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USPTO Imposes 'Undue Hardship' On 1-Click Lawyers 96

theodp writes "Looks like Amazon's high-priced Silicon Valley attorneys will have to endure the 'undue hardship' of awakening early next Thursday morning to defend CEO Jeff Bezos' 1-Click patent in a Video Hearing before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. The attorneys' plea for a 1 p.m. ET start time drew a be-there-at-9-or-be-square response from the USPTO. The 1-Click patent has fallen into disfavor lately with USPTO Examiners, who no longer have the same boss who once sent a 1-Click love letter to the WSJ arguing that the merits of Amazon's patent were proven by a contest run by a Jeff Bezos-financed company, an argument that was later rejected by Congress."
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USPTO Imposes 'Undue Hardship' On 1-Click Lawyers

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  • Timezones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adam1234 ( 696497 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @12:26PM (#20521315)
    They're not really complaining about the fact that it's 9 AM, but that in their timezone it will be only 6 AM. It's hardly fair to fault them for that.
    • it's a court ordered time, time frame, this isn't "undue hardship", hell a lot of people start the work day at six, or work to accommodate a different time zone. These guys are bozos unless lawyers are subject to different (more relaxed) labor laws than everyone else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by belmolis ( 702863 )

        It's one thing to be accustomed to starting work at 06:00 and quite another for someone who normally starts work at, say, 09:00 to have to do something at 06:00, especially something like law for which you have to be alert. It isn't the early hour per se that is the problem, its the difference from what they are accustomed to. For those of us older than 2^5, such deviations from one's normal schedule can be pretty disruptive. I think it is quite reasonable for Amazon's lawyers to ask that the hearing be he

        • For those of us older than 2^5

          Huh? You mean 32?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          "For those of us older than 2^5, such deviations from one's normal schedule can be pretty disruptive."

          Wow...just wow...2^5? I'm left wondering if you intentionally planned that out, doing the math on purpose, or just naturally think of your age in multiples of 2...either one leaves me simultaneously frightened and wanting to learn more...

          And yeah, it's unfair to ask someone used to getting up at a certain time to get up 3 hours earlier when there's no good reason (no matter the age). But calling it an undue
        • Why is it a problem for the Patent Office to hold the hearing at 13:00, well within their normal work hours?
          Lunch break?
          • by David_W ( 35680 )

            Why is it a problem for the Patent Office to hold the hearing at 13:00, well within their normal work hours?
            Lunch break?

            I'd imagine that's why they asked for 13:00 (10:00 PT), not 12:00 (9:00 PT).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's not the starting time, it's the change in starting time.

        I know it makes a difference for me. I live in southern California. When I do business in Chicago, I'm a little fuzzy for the first day. So I go a day earlier. I pay for an extra day's food and an extra night's lodging. And when I'm at a convention, making decisions worth thousands of dollars per hour, being more alert more than compensates for the extra expenses.

        For guys who have millions hanging on this, it is a relevant issue. I'd a
      • by eggegg ( 754560 )
        Mr. Bezos has been, up to this point, subject to different (more relaxed) laws than everyone else (one-click) -- it shouldn't be much of a surprise when Bezos' Bozos(TM) request similar accomodation by the Federal government.
    • Re:Timezones (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @12:35PM (#20521369) Homepage
      How much are they being paid?
      • Re:Timezones (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Helios1182 ( 629010 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @12:43PM (#20521413)
        More than enough to wake up early one day.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by geekboy642 ( 799087 )
          There needs to be a "+1, Hell yeah!" option for mods.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        $245-$465+ per hour, according to TFA.
        • And what about any witnesses or such? Are these people being paid that much as well?

          If ONLY lawyers were involved I'd say yeah, suck it up. I'm expecting that more people will be forced to leave home at 3am to get ready for this court case then the lawyers we mock.
        • A little piece of me just died.

          Maybe I could sue the lawyers for undue hardship!
      • by Myopic ( 18616 )
        $245-$465 per hour, according to the article
    • Just think how many workers start work at 6 AM.

