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Amazon Patents Electronic Gifting

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  • Prior Art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:12AM (#40165155) Homepage Journal

    *yawn* if this gets awarded, it will fall in court the first time its used against someone.

    • by indre1 (1422435)
      I don't get it - how can they get highly educated people to even consider working on a patent like this? My motivation would be -100 on a scale of 10.
    • Re:Prior Art (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:17AM (#40165177) Homepage

      No: Amazon just picks the first few targets carefully ... targets that cannot afford the $5,000,000 lawyers fees to defend against the bloody obvious, so they give in. Then with a few precedents under their belt they are better armed to go against bigger fish. Even if they loose they can cause mayhem at a competitor in the 2 years that it takes to litigate.

      • by 1s44c (552956)

        And that is exactly the problem with any legal system based on case law. I'm not sure how to fix it though.

        • Most legal systems take precedent very seriously, and rightly so. This needs to be fixed on the legislative side; if a law is overly ambiguous or if case law shows that it is interpreted counter to its original intent, then it falls to the lawmakers to come up with a better law.

          Of course, in a country governed by lawyers, this will never happen.
      • Re:Prior Art (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:32AM (#40165289)

        That's complete nonsense, settlements are not precedent, kind of like how slashdot is not law school.

      • by Jamu (852752)
        IANAL: Why don't the big fish provide help to these little fish, to stop these precedents being set, and to, ultimately, defend their own position?
        • Re:Prior Art (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gma i l .com> on Thursday May 31, 2012 @09:30AM (#40165737)
          Because the executives of any of the big fish would rather die than spend the small amount of money to help their competition, since it might reduce the short-term profits that their bonuses and options rely on. Better that the entire company go down the tubes in the long run, since they'll have moved to a different employer by then. That's the game of Executive Musical Chairs that we have today, brought to us by the MBA disease.
      • Even if they loose they can cause mayhem at a competitor in the 2 years that it takes to litigate.

        I don't understand, what are they loosing?

      • I'm wiling to bet Apple goes after this right away. iTunes uses 'gifting' and I don't think Apple would ever settle with Amazon.
        • I'm wiling to bet Apple goes after this right away. iTunes uses 'gifting' and I don't think Apple would ever settle with Amazon.

          Two words: One Click.

          • Oops, accidentally used an opening "quote" tag in place of the closing one. Second quote is mine.
        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          Steam uses gifting, as does gamersgate. So prior art already exists.
          • Re:Prior Art (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ProfBooty (172603) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @09:08AM (#40165577)

            Indeed the examiner cited a whole bunch of prior art, including:

            PRwire; "Matchmaker.com Creates Business Development Unit for Gift Sales"; Jan. 20, 2000: pp. 1 and 2. cited by examiner .
            "GiftCardSwapping.com"; http://web.archive.org/web/20070520051410/http://www.giftcardswapping.com- [archive.org] /; Sunday, May 20, 2007; p. 1. cited by examiner .
            "Gift Card Exchange, Buy Gift Card, Discount Gift Cards, Cash Gift Card Swap"; http://web.archive.org/web/20080724163511/http:giftcardrescue.com/- [archive.org] ; Apr. 12, 2008-Jul. 11, 2011; pp. 1-3. cited by examiner .
            "CBLS.www.cbls.com.(World Web Watch)."; Advanced Materials & Processes, v160, n6; Jun. 2002; p. 1. cited by examiner .
            "Eugene Science"; Edgar Online; May 23, 2006; pp. 1-5. cited by examiner .
            Mathieu, Elizabeth; "Opinion: Delaware: An unparalleled home for your trust"; Private Asset Management, v5, n20; Oct. 5, 1998; pp. 1 and 2. cited by examiner .
            US Fed News Service, Including US State News;"Publication No. WO/2009/109949 Published on Sep. 11, Assigned to France Telecom for Electronic Gifting System (American Inventor)"; Sep. 15, 2009; p. 1. cited by examiner

            There a whole load more patent documents listed in the patent as prior art.

