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Amazon 1-Click Patent Survives Almost Unscathed 117

Posted by timothy
from the can-this-just-be-a-bad-dream? dept.
Zordak writes "Amazon's infamous '1-click' patent has been in reexamination at the USPTO for almost four years. Patently-O now reports that 'the USPTO confirmed the patentability of original claims 6-10 and amended claims 1-5 and 11-26. The approved-of amendment adds the seeming trivial limitation that the one-click system operates as part of a 'shopping cart model.' Thus, to infringe the new version of the patent, an eCommerce retailer must use a shopping cart model (presumably non-1-click) alongside of the 1-click version. Because most retail eCommerce sites still use the shopping cart model, the added limitation appears to have no practical impact on the patent scope.'" Also covered at TechFlash.
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Amazon 1-Click Patent Survives Almost Unscathed

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  • My DEAR god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexborges (313924) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:20PM (#31430370)

    And here I thought I being mangnanimous with the PTO people and giving them the benefit of the doubt was the sound and decent thing to do.

    Not any more.

    They are stupid idiots.

    Now who's gonna patent the wonderful idea that is 2 Click ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      * Click 1: Buy Now!
      * Click 2: Are You Sure?

      There's some pre-existing art so no one tries.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:40PM (#31430636)

        Has anyone done the half-click grab, the mouseover purchase, or the "drag-and-drop into the Buy Hole"?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HungryHobo (1314109)

          Sometimes I hear about these patents and upon further reading there's actually some substance to them and the short description turns out to be unfair.
          So I ask slashdot- does this patent have any real substance with anything that's genuinely innovative?

        • by mitchell_pgh (536538) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @06:26PM (#31431980)

          MITCHELL_PGH LLC PATENTS HALF CLICK

          WASHINGTON, DC—mitchell_pgh LLC has filed a 1.8 billion dollar class action lawsuit against Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google. "They are in clear violation of our half click patent. In fact, they violate our patent TWICE with every purchase!" said mitchell_pgh's director of operations Edward Smelt. "We are working closely with the USPTO to announce our 'press click' patent, 'mouse movement' patent, and 'depress click' patent as we speak." Smelt was unwilling to discuss mitchell_pgh LLC's ongoing "no click" patent.

        • I don’t care. I just stare the article down, until it sells itself to me!

          Chuck Norris

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        I'm actually thinking I should patent no-click. It's the iPod "shuffle" feature applied to an online store. When you visit the site, it chooses a random product, purchases it, and ships it to you. Take that, Amazon! I'd like to see you design a store that requires fewer clicks than that!

      • * Click 1: Buy Now! * Click 2: Are You Sure? There's some pre-existing art so no one tries.

        * Click 3: ????

        * Click 4: Profit!

      • by MrKaos (858439)
        * Click 1: On small click for a man

        * Click 2: One great kick in the balls for any integrity the PTO had left

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I seriously don't get the USPTO. I work in the patent law field in Europe. When I have to deal with the European Patent Office, I basically know what to expect and can prepare applications accordingly. Software, in particular, is basically a no-go. I only occasionally deal with the USPTO, and I yet have to see a concept behind their decisions. Folks, please get a sane PTO and a sane patent law. Would make my work significantly easier.
  • oh crap! (Score:5, Funny)

    by stokessd (89903) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:27PM (#31430462) Homepage

    I just clicked on this article, now apparently I own it, so: get off my lawn!!

    Sheldon

  • Non-obviousness. (Score:4, Informative)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:28PM (#31430486)

    This is an incredibly obvious patent and not at all novel. Is the bar for non-obviousness now simply that nobody else has patented it yet? Bit of a..."circular" (to put it nicely) definition, no?

    • Re:Non-obviousness. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:38PM (#31430608) Homepage

      Keep in mind that if an examiner is going to reject an application on the basis of obviousness, you can't just say "it's obvious". You have to come up with examples of why it is obvious [wikipedia.org]. The Supreme Court ruled [wikipedia.org] this is what needs to be looked at:

      the scope and content of the prior art;
      the level of ordinary skill in the art;
      the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art; and
      objective evidence of nonobviousness.

