Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Television The Internet Your Rights Online

Amazon Patents Pitching As-Seen-On-TV Products 83

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the it-slices-it-dices-it-edits-slashdot dept.
theodp writes "Q. What do you get when you surround the image of Men in Black star Will Smith trying on sunglasses with a pitch for 'MIB Bill Smith Dark Shades'? A. U.S. Patent No. 8,180,688. 'Many people consume broadcast media such as television shows and movies for many hours a week,' Amazon explained to the USPTO in its patent application for a Computer-Readable Medium, System, and Method for Item Recommendations Based on Media Consumption. 'The consumed broadcast media may depict a variety of items during the course of the transmission, such as clothing, books, movies, accessories, electronics, and/or any other type of item.' So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Amazon Patents Pitching As-Seen-On-TV Products

Comments Filter:
  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:21PM (#40051723) Journal

    As patents can be varied just by the language used in it, we should apply for a "as seen on the internet" patent, Amazon don't have that one do they?!

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      As patents can be varied just by the language used in it, we should apply for a "as seen on the internet" patent, Amazon don't have that one do they?!

      But, since you can view the internet on your TV, would that not then be as seen on TV, too?

      • No, it arrives at the TV using a totally different technique, therefore it is an entirely new, unique process that demands a separate patent.

        Hell, to properly patent it, you need a third one to cover mobile phones and tablets, because they use cell phone networks, which also makes it entirely unique.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          No, it arrives at the TV using a totally different technique, therefore it is an entirely new, unique process that demands a separate patent.

          Hell, to properly patent it, you need a third one to cover mobile phones and tablets, because they use cell phone networks, which also makes it entirely unique.

          Maybe not for cell phones and tablets, because the patent refers to broadcast media such as television. Cable is not broadcast, nor is dsl, etc. WIFI and cell phones and almost any rf based wireless technology could be claimed to be broadcast, though.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:26PM (#40051769)

    So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?"

    Yes. If you read the patent, you'll see why.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Read it and the answer is no. Recommending items based on other items or services consumed is nothing novel. U.S. Patent No. 8,180,688 is just a variant, yet another iteration of that process. Patents require novelty and nonobviousness; that patent provides neither.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "Recommending items based on other items or services consumed is nothing novel"

        Exactly this. It's called the upsell, and there's prior art for THOUSANDS of years.

        • by Caratted (806506)
          No it's not. When you're a company the size of Amazon, you have clout to introduce new methods of advertising. I can see why you would call it an upsell, but you're not really moving a purchase away from one product and up to another... just advertising the products as they are introduced in whatever content you are consuming.

          I don't partake, but I am aware that Amazon serves up shows and movies over the net. The amount of paperwork they had to file and the number of agreements they've signed with Holly
          • by Khyber (864651)

            Upselling can be anything from moving a customer towards a more expensive purchase, or simply suggesting add-on items (Need lube to go with that vibrator?)

            From Wikipedia: "Upselling (sometimes "up-selling") is a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale."

            It's still an upsell. It's not novel.

    • Re:Yup. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:01PM (#40052013)

      So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?"

      Yes. If you read the patent, you'll see why.

      I read the patent and I don't see why. While the patent in question has nothing to do with "as seen on tv" as the summary suggests, it is all about electronically analyzing purchasing habits to make recommendations for other purchases. My local grocery store has been doing this for years. Ebay was doing it before Amazon even existed.

      The patent is basically about harvesting consumer data to perform market research and there are gobs of prior art in existence. So, no, it does not deserve a patent.

      • Re:Yup. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Tacvek (948259) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:30PM (#40052219) Journal

        The patent is explicitly about purchasing recommendations influenced by the broadcast media the user is currently consuming (i.e. recomendations based on the TV show/commercial/movie/infomercial you are watching *right at this minute*), and what other people purchased while consuming the same program, combined with data about items being shown in said program.

        The description gives the example of a button on your cable box/sat receiver remote that you can push while watching TV, which will add a border next to the show allowing you to purchase what is being shown, and offering recommendations for other similar products.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          You are correct, when I skimmed it, I missed the television. However, it does specify broadcast media "such as television", which is interesting as the courts have already determined that cable is not considered broadcast media. So, this would seem to be a patent directed at radio and tv broadcast received over the airways.

          • by Tacvek (948259)

            That would be true, except that in the claims themselves they do not use the term broadcast media, only in the disclosure. In the disclosure one may freely use the general meaning of terms even when they have a distinct legal meaning.