            Anyways, if sued I would probably just request a re-exam by the office, its only a couple of thousand bucks.

          • Re:Prior Art (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus,slashdot&gmail,com> on Thursday May 31, 2012 @09:29AM (#40165731) Homepage Journal

            Steam uses gifting, as does gamersgate. So prior art already exists.

            Contrary to the Slashdot assertion, this is not a patent on "gifting". This is a patent on a gifting system that doesn't bill the gift giver until the gift is accepted, and allows the giver to cancel the gift if the recipient has not accepted it in time. Steam and Gamersgate (as well as the Wii Store, iTunes, etc.) all charge the giver immediately. Not only are they not anticipatory prior art, they also don't infringe.

            • prior art be buggered... these crap software patents should not be getting granted in the first fscking place...
      • Then with a few precedents under their belt they are better armed to go against bigger fish.

        Settlements (I assume you meant the "small fish" would settle) aren't precedent for precisely that reason. IANAL but as I understand it, the court doesn't much concern itself with the results of prior litigation unless there's a verdict.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        Um, no. If settlements were counted as case law, my settled fight against EA would have nullified all EULAS and DRM.

        Try again.

    • It did get awarded, and it will not go to court, unless the "infringer" is rich enough to be able to finance the court procedings against amazon...
      So the "big guys" will get access to it in a cross licencing deal, and the small guys have to pray that :
      - either they stay why to small to be noticed
      - or they grow so fast that the lawers didn't get time to kill them before they are rich enought to play the "mutualy assured destruction game"

        this is soo sad

    • What do you mean if? You don't even have to read the article - the two sentence summary states that the patent was granted.

      And who cares about Facebook, who still has time to license the patent, when someone like Valve (i.e. Steam) is already infringing at the infrastructure level.

      Sure, you and everyone else (including myself) may think the patent is over broad, obvious, and non-innovative - but where were we (and Valve, Facebook, Apple, GoG, Microsoft, Walmart, etc...) during the 2008 public comment perio

      • by Fnord666 (889225)

        What do you mean if? You don't even have to read the article - the two sentence summary states that the patent was granted.

        He probably said that because slashdot submitters quite frequently confuse patent applications with the actual patent approvals. Readers do it even more frequently. Of course these days the application for and the granting of a patent seem to go hand in hand.

    • Ha, I misread the titles as "Amazon Patents Electronic Grifting", and though, "Oh come on! My inbox is full of prior art, going all the way back to the 90!"
      • by JazzLad (935151)
        Your inbox is full of 22 year old spam? You really need to take a day (week?) off and sort/delete some email ...

        ;)
    • Re:Prior Art (Score:4, Informative)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @09:24AM (#40165687) Homepage

      What about patentability within the in re Bilski decision. It fails the Bilski test.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yes and No. Yes on the electronic gifting part, as people have been sending eCards and gifts of music long before 2008 (hell I remember when napster first went legit you could gift someone a month of service) but no on the "delay payment until they accept and cancel if they don't" part. Because AFAIK nobody has made it to where the payment of the gift was tied to whether or not they would accept your gift so that's pretty novel.

      In the end though I think all these patents and copyrights are gonna do is drive

    • by icebike (68054) *

      *yawn* if this gets awarded, it will fall in court the first time its used against someone.

      At what cost?

      And if you read the summary (let alone the second link), you will see its not a matter of IF this gets awarded. Its ALREADY been awarded.

      Given that this is already being done by hundreds of companies, and has been done years before Amazon decided to patent it, this should not have been awarded. Ever send flowers via the internet? Ever ordered gifts on line and had them sent direct? Congratulations, you've "electronically gifted".

      This patent covers only electronic/digital items, music, eboo

  • by 1s44c (552956)

    This patent abuse has gone too far. It's time to revoke all trivial patents as they are obstructing the innovation they were designed to help.