      And in a secondary fashion:

      commercial success;
      long felt but unsolved needs; and
      failure of others.

      • by ChipMonk (711367) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:55PM (#31430810) Journal
        1-Click fails on every point, but most of all on prior art. A single click to "perform action X now" has been around at least since Douglas Englebart gave the Mother Of All Demos in 1968. If nobody in the USPTO's review process could see that, then they all deserve to be demoted to janitors. (But I wouldn't hire them to clean my floors.)
        • by Shagg (99693)

          I think you meant "promoted".

        • Wasn't Einstein a patent clerk? Obviously not in the US, and waaaaay before software was around. He seemed pretty smart.
          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            In 1905, he published papers that founded Special Relativity, explained the photoelectric effect on the basis of a hypothesis of Max Planck's (which significantly helped the development of quantum physics), and explained Brownian Motion as direct observational evidence of the existence of molecules. The Swiss promoted him from Patent Technician, Third Class to Patent Technician, Second Class. Must be tough graders.

        • by jc42 (318812)

          1-Click fails on every point, but most of all on prior art. A single click to "perform action X now" has been around at least since Douglas Englebart gave the Mother Of All Demos in 1968.

          Yeah, I've sorta wondered about this since the "one click patent" thing became an issue. Amazon's patent is basically for using a single "click" to say "send me that thing". An obvious prior art for this is any web browser, since from the start they have all used a single click to mean "send me the thing this link points

        • The claim does not merely read "perform action X now". Read the claims before you pass your own judgment.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ChipMonk (711367)
            Okay, I read it. I see nothing there that any sensible team of a business programmer and a UI designer wouldn't do.

            After that single click on the "Buy It Now!" icon, I don't care how many HTTP cookie name/value pairs are sent, I don't care how much database processing goes on, I don't care how many forms are printed out in how many warehouses. Carrying out any set of actions, from popping up a message box to ordering an ICBM launch, as a result of a single click from a user, is as old as the mouse itself
            • But now that you've read the claim, you have to evaluate it for obviousness in terms of the requirements set forth by the Supreme Court in KSR v. Teleflex, i.e., the criteria mentioned in the ancestor post:

              the scope and content of the prior art;
              the level of ordinary skill in the art;
              the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art; and
              objective evidence of nonobviousness.

              In other words, you have to find the recited limitations in the prior art, indicate what's different between the prior art

              • by ChipMonk (711367)
                "In other words," you won't be satisfied until I compile a complete patent objection that traces its way clear back to the Big Bang.

                Whatever.
                • No, not "whatever". This is how patent law works. You have to show evidence of obviousness, or it doesn't count.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:36PM (#31431330)
        1-Click simplifies purchases saying "I'll take this, only this, and bill me in the usual manner." Someone running into a store, shouting "put it on my tab" as they grab one item and run out has existed for thousands of years. "Put it on my tab --- on a computer" is somehow new and novel. It's a business method, not a technology, so it shouldn't be patentable. It isn't even a software patent, as you aren't patenting code or such, but the general business plan, and an ancient one at that...
        • by Pojut (1027544)

          Should have added this line to my original post:

          I'm not saying Amazon should have been awarded this patent, I'm just saying that stating something is obvious isn't enough to deny a patent...you have to cite specific examples in prior art, cases, and law.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            It's so obvious and so much prior art exists that if you can't see it from just thinking about it, then there is some other problem.

            One click is a means of using "security" (i.e. recognition of the person) to bill someone in the prearranged manner. That's been done for thousands of years. I could cite some examples, but I'll state that is obvious.

