecution's evidence.

    Prosecution: Objection, Your Honor. The defense has not demonstrated it possesses the balls to smack us down. We'd also like to put on the record that we've had intercourse with the defense's wife.

    Judge: Objection sustained. It has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court that the defense has no balls. We also note that the prosecution could not have had intercourse with the defense's wife, for lack of penis.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Well, I suppose it is better than putting them in a figure four leglock. I heard that is REALLY painful and the lawyers tend to wet themselves which makes for a messy cleanup for the janitor not to mention the smell in the court room.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's true, your honor, this man has no dick.

  • From May,2000 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Windrip (303053)

    This is a transcript of an interview conducted 24-May-2000

    Dipshits = /.

    • Wait... what year is it?

      Crap, I think I overslept for my high school class.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      W-o-w. Linking to an article that's almost nine years old...that has to be some kind of Slashdot record.
    • Re:From May,2000 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by idlemachine (732136) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:50PM (#26945809)
      The summary really isn't difficult to comprehend:
      • Nine years ago the USPTO chief said "Don't whine about prior art, submit evidence of it" regarding the 1-Click patent.
      • Three+ years ago, such evidence was submitted.
      • Today: Amazon still retains the patent, while the promised re-exam has yet to occur.

      So yes, if you only focus on one element of the entire summary I can understand why you might think that its someone other than you who is being a "dipshit".

      • The summary really isn't difficult to comprehend:

        • Nine years ago the USPTO chief said "Don't whine about prior art, submit evidence of it" regarding the 1-Click patent.
        • Three+ years ago, such evidence was submitted.
        • Today: Amazon still retains the patent, while the promised re-exam has yet to occur.

        So yes, if you only focus on one element of the entire summary I can understand why you might think that its someone other than you who is being a "dipshit".

        • the latest (non-final) rejection was issued on Feb. 10th with Sandra Bullock's help.

        So, the promised re-exam is occurring. What do people think happens during a reexamination? A big courtroom trial? No... Reexaminations are ex parte - the patent owner vs. the USPTO examiner, same as the original examination. And they result in things such as non-final rejections.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I believe you miss the point. If the re-exam happens to take as long as the patent has left to live, and this sure seems like it could, how does the re-exam help? If the system for fixing things happen to be unable to fix things before they are no longer relevant, then there *isn't* a system for actually fixing anything.

  • patent reexams aren't 1-click ...

  • ... is that some of the prior art (the open account) can be shown to exist in Babylonian cuneiform. Does the USPTO search back to Babylonian cuneiform for evidence of prior art in business practices?

    The open account is where the customer walks into the store, is recognized by the owner or clerk, requests some goods, says "put it on my account", and receives the goods. The owner or clerk updates the account. In the one click patent the recognition is by a cookie.

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:24PM (#26945701)

    Actually, a final rejection was made on the re-exam case, but Amazon filed an RCE (request for continued examination). Essentially, as long as Amazon is willing to (a) pay the fee and (b) make some sort of submission that merits further examination (e.g., amending the claims or presenting another prior art reference they want considered), they can keep the re-exam going until the cows come home. The next action after an RCE is usually non-final - it's a bit like starting the examination process over again.

    On a side note, after the RCE and before the subsequent non-final Office action, Amazon submitted an IDS (information disclosure statement, on which they list further references they wish to have considered) that was 36 pages long. That's not a 36-page reference - the list of references itself took 36 pages.

  • Who cares about prior art. Surely it fails the obviousness test.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dachannien (617929)

      The obviousness test relies upon prior art. If somebody does something, and nobody can show that any part of it has been done before, then surely it's not obvious?

      • by bit01 (644603)

        The obviousness test relies upon prior art. If somebody does something, and nobody can show that any part of it has been done before, then surely it's not obvious?

        There are an infinite number of reasons why things are not done. To say that something is not done implies that something is not obvious is just one more example of PTO bogus logic.

        ---

        The patent system. The whole edifice is based on handwaving.

  • by theodp (442580) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:12PM (#26945889)

    Ironically, Stephen Levy - whose 1995 article The End of Money [newsweek.com] is now being used by USPTO examiners to reject 1-Click patent claims as obvious - reported back in 2000's The Great Amazon Patent Debate [newsweek.com] about the conversation he sat in on in which Jeff Bezos just wouldn't hear that 1-Click was obvious. Responding to Tim O'Reilly's charge that "trying to enforce a patent claim on something as obvious as 1-Click is downright selfish," Bezos countered: "When we applied for the patent, 1-Click wasn't obvious...When we introduced it, people were surprised...They called it innovative."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      They weren't saying 1-Click wasn't obvious. It was obvious.

      What wasn't obvious was to patent it.

      Sure they were shocked... no-one before thought such a simple and obvious thing could be classified as an "invention"

      The "innovation" was getting the patent office to recognize such an ordinary everyday thing as a number of mouse-clicks in UI design as something patentable.

  • The synopsis does not reflect peters talent. Calling peter a out of work actor is like calling Ronald Reagan a to 2 bit B movie actor. Peter is much more, he is in work with our countries major TV network, He is smart and a bit of a geek, who else be an actor/director/producer and go after IT patient abuses for a hobby. Go for it peter.
    • Re:Peter's Talent (Score:4, Informative)

      by theodp (442580) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @01:45PM (#26949697)

      Sorry if it came across that way; certainly wasn't the intent. Indeed, Peter's efforts here even left legal professionals impressed [patentbaristas.com]: "It turns out that New Zealander Peter Calveley is one of the actors who provided the motions for computer-generated elves and orcs in Two Towers. He also has been laid up of late due to an accident (I can relate). He has now put his free time to use taking on a David and Goliath effort against Amazon...I have to admit, I was quite intrigued by the whole affair given that a Request for Re-Exam is not something average citizens take on in their spare time. After some correspondence, we spoke by telephone briefly -- since I was unwilling to write about his efforts if this was all a scam. I found that Calveley is extremely bright and has his own inventions and understands computer patents and procedures quite well. He has the time and will to do this even if it won't bring him a direct benefit."

  • This endless wrangling about prior art should be rendered moot by the Bilski Decision [groklaw.net] anyhow - I would hope. The Bilski Decision puts the whole concept of software patents into question.

    • This endless wrangling about prior art should be rendered moot by the Bilski Decision [groklaw.net] anyhow - I would hope. The Bilski Decision puts the whole concept of software patents into question.

      Not necessarily. Bilski wasn't explicitly software - he was managing hedge funds - and the decision cited State Street... favorably. The only real difference between State Street and Bilski was that State had means-plus-function claims. And in light of Bilski, PTO Examiners are now looking for a few "magic words" in claims that signify they're tied to a specific computing machine.

      Anyways, since Bilski's going up before SCOTUS, this is all irrelevant. No one knows what it really means and won't for another

  • When Palm/3Com were losing the Graffiti fight to Xerox, I gave them a published article from a IEEE journal on the "SCANC" system that was almost identical to both Graffiti and the Xerox patent and which should absolutely have been accepted as prior art.

    Nope.

    The system is broken, and Mr. Dickson and everybody else involved needs to be cashiered at once.

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