    • Really? Would you like to give a list of trivial patents? Please do correct for bias on determining the simplicity of the idea when observed after the fact. I mean after all, the Franklin Stove was dead obvious, and even the Spinning Jenny was merely a rearrangements of wheels, cogs, and water wheels - each of which was well understood at the time. Logic gates? Pshaw - anyone can see they're a natural extension of a transistor (which is merely a trinket to even a doped chemist or physicist).

      Yes, I agre

      • Since determining whether a patent is trivial may not itself be a trivial task, the system should avoid the problem altogether. One way is not to have a patent system. Seriously. We don't get enough in exchange for all the trouble we take upon ourselves in trying to grant and uphold a monopoly. In exchange, we're supposed to receive knowledge of how some non-trivial device is constructed and works. If that is obvious, then we get nothing for committing ourselves to enforcing the ultimate in anti-compet

      • by Merk42 (1906718)
        We need to stop awarding patents based on the 'what' (ie electronic gifting) and go back to awarding patents based on the 'how' (where how is more specific than 'on the internet/computer'). My father is a chemist, he has some patents attributed to him. You can't patent something like a color (the what) but you can patent HOW you achieved that color.
      • by narcc (412956)

        Logic gates? Pshaw - anyone can see they're a natural extension of a transistor

        The transistor came much later...

  • "Gift" is not a verb. You cannot create a gerund from a noun.
    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:30AM (#40165279)

      No, but you can create a verb from a verb.

      gift/gift/

      Noun: A thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present: "a gift shop".
      Verb: Give (something) as a gift, esp. formally or as a donation or bequest: "the company gifted 2,999 shares to a charity".

    • by glwtta (532858)
      Interesting. What do you suppose the word 'gifted' means, then?

      Or does that not exist, either?
    • English is meant to be an evolving language. It has no "academy" that selects right and wrong.

      You lose.

      • English was and always will be a language of universal communication. The origins of the language comes from taking words from other languages and making use of them. That is why we have phrases like "cease and desist" and "breaking and entering", which are not sets of two different things, but phrases to denote that they have the exact same meaning. We have just lost the original understanding of the phrases.

        The end result is that you can Yoda Speak and completely understand it, even though it seems awkwa

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      You MIGHT want to look in the dictionary...

      gift

      noun
      1.
      something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
      2.
      the act of giving.
      3.
      something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned: Those extra points he got in the game were a total gift.
      4.
      a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent: the gift of saying the right thing at the right time.

      verb (used w

      • by jabberw0k (62554)

        to present (someone) with a gift: just the thing to gift the newlyweds.

        The dictionary documents usage, even incorrect usage. A dictionary is not a style guide. The correct way to say that is: "just the thing to give the newlyweds." Although I heard of a couple newlyweds being blendered, toastered, and vacuumed recently.

        • by Tarsir (1175373)
          Dictionaries are not authoritative, but style guides are even less so. A style guide is merely someone's opinion as to what is clear and/or aesthetically pleasing. Much to the dismay of many with strong opinions about how language should be used, myself included, the concept of correct language is mostly just a lie we tell to children to avoid having to explain the ugly truth: that no two people have exactly the same mental schema of English, and that we're just trying to make sure they line up well enough
    • "Gift" is not a verb. You cannot create a gerund from a noun.

      What's your authority for this pronouncement? There is not now and never has been in the past an official body with the ability to make pronouncements on what is and isn't allowed in the English language. There were a few half-assed attempts to write "official" grammar books in the 1800s where they made such wonderful pronouncements as "you can't split infinitives". But like it or not (note that I deliberately started my sentence - gasp! - with "But" in direct violation of such grammar books) since there

    • by Tarsir (1175373)

      "Gift" is not a verb. You cannot create a gerund from a noun.