            And the implementation is obvious. Earlier, there wasn't the level of volume, nor the appropriate security such that it was practical. Once practical, it was
        • by c_forq (924234)
          Obviously it must be extremely hard to do on a computer - every bar, shop, and lumberyard I got to uses computer systems and I can't put anything on my tab at any of them. There are some bars that will let me keep a tab, but they make me give them a credit card before they start it and make me close it before I leave.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:44PM (#31430682)

      More to the point, this patent has been fully exposed to the light of day, prior art has been submitted, and it's clearly unpatentable on the face of it.

      Yet the patent has been upheld.

      What this proves is that the USPTO doesn't need to be reformed, it needs to be scrapped. There's little legitimate point in having it at all anymore. The people it supposedly should protect (the small inventors) are the very people crushed by it. They and the rest of us would be better off if it no longer existed at all.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        That's how it goes with pretty much any software patent...

      • What this proves is that the USPTO doesn't need to be reformed, it needs to be scrapped. There's little legitimate point in having it at all anymore. The people it supposedly should protect (the small inventors) are the very people crushed by it. They and the rest of us would be better off if it no longer existed at all.

        ^^ this

    • by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@gmai l . com> on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:53PM (#31430780)

      Well you've got to remember it's an old patent by now -- of course it's obvious at this point! But back then, we were all like "woah" and "how did they DO that?!!!" They deserve a lot of credit.

  • If you are willing to alienate Mac users, just implement a right-click method.
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      No worries, there's a workaround for the workaround! They can CTRL+Click.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by natehoy (1608657)

        Then I shall trump them with a CTRL-right-click! :)

        • by fyngyrz (762201)

          No need, we're already screwed when we need left+right clicks. Especially on trackpads. Luckily, plug in a reasonable mouse, everything works fine. It's only with an Apple cripple-mouse or a trackpad you get into trouble. First thing I do with a new Mac is throw the apple mouse in a drawer, second thing is ditch the chiclet keyboard for a scissor design... then they work the way they should have in the first place, great machines. Except for the laptops... can't conveniently replace those keyboards, and oh

        • There's a workaround for that, too. Option+CTRL+click

  • by ChipMonk (711367) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:47PM (#31430704) Journal
    The USPTO may find itself the butt of many jokes if SCOTUS invalidates 99% of software patents in their Bilski ruling.

    "Amazon 1-Click Patent Survives Almost Unscathed." Respect for the USPTO, not so much.
  • This is probably just a complete coincidence, but a few months ago Apple removed the shopping cart system from iTunes, switching it to a "wish list" system with 1-click purchasing. Did they see this coming?

  • who uses it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I do not like the idea that I can accidentally order something. 1-click is the dumbest invention ever.
    • Re:who uses it? (Score:5, Informative)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:58PM (#31430836) Journal

      My wife signed up for "Amazon Prime" and unbeknownst to her they turned it on as part of that process. She was looking at netbooks and wanted to add a few favorites to her shopping cart so she could compare them, and damn if the "Buy Now" button doesn't look a whole lot like the "Add To Cart" button.

      Thankfully, when she called me in a panic after trying to cancel the order NOT ONE MINUTE AFTER PLACING IT and getting the "order is in process and cannot be canceled" message, we determined that the one she picked was pretty much the ideal netbook for her anyway. But we turned it off almost immediately thereafter (fortunately they allow you to turn it off, or I would literally stop shopping at Amazon's site for fear of accidentally buying things).

      I cannot imagine for the life of me why anyone would want a single, large, shiny button (actually, no, two of them) on the information page that commit you to buying something the instant you click it. I'm sure there's a good reason (other than Amazon wanting to sell more stuff via accidental clicks), but I can't think of it.

      • by AndrewNeo (979708)

        I don't know how long ago you did that, but right now when I use 1-Click it says "You have 30 minutes to cancel or change your order."
        Personally, I like having 1-Click while I have Prime, but definitely not if it's off (mostly because I want $25 to make it free shipping). I certainly agree it should NOT be on by default, though.

