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Amazon Goes Web 2.0 Wild to Defend 1-Click Patent 77

theodp writes "Six years ago, Jeff Bezos and Tim O'Reilly urged the masses to give-patent-reform-a-chance as Richard Stallman called for an Amazon boycott. On Monday, the pair will reunite to kick off O'Reilly's new Amazon-sponsored Web 2.0 Expo with A Conversation with Jeff Bezos. Be interesting if the conversation turned to Amazon's ongoing battle against an actor's effort to topple Bezos' 1-Click patent, which The Register notes included dumping 58 lbs. of paperwork on the patent examiner, including dozens of articles from the oh-so-Web-2.0 Wikipedia, which the USPTO had already deemed an un acceptable source of information ('From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,' quipped patent expert Greg Aharonian)."
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Amazon Goes Web 2.0 Wild to Defend 1-Click Patent

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  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:47AM (#18750409)
    It is indeed.

    There's disagreeable things in this article - Amazon's ludicrous patent, the whole concept of Web 2.0, and The Register in general. So, it's nice to come away with something that's patently ('scuse the pun) obviously true. Wiki citations are most surely toilet paper, and not just from a legal POV.
  • by Lockejaw ( 955650 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:51AM (#18750457)
    The headline directly says that Amazon plans to use the Web 2.0 Expo to defend the one-click patent.
    The summary speculates that Bezos might get called out over the one-click patent.
    The article says... wait... this isn't summarizing any article.

    So what's happened? Nothing new. What's going to happen? Very possibly nothing new.
  • by ThurlMakes7 ( 937619 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:57AM (#18750539)
    O'Reilly's behavior is truly despicable. Here's a guy who got rich promoting open source and intellectual property freedom. But as soon as he gets the chance to cuddle up to the IP holders, he sells out his principles.

    From the FTA:

    Millionaire tech publisher Tim O'Reilly once vowed to torpedo's 1-Click patent. Against a backdrop of widespread outrage over Amazon's aggressive use of the patent, O'Reilly created a contest to find prior art to undermine the IP claim, and thus invalidate the patent. However, O'Reilly quietly dropped the campaign; saying he would never disclose it because he trusted CEO Bezos not to use it.

    Following that cockle-warming tribute to his integrity, Bezos became a regular star turn at O'Reilly's web evangelism conferences. These days, O'Reilly's VC fund AlphaTech Ventures is supported by Bezos, and represented by the same firm of attorneys, Fenwick & West, which is defending against Peter Calveley.

    Never accuse these moguls of permitting ethics to stand in the way of getting rich.

    O'Reilly has the money and the influence to help strike out this dumb patent, but he chooses not to do so. It would be a nice irony if the USPTO threw it out because Tim's chum Jeff used Wikipedia. I'd laugh my fricking ass off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:58AM (#18750561)
    On the other hand, if the technology you are trying to patent is already described on wikipedia, it is quite disingenious to claim that you are deserving of a 20-year monopoly. The whole premise of patents is that without the monopoly, the invention would not be publicized. Wikipedia is much more widely read than some niche publication like Journal of Interdisciplinary Tribology, which would count as a publication of prior art in the context of patent law.
  • by PyroMosh ( 287149 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:59AM (#18750567) Homepage
    Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.

    But there is no black or white here. Wikipedia is not apropriate for serious use, where it's important to be correct. But it's a massive quick and dirty database. If I want to know what X is and I've never heard of it, I can go to wikipedia and get an overview. If the authors did their due dilligence, I can find a decent collection of links off site that will tell me a bit abotu the subject matter.

    Wikipedia can be a useful tool. Just not for most important applications.

    Let's use a programming analogy. The "right" way to deploy a new application cross platform would be to code it in C or Java, or some other language apropriate to the task, and fine tune each version for each platform, and hunt for bugs on each platform. Annother, quick, relativly painless way, if it were an unimportant, trivial task, would be to just put together a web based Java applett, or perhaps even a flash object if it's simple enough. Hell, millions do this with YouTube, every day because it's "good enough". Even though an MPEG, MOV, AVI, or other video file played in a stand alone player would be "better".

  • by PatentMagus ( 1083289 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:03AM (#18750611)
    A wiki page is great if it is timestamped. A wiki page is a publication and can be used to establish prior art.

    The "patent expert" might as well have said The journal of machine intelligence and pattern recognition is toilet paper because the pages change from issue to issue.

    If could take an examiner, or anyone else, to a wiki version dated before the filing date of a patent, then I think it can be used to establish prior art.

    Even if the USPTO says it won't accept the wiki, a court could over rule them.

  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:19AM (#18750833)
    From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,' quipped patent expert Greg Aharonian.

    And from any sane person's point of view, 99% of comments from patent experts are toilet paper, which is why we're in such a mess today.

    So, it's beautifully symmetric. Patent lawyers and Wikipedia were made for each other. :-)

    Although in Wikipedia's defence, it gets it right ***far*** more often. :-)

    In any case, Wikipedia can always be corrected, and very easily, that's the power of it. Whereas the only way of correcting a patent lawyer is with a lobotomy.
  • by user24 ( 854467 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:51AM (#18751309)
    sure, if you dig through the entire history of the article to make sure that the bit you're citing/using/reading has survived the almost non-existent "peer review process", then you can be sure of.. what? that it isn't vandalism? no - it could have just slipped through the net (and when you're looking for something like a date, who's going to know if the battle of actium gets changed from 31 to 32 BC?).

    The difference between wikipedia and normal websites is that normal websites aren't editable by just anyone. So, if the general quality of a webpage is high, then you can reasonably assume that the quality of any given citation is likely to be high. But that just isn't the case with wikipedia; just because article one (or even paragraph one) is well written and researched, that doesn't even go a little way to showing that article/paragraph two is going to be.
  • by The Great Pretender ( 975978 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @12:21PM (#18751759)
    Surely the main position on Wiki and patents is disclosure. If the idea has been disclosed publicly prior to one year (? - INAL) then it can't be patented. So if some one has placed it in a public Wiki it surely must be considered publicly disclosed? The follow up may be a law suit against who ever made it public (not necessarily in the Wiki) if a breach of confidentiality was involved.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court