      First, 'electronic gifting' is not a gerund. A gerund is the '-ing' form of a verb used as a noun. 'Electronic gifting' is pretty clearly an adverb and a verb. Second, the ability of a verb to serve as a noun, and vice versa, is so widespread in English, is so fundamental to how the language works, that I can't imagine why you people keep bringing this up. Go look at a list [wikipedia.org] of common verbs or nouns in English and see how many are also a noun or verb

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:27AM (#40165253)
    Giving gifts to others is something people have done for thousands of years. Doing the same thing electronically? No different, unless there is some ingenious new mechanism being used. -------- If that isn't the case, this patent is worth nothing, and will likely be overturned at the first opportunity.
    • Doing the same thing electronically?

      You must be new here (in patent land). You cannot patent math, but you can patent math on a computer! It's different, really! So what if people have been giving gifts for thousands of years (I suspect even longer than that)? It's ON A COMPUTER so it is obvious novel and needs a government-enforced monopoly to promote further innovation!

      • by edmicman (830206)

        Even better, after you patent math *on a computer*, I can turn around and patent math *on a mobile device* AND math *on the internet*!

    • by Arrepiadd (688829)

      People have been "sliding to unlock" for hundreds (if not thousands) of years also and it hasn't prevented a certain company from patenting that...

      When are we going to stop with this argument of "people have done this for X years" (where X is a large number)? It should be clear by now that either the patent system is too screwed as it is and prior art means nothing at all or that the electronic world is seen by the Patent Office as sufficiently different so that "sliding to unlock" and "gifting" can be awar

    • Giving gifts to others is something people have done for thousands of years. Doing the same thing electronically? No different, unless there is some ingenious new mechanism being used. -------- If that isn't the case, this patent is worth nothing, and will likely be overturned at the first opportunity.

      If you checked TFA, you'd find that even the article notes that there's an unusual twist here... the gift giver can cancel the gift if the recipient has not accepted it, and is not charged. Most systems require the gift giver to pay first, and if the recipient refuses, they'd have to get a refund, at best.

      • the gift giver can cancel the gift if the recipient has not accepted it, and is not charged.

        Just like when my mom takes me to buy new clothes.

      • by oxdas (2447598)

        A quick google, yielded that Ebay allows cancellation of gift certificates for up to 60 days after issuance and has been issuing these gift certificates prior to 2008.

  • by ledow (319597) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:33AM (#40165295) Homepage

    I'd be more worried if I were Steam, to be honest. I hope their prior art was taken into account.

  • guaranteed profit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by louic (1841824) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:38AM (#40165327)
    1. pick a daily activity
    2. put the word "electronic" in front of it
    3. file for patent
    4. profit
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      well you sir are infringing on my patent on electronic numbered lists that end with the word "profit"!

  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:44AM (#40165367)
    A Dan Brown [ or Insert your own Author here ] e-book would be a punishment and not a gift. I call patent for punishment e-book giving.
  • by spikenerd (642677) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:48AM (#40165409)
    Thank you USPTO for gifting another piece of my mind to someone else. If I sell you the moon, does it then belong to you, or are you just an idiot for paying for it?
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:52AM (#40165447) Homepage
    Nintendo has had this service for years. You've been able to send games as gifts on Wii Shop Channel for quite a while., when the released the console, if not shortly after. Actually, I just checked, and the patent was filed September 30, 2008 [uspto.gov], which was well after the release of the Nintendo Wii, and Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] states that the gift feature was introduced on December 10, 2007. Well before the patent was filed. This isn't some kind of prior art that nobody knew about. This is something very obvious that the patent office should have seen as a reason to reject the patent.
    • Nintendo has had this service for years. You've been able to send games as gifts on Wii Shop Channel for quite a while., when the released the console, if not shortly after. Actually, I just checked, and the patent was filed September 30, 2008 [uspto.gov], which was well after the release of the Nintendo Wii, and Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] states that the gift feature was introduced on December 10, 2007. Well before the patent was filed. This isn't some kind of prior art that nobody knew about. This is something very obvious that the patent office should have seen as a reason to reject the patent.

      Did Nintendo's gift feature not bill you until the recipient accepted the game, or would it allow you to cancel the gift if it hadn't been redeemed? Or, more likely, did it bill you immediately and deliver the game?