      • by westlake (615356)

        From the Amazon.site:

        Changing an Amazon Fulfilled Order Before It Ships

        Most orders you place on Amazon.com enter the shipping process very quickly so we can get your items to you as soon as possible. Orders already in the shipping process cannot be modified.

        You can update your unshipped orders by visiting the Order section in Your Account and then clicking the Change button next to each item you wish to modify (billing address, shipping address, payment method, gift options, etc.).

        To edit an order from the

      • To most people, it appears to be one-click, but you're basically patenting the idea of fooling people into thinking you have one-click ordering.

        I have always wondered about this "feature". I'm used to having all of my items in one shipment, one box. Then Amazon's fulfillment centers became - not sure how to describe it, but more of a "just in time" inventory system. So your orders can come from different warehouses. They asked if you wanted it all in one box, or ship as things become available, or cheap

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by R.Mo_Robert (737913)

        My wife signed up for "Amazon Prime" and unbeknownst to her they turned it on as part of that process. ... I cannot imagine for the life of me why anyone would want a single, large, shiny button (actually, no, two of them) on the information page that commit you to buying something the instant you click it. I'm sure there's a good reason (other than Amazon wanting to sell more stuff via accidental clicks), but I can't think of it.

        I have the same problem on my Kindle, which essentially uses the one-click model as well (all you have to do is accidentally move the joystick to the right button--or, better yet, do it without realizing it because the screen is relatively slow at refreshing--and click down). It seems like a terrible idea to me, too, without even so much as an "Are you sure?" confirmation.

        Luckily, the one time I accidentally bought a book, I e-mailed customer service, deleted the book (per their request, although we all kno

        • by addaon (41825)

          No. The Kindle does this exactly right (from a UI point of view –not talking about patent nonsense).

          It's "one click" to purchase. When you've clicked, you're at the confirmation screen. From that screen, all standard navigation (back, home) works; but there's a single button on that screen. That button reads, and I paraphrase, "oops, I didn't mean to click that, un-buy."

          This is awesome UI. Do NOT present a confirmation dialog for undoable actions; instead, make them easy to undo.

      • A big shiny button is good for the shop. It increases the likelihood that people will buy more things. Not by buying things by mistake, but because they don't have the opportunity to reconsider purchases after seeing the intimidating total cost of all the items in their cart at checkout. Instead of confirming that you really want to buy something, you buy it right away and have the opportunity to cancel later. I imagine it has the same psychological effect as opt-out vs opt-in checkboxes.

        I wouldn't mind

    • So you wouldn't enable it for your account. I use it for certain types of purchases. I do admit it "feels" kind of weird - I typically like to confirm my list of purchases, etc before "checkout" -- but those times when I want to grab something off of the MP3 store it's awfully convenient.
  • so, they cant come up and say 'we shouldnt have awarded such a blatantly absurd and obvious patent for such a basic action' outright, but are resorting to legalese to save face to invalidate the patent without admitting absurdity of whole u.s. patent system.

    • by Zordak (123132)

      so, they cant come up and say 'we shouldnt have awarded such a blatantly absurd and obvious patent for such a basic action' outright, but are resorting to legalese to save face to invalidate the patent without admitting absurdity of whole u.s. patent system.

      No. They re-examined the patent. Some of the claims were allowed to stand. Others had to be amended. The new claims are no more "legalese" than the old claims. There is no "saving face" going on here. The claims have been upheld in court and on appeal at least twice. The PTO doesn't care what you think of it.

      • A quick question from a European point of view - at what point can you challenge the validity of a patent in court in the US? And what kind of court would handle this? One thing about the German system I particularly like is the specialized Patent Court with its Technical Judges, which are required to have a degree in a technical or scientific field as well as their legal schooling. Here, you can appeal decisions of the patent office before that court, and in my experience, the rulings are generally very s
        • by Zordak (123132)

          If you want to challenge a patent in court, you basically have to either have already been sued, or been threatened to be sued. On the other hand, anybody can challenge a patent in the USPTO, if you can find prior art that raises a "substantial new question of patentability."