            In the general meaning of the terms, cable is definitely broadcast media, since it is not unicast, anycast, or even multicast. Besides they specify in the vdisclosure that what they label a broadcast source "includes, for example, a satellite, an antenna, and/or a cable network

        • IMDB already has similar recommendation system: based on what movies you liked, what pages you visited on their domain etc. It just doesn't recommend a general product, but a movie. So I don't see the innovation in Amazon's case, also, generic datamining shouldn't be patentable.

        • by ExploHD (888637)
          Like a Soap-Opera?
        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Still sounds like very mundane data mining and the sort of associated user interfaces that any college intern could whip up. It sound more like a college homework assignment then something that the PTO should be granting a patent for.

      • I read the patent and I don't see why. While the patent in question has nothing to do with "as seen on tv" as the summary suggests, it is all about electronically analyzing purchasing habits to make recommendations for other purchases. My local grocery store has been doing this for years.

        Your local grocery store tracks what television programs you watch that involve food and makes recommendations for produce based on what people watching the same programs have also watched and bought? That's a little creepy.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          I read the patent and I don't see why. While the patent in question has nothing to do with "as seen on tv" as the summary suggests, it is all about electronically analyzing purchasing habits to make recommendations for other purchases. My local grocery store has been doing this for years.

          Your local grocery store tracks what television programs you watch that involve food and makes recommendations for produce based on what people watching the same programs have also watched and bought? That's a little creepy.

          No, but my local grocery store tracks what I purchase and makes recommendations on that. I'm pretty sure those recommendations are based on purchases that other people have made who also purchased what I bought. I know that many on-line retailers do the same. The only novel thing is the television part. Even that isn't truly novel. I'm pretty sure P&G or Ford or Chevy are very aware of what people watch on tv and target their commercials accordingly. They just don't do it with a little button on

          • Your local grocery store tracks what television programs you watch that involve food and makes recommendations for produce based on what people watching the same programs have also watched and bought? That's a little creepy.

            No, but my local grocery store tracks what I purchase and makes recommendations on that. I'm pretty sure those recommendations are based on purchases that other people have made who also purchased what I bought. I know that many on-line retailers do the same. The only novel thing is the television part. Even that isn't truly novel. I'm pretty sure P&G or Ford or Chevy are very aware of what people watch on tv and target their commercials accordingly. They just don't do it with a little button on a box.

            Except that neither of those have anything to do with the patent. This is about offering products visible in a scene to viewers, based on purchases of products by other viewers of the same scene. Viewers of commercials are a different thing altogether... Ford isn't advertising to you while you watch a Chevy commercial, and if they were, Chevy would be pissed.

            And similarly, your local grocery tracking what you purchase and making recommendations on it, even based on what others purchase, is the same thing

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              > Except that neither of those have anything to do with the patent. This is about offering products visible in a scene to viewers

              Nonsense. It's exactly the same thing. All they have done is juiced up the data a little bit so that it's more detailed.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Same process. Different data.

          Classic case of patenting a mahogany mouse trap.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        Hell every mom and pop PC shop has been doing that offline forever, and if you want an online example tigerdirect has been doing the same thing for at least a decade. Its just a variation of the classic upselling of the customer and that technique is as old as dirt. Nothing novel about seeing someone bought A and then trying to sell them things that compliment A, its just common salesmanship.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Just as Carlin said "Not every ejaculation deserves a name", not every brainfart deserves patent protection. Yet that's what we're increasingly doing as a society.

      And they're not even brainfarts sometimes, just old techniques/methods applied to new mediums to continue doing business as usual. That should never be patentable.

      IMO, the first thing a patent process should ask is: "Does this idea help overcome some real-world obstacle in order to accomplish something humans haven't been technically able to do

  • These are some patent lawsuits I can stand behind!
  • I was just sitting here filling out my application for a patent on the method and procedure for naming or labeling any electronic medium such as a television or radio broadcasting outlet, electronic or online medium after a geographical feature, name, or region.

  • Product placement for the terminally stupid?

  • There has long been a push by the media companies to find a way to tie in product placement advertising from shows to real product sales options. I believe there have even been a few attempts when internet-enabled TVs first came out to pop up "click here for more info" notices during the product placements, similar to what was shown on various science fiction movies in the '80s (e.g. Total Recall.)