      If the latter, then it's not anticipatory prior art. The claims of this patent explicitly require:

      determining whether the gift has been accepted using the access mechanism; when the determination is that the gift has not been accepted, enabling the giver to cancel the gift such that no payment is processed; and when the determination is that the gift has been accepted, initiating payment by a payment mechanism associated with the giver.

      • Sounds almost exactly like a Steam gift, with the minor exception that the payment wouldn't be up front. Determining whether the gift has been accepted, re-sending to another person, even allowing the recipient to "forward" it to someone else or outright decline it is all part of Steam.

        • Sounds almost exactly like a Steam gift, with the minor exception that the payment wouldn't be up front.

          That's in the patent claims, though, so to invalidate the patent, you have to find another reference that includes that bit.

          Determining whether the gift has been accepted, re-sending to another person, even allowing the recipient to "forward" it to someone else or outright decline it is all part of Steam.

          Those are actually only in dependent claims. This patent rises or falls on the fact that the gift giver isn't charged until after the recipient has accepted, and the gift giver can cancel the gift prior to acceptance ance is never charged.

          It also means that if Steam doesn't do that, then Steam doesn't infringe.

          • by oxdas (2447598)

            So, this is really not a software patent at all. It is a patent on the concept of not charging someone until their gift certificate is redeemed.

            If I issued a plastic gift card that required a credit card on file from the giver and did not bill them until the gift had been redeemed, while allowing them to cancel the gift card, could this idea be patented if not involving a computer (or is it already)? If not, then simply putting "computer-implemented" with it should not change that IMHO. If so, then I am s

        • by Talderas (1212466)

          I'm pretty sure Steam doesn't behave like Amazon's patent. The time I made a gift in Steam I was charged that day and the game immediately showed up in my friend's list of games without him having to do anything.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      I don't see a claim that the Wii Shop Channel infringes on, which do you think it does?

  • by will_die (586523) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @09:13AM (#40165615) Homepage
    The patent is for a system where you can setup condition on the gifts you are given and before they are shipped allows you to change them, even sending you notification on what the original item was.
    For example, person X gives you a some new book, you have previously setup a condition that all gifts get converted to gift cards. You receive notification that they sent you the book and you can then use the gift card to purchase anything you want.
    I guess it saves some time and money of shipping the product back but who is really going to use it?
    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Then why even apply for it? Not that it's not another prime example of the overhaul needed and not gotten of late in the patent system.

  • From TFA:

    There is one unusual twist: The patent describes the ability for the giver to delay payment until the recipient has accepted the digital gift, or cancel the order (and avoid payment) if the gift hasn’t been accepted and downloaded by the recipient after a certain period of time.

    The FA goes on to say:

    However, rest of the patent describes ideas that will seem less than novel to most people who use the Internet.

    ... and, so what? If the patent describes something unusual and nonobvious, then the fact that it also describes computers, or the Internet, or TCP, or anything else is irrelevant, provided the patent claims - the only part with any legal weight - recite that unusual, nonobvious bit.

    Here's the method claim:

    16. A computer-implemented method to enable selection of an electronically transferrable item that is electronically deliverable from a network resource to be presented as a gift, the computer-implemented method comprising:
    obtaining a selection of an electronically transferrable item that is electronically deliverable from a network resource to be presented as a gift to a recipient from a giver;
    generating a gift notification to be presented to the recipient, wherein the gift notification includes an access mechanism to enable the recipient to accept the gift as a one-time delivery without requiring the recipient to hold an account with the network resource;
    determining whether the gift has been accepted using the access mechanism;
    when the determination is that the gift has not been accepted, enabling the giver to cancel the gift such that no payment is processed; and
    when the determination is that the gift has been accepted, initiating payment by a payment mechanism associated with the giver.

    Those last two steps are that "unusual twist" that the article admits is in there.