          As for the courts, all patent cases are heard in federal (i.e., not state) district (i.e., local) courts, which are not specialized. All patent appeals are heard by the CAFC, which is specialized. The judges don't have to be patent a

        • Here, you can appeal decisions of the patent office before that court, and in my experience, the rulings are generally very sensible.

          Sensible and the US legal system parted ways a while ago. I am totally bewildered by this ruling. @Zordak: Yes, duh, the court ruled that the patent is upheld. Only a lawyer would in effect claim "QED" based on that. How can we have respect for the rule of law when completely idiotic rulings like this pop out? Obviously something is wrong.

          • by Zordak (123132)

            Yes, duh, the court ruled that the patent is upheld. Only a lawyer would in effect claim "QED" based on that.

            Then you weren't paying attention. I was responding to a ridiculous charge that the USPTO was trying to "save face" by issuing a ruling in "legalese." The reexamination mentioned in the article is strictly an administrative proceeding within the USPTO, so passing reexamination does not imply that any court has upheld the patent. The court proceedings were completely separate. But favorable court rulings --> no need to "save face." (QED). The USPTO doesn't care what Slashdot user unity100 thinks o

            • And nobody said they do care. That's kind of the problem -- it's not a matter of "saving face." It's a matter of making rulings that increasingly do not make any sense to non-lawyers. They might not be a court, but they act like one. Senseless rulings based on obscure, complex points of law is what drives ordinary guys like me to wonder what chance I have of getting justice in our system, and to call it broken. So if the court shrugs off what effect their rulings have on the perception that there is ju
        • U are asking for sensibility in US courts?
          Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
          Let me first compose myself.
          ha ha ha

  • Everyone knows shopping carts are old school.

    now we have the shopping cloud! win all around!

    /what a strange patent
  • Invalidating a patent is asking a government bureaucrat to acknowledge that him or his fellow bureaucrat was wrong. This simply cannot happen very often, regardless of the merits of the patent in question.
  • Barrier to Entry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:10PM (#31430992)
    How big of a barrier to entry are software patents to innovators? You and I come up with a great idea but to implement it requires three other patents (which we would argue two of them are obvious but have been granted anyway) - which large players conveniently hold and cross-license with each other because well, they can afford it. How twisted away from the original purpose of promoting innovation by individuals will US Patent law become? The Futurama vision of Momcorp springs to mind.
  • ...as part of a sequence of numbers used to identify a desired object from a set of possible objects. my claim should have as much validity as theirs.
  • by SeaCrazy (312000) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:14PM (#31431054) Homepage

    ... the USPTO saves millions of dollars with their newly introduced 1-click patent approval process.

    • ... the USPTO saves millions of dollars with their newly introduced 1-click patent approval process.

      ... but spent all of the saved millions on patent licensing fees.

  • "one click patent" will allow users to apply for patents with a single click.

    This idea is patented.
  • Amazon 1-Click Patent has now filed a 0 click patent. The idea behind it is that because of the 1 click patent they become so unpopular clients don't need to click at all. But rest assured, there is still the 1-wipe patent.
  • I've never been able to buy anything from Amazon with just one click. Have you counted them? WARNING: More than 1 click may be required unless you are already logged on and a bunch of other requirements are in order - which they probably aren't. Please allow 30 minutes to purchase.
  • It's nice to know that not all ridiculous patents are accepted everywhere.

    http://www.techvibes.com/blog/amazon-one-click-patent-application-refused-in-canada [techvibes.com]

  • If you allow the user to have multiple shopping lists, and then take each list to the checkout rather than a basket... then one-click doesn't apply, right?

    In the UK there is a chain of brick and mortar stores called Argos. You don't have a shopping trolley, cart or basket... you have a bit of paper on which you write the codes of the items you want and you take that to the checkout and then once paid someone gets them from the warehouse and brings them to the counter near the exit.

    You can have multiple list

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