    I suppose if they have a specific technology for delivering a side-band information payload, they might hav

    • Re:Debatable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msobkow (48369) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:40PM (#40051875) Homepage Journal

      Hmm. It seems I misunderstood what the patent is trying to do.

      Rather than embed popups and stuff in the video stream, they're trying to associate what you've watched with products that were placed in those particular shows.

      I have to admit I've never seen anyone try to do that before. Largely, I think, because most advertisers and retailers realize consumers would hit the roof to have their viewing habits tracked and correlated in such a fashion.

      Talk about an invasion of privacy! This makes tracking cookies almost palatable in comparison.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        What do you mean you have never seen anybody do that before. The actual patent isn't just about TV. Haven't you ever googled something and then the next thing you know you are seeing ads for products related to what you goodled? that is basically what Amazon is trying to patent.

        • What do you mean you have never seen anybody do that before. The actual patent isn't just about TV. Haven't you ever googled something and then the next thing you know you are seeing ads for products related to what you goodled? that is basically what Amazon is trying to patent.

          From the patent claims:

          ... the media program comprising at least one of a plurality of television shows, a plurality of television commercials, a plurality of television infomercials, a plurality of movies, and a plurality of videos on demand;

          Yeah, you're right... It's totally trying to cover search engine results.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            You see "search engines" and "television commercials" and we see the necessary table structures and SQL queries.

            • You see "search engines" and "television commercials" and we see the necessary table structures and SQL queries.

              You see "necessary table structures and SQL queries" and I see the explicit language in the patent claims, which is the only part with any legal weight. They're not patenting SQL queries, and they couldn't. They're only patenting what's in the claims, and so, no, search engines aren't covered.

          • by fatphil (181876)
            One is something that the providers of the information know that the recipients of the information sought out, the other is as well.

            "He searches for Brazillian fart fetish porn to watch" and "he watches Brazilian fart fetish porn" carry much the same payload, data-mining-wise.
            • One is something that the providers of the information know that the recipients of the information sought out, the other is as well. "He searches for Brazillian fart fetish porn to watch" and "he watches Brazilian fart fetish porn" carry much the same payload, data-mining-wise.

              Yes, but one is covered by the claims while the other is explicitly not covered.

      • by houghi (78078)

        Nobody gives a shit about their privacy anymore. Most people do not even know what it is.

        • Bullshit. There are plenty of people who know what privacy is and still respect it. You may not hear about them often, because, well, they're employing their privacy.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        Rather than embed popups and stuff in the video stream, they're trying to associate what you've watched with products that were placed in those particular shows.

        Actually, I think Amazon is on to something. This is a potential solution to piracy of movies and TV shows.

        Right now, content providers sell their content to viewers, and also sell interspersed advertisements within the content (commercials). The viewers don't like the ads, so they come up with popup blockers and commercial skippers to remove

  • Why was I discussing this as the probable direction of advertising in the future seven years ago?

    • Why was I discussing this as the probable direction of advertising in the future seven years ago?

      Well, where's your patent, pal? You blew that one! You could have been a BAZILLIONAIRE but instead you're just sitting there in your bathrobe on a Saturday morning typing comments no one is interested in into Slashdot...

      Er, yes... Now I'm off to innovate!

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        Why was I discussing this as the probable direction of advertising in the future seven years ago?

        Well, where's your patent, pal? You blew that one! You could have been a BAZILLIONAIRE but instead you're just sitting there in your bathrobe on a Saturday morning typing comments no one is interested in into Slashdot...

        Er, yes... Now I'm off to innovate!

        Because seven years ago when I and my coworkers were discussing it we thought it was obvious. You don't patent what you think is obvious. You patent what you think you can persuade the patent office is an invention. I was not as aware then of the absurdity of the things getting patents then as I am now.

        • Because seven years ago when I and my coworkers were discussing it we thought it was obvious. You don't patent what you think is obvious. You patent what you think you can persuade the patent office is an invention.

          You and your coworkers thought it was obvious... after you came up with it. It's all obvious in hindsight. The question is, was it obvious to someone who hadn't yet heard your idea... and considering it was apparently 5 more years before Amazon filed the patent application, the answer would be no.

  • This just analyses data and presents more data. Oooooh, who could have thought of that?
  • Does that mean (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:55PM (#40051981)

    Does that mean that Amazon is paying royalties to every the manufacturer of every item in one of their "As seen on TV?" For instance, just because the sunglasses may be the product in questions, what about the shoes the model is wearing? Surely, Amazon is not trying to patent other people's copyrights or to use them in their own get rich scheme without paying the royalties, are they?