    Incidentally, if you want to invalidate a patent by showing sufficient prior art exists, you have to show prior art exists for each and every claim element. Not that gifts exist, or that Christmas exists, or that something with a similar title or abstract exists. To invalidate this patent, you need to find a reference, published or in use prior to Sept. 30, 2008, that enabled a giver to cancel a gift if the gift has not been accepted, or would initiate payment if the gift had been accepted. Most systems would bill first, deliver second, and if the recipient declined, you had a long fight for a refund ahead of you.

    • by gr8_phk (621180)

      However, rest of the patent describes ideas that will seem less than novel to most people who use the Internet.

      ... and, so what? If the patent describes something unusual and nonobvious, then the fact that it also describes computers, or the Internet, or TCP, or anything else is irrelevant, provided the patent claims - the only part with any legal weight - recite that unusual, nonobvious bit.

      The "unusual and nonobvious" part then has to do with a business transaction - terms of payment. IIRC business meth

      • The "unusual and nonobvious" part then has to do with a business transaction - terms of payment. IIRC business methods are out or on the way out for patents. In the real world part of this is covered by sending products C.O.D. (cash on delivery).

        I think your gift recipient would be mighty pissed off if you send them a gift C.O.D.

  • by hack slash (1064002) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @09:28AM (#40165717)
    PayPal have a payment option called "gift" which is a payment method not intended for purchasing items as the sender cannot file a "item not received" type complaint against the recipient to get the money back.

    And everyone knows that money is one of the best gifts to receive, so are Amazon going to go after PayPal? That would be funny, it's not like they're small companies..
    • PayPal have a payment option called "gift" which is a payment method not intended for purchasing items as the sender cannot file a "item not received" type complaint against the recipient to get the money back.

      Important distinctions. As you note, with PayPal, you pay first, the recipient declines and the sender can file an item not received complaint and get a refund. That's the opposite of the patent, which recites:

      determining whether the gift has been accepted using the access mechanism; when the determination is that the gift has not been accepted, enabling the giver to cancel the gift such that no payment is processed; and when the determination is that the gift has been accepted, initiating payment by a payment mechanism associated with the giver.

      In the patent, the gift giver is not billed until the recipient accepts... and the gift giver can cancel prior to the recipient accepting the gift, and they're never billed. There's no refund process required.

      PayPal isn't anticipatory prior art, but it also doesn't infringe.

  • How do you get a patent on something your competitors have been doing for years?
  • People gift me hats in TF2 and have for years.

  • I'm going to patent the process of applying for patents! Seriously, what is this madness? It's not like I needed further encouragement to vote for the Pirate Party.
  • "Simply giving your mother an ebook"... Ok. The patent is absurd. In fact, it's absurd enough that we don't have to add this sensationalist FUD.

    This sounds like the average Joe is involved in patent infringement, when in fact it's the company's website that violates a patent. Additionally, there's no need to add "your mother" to the mix. It makes it more dramatic and sinister for sure, but please, drop the hyperbole.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    ""Simply giving your mother an e-book for her birthday could constitute patent infringement "
    once again, someone has no clue how the patent system works, and everyone will use this chance to show how ignorant they are of the patent system.

  • When my parents sent me money they would do it with an electronic transfer. It was certainly a gift so how is this patent novel?
  • Well, email, but it's just whistling on the phone. Sort of.
  • Seems to me like the time to go out and patent my method of not charging for "non-gift" purchased items until delivery, and allowing of canceling the order prior to delivery.

  • Here is an intersting Google Talk about The Patent Polution Problem [youtube.com]

    Some intersting statistics about patents:

    • Number of patents issues each week: 4,500
    • Average hours review application: 19
    • To apply a patent: $1,250
    • To issue a patent: $1,740
    • To maintain a patent: $8,710

    The revierer spends only 19 hours for each patent to review it, find prior-art, etc. The USPTO makes 10 times as much money if they grant the patent (apply free+issue fee+maintant fee) as if they deny the patent (only apply fee).

    • Patents l

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