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      That's not how it works. TFA has a bogus headline. The patent describes a system for recording what you're watching on TV, specifically the channel, time and program and comparing it to records of what people with similar viewing habits actually bought via a web service such as Amazon, then feeding you ads for those kinds of products. You've already seen the copyrighted content. Now you get to see targeted ads that the advertisers are paying to have you see.

    • Surely, Amazon is not trying to patent other people's copyrights

      Even though you've heard the words "patent" and "copyright" in the context of intellectual property, they're not the same thing.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        Surely, Amazon is not trying to patent other people's copyrights

        Even though you've heard the words "patent" and "copyright" in the context of intellectual property, they're not the same thing.

        Of course they are not, but if I am broadcasting a TV show, the content of that show, audio, video, specific images, etc.is my IP. If I chose to show Rachel and Ross drinking coffee that is an artistic decision. I could have had them drink milk. Regardless, the entire contents of that show is my IP and can't be used without my permission. Just ask MLB or the NFL. If Amazon is then trying to use my IP to evaluate the viewer's purchasing habits, they still need my permission, do they not? The patent is a

        • Of course they are not, but if I am broadcasting a TV show, the content of that show, audio, video, specific images, etc.is my IP. If I chose to show Rachel and Ross drinking coffee that is an artistic decision. I could have had them drink milk. Regardless, the entire contents of that show is my IP and can't be used without my permission. Just ask MLB or the NFL. If Amazon is then trying to use my IP to evaluate the viewer's purchasing habits, they still need my permission, do they not?

          Nope. Your copyright over the show gives you the right to copy it (hence the name), as well as distribute it, create derivative works, publicly perform it, import it, etc. It doesn't give you an exclusive right you can use to prevent people from, say, discussing the show at the water cooler the next day. Or a right you can use to prevent people from, say, analyzing how many times Ross takes a sip and comparing that to the number of times Rachel takes a sip, and writing a scholarly treatise on gender and sip

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      Uhm, no... The user pays to watch a program, or they are watching a you tube video. They do that today. Amazon doesn't need to pay anyone anything because I choose to watch something.
      Amazon has a product similar to one seen in the movie. Amazon offers it to you for sale. They do that today. Amazon doesn't need to pay anyone to offer that item for you (it maybe that the model in the Ad was paid at sometime, but that is going to happen anyways)
  • Dune buggy from the sporting goods store in "Mr & Mrs Smith".
  • Billy Mays here for BS Patents, Inc! Want to have a bunch of guaranteed revenue forever without doing anything useful? Then call now for a kit on how to create a nonsense patent! We'll include all the information you need to ignore silly rules like "prior art" by adding "with a computer" to the end of an existing patent, and how to pick something that everybody already uses so you'll have lots of people to sue! This kit can be yours for only $39.95 if you call now! But wait - order 2 and they'll go for $59.

    • Billy Mays here for BS Patents, Inc! Want to have a bunch of guaranteed revenue forever without doing anything useful? Then call now for a kit on how to create a nonsense patent! We'll include all the information you need to ignore silly rules like "prior art" by adding "with a computer" to the end of an existing patent, and how to pick something that everybody already uses so you'll have lots of people to sue! This kit can be yours for only $39.95 if you call now! But wait - order 2 and they'll go for $59.90, a $20 savings!

      Typically for Slashdot, the patent has nothing to do with what the summary says. It's a good lesson in "don't believe everything you hear, go to the primary source." Had you learned that lesson previously, you'd find that there are no patents that add "with a computer" to the end of an existing patent.

  • slice your retail business so thin the in-laws will Never Come Back (tm)!

  • You're supposed to read the claims. It's the most important part of the patent, and the least-read by the Slashdotter.

    In this case, paraphrasing, the patent is all about providing purchasing recommendations to someone who is watching a video based on items that are purchased by other people while they are watching that same video. It could be used for home shopping networks on TV, of course.

  • This is just taking a picture of someone, and then listing out all the products the model is wearing and how much to buy them.

    The only new "twist" on the old concept is that they arbitrarily involved films in the process rather than models
  • The electromagnetic force. Since it governs all light and the behavior of barionic matter, I win, crown me!!!

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons

Working...