      • The sun isn't even out at 6am! Are we supposed to stumble around outside in the dark trying to find our way to work? Shit man, I don't leave the house until the sun has been up at least 2 hours.
        • I wake up every morning at 5:15am and am waiting at a bus stop at 6:00am five days a week, unless I come in early, which is about 5:00. I lack even the smallest amount of sympathy, fuck 'em if they can't get up early. for hundreds of dollars and hour.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Regardless of the time zone, my boss does not consider it "undue hardship" when a system failure occurs at 2am and I am required to promptly attend to the matter. Whether this effort requires driving 45 minutes each way to the data center or VPN'ing in to the network, I'm still up and working at 2am...and I don't make anywhere near $400/hr. I'm not complaining, mind you. I just accept this as part of the job, as should they. Suck it up and show up boys and girls.
    • They have plenty of time to fly out and get acclimatised.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spyowl ( 838397 )
      Errr... They refused to attend the hearing in person that they themselves requested! Now they are claiming undue hardhip because they are in a different timezone? What if they were on vacation in Turkey? Would they have asked the office to open at midnight and video conference them in because any other time it would be an "undue hardship" for the timezone the lawyers reside in?
    • Re:Timezones (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mikelieman ( 35628 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:31PM (#20521751) Homepage
      They CHOSE to have it via teleconference.

      They are OBLIGATED to travel to the Court in DC. They got what they asked for.

      • FINALLY! (Score:3, Funny)

        by raehl ( 609729 )
        I can finally cash in on my patent for defending a patent reexamination... via teleconference.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mbone ( 558574 )
      It's a freaking phone call, for goodness sake. They're lucky they didn't have to show up here in Alexandria at 9:00 AM EDT.

      They probably shouldn't try doing any business with India or China or Japan.
    • Whoop-de-shit. When I lived on the west coast, I had a job interview on the east coast where I was picked up at my hotel at 7AM after arriving on a flight that arrived at midnight. This interview was 4AM my time, and I think I got up at something like 2:30 my time. Hell, what researcher hasn't attended a conference on the east coast that started at 8AM (run by sadists, no doubt).

      They can suck it up. If it's really that big a deal, and they want to be nice and refreshed, spend a couple of days getting

    • by lysse ( 516445 )
      Come now. Surely they could just do a bit more coke than usual and stay up til then?
  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @12:38PM (#20521389) Homepage
    Does the fate of Amazon hang on which its exclusive rights to 1-click shopping? I am incredulous. What matters to me is the variety of the products, the quality of the products, the prompt arrival at my condominium, and the state of the product upon arrival. Amazon has defied the critics and proven to be a successful business model due to those 4 aspects.

    Often, customers cannot find the right product in the local store, which has a policy that "if it is not on the shelf, it is not in stock"; in response, customers can go to Amazon and likely find the exact product that they want. Amazon is the ultimate mail-order company online. it has taken the traditional Montgomery-Wards catalog, increased its size by a factor of 1000, and put it on the Web. Gosh. Can you even buy polonium-210 at Amazon?

    In short, Amazon is wasting money in trying to defend this patent. Can the typical customer be so stupid that 1-less-mouse-click is the deciding factor in whether to buy stuff at Amazon?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Loconut1389 ( 455297 )
      I -hate- one click anyway. For Amazon Video, it either geos to the wrong TiVo or to a desktop I no longer have and for real products it uses the wrong card for the money I have that week. I use Amazon a lot, but I hate and will never use one click.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It absolutely doesn't. According to this open letter [] it's more of a stepping stone towards a larger crusade of reforming software and business model patents. I agree with some of the points he is making in the open letter. I for one would love to see a patent law that eliminates trolling. Patents should be limited to those making the real investment to bring an invention to market.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      In short, Amazon is wasting money in trying to defend this patent. Can the typical customer be so stupid that 1-less-mouse-click is the deciding factor in whether to buy stuff at Amazon?

      You might be forgetting that Amazon uses this patent (and has a verifiable record of having used it) to squash competitors by suing them if they put up competing web sites, doing the obvious thing.
      It's not about what Amazon does themselves, it's an offensive weapon in their arsenal, just like their "Referral" patent, which p

      • So tell me, is there a process in place whereby a company can recoup legal costs when a litigious patent holder turns out to be holding a pile of nothing?
        • So tell me, is there a process in place whereby a company can recoup legal costs when a litigious patent holder turns out to be holding a pile of nothing?

          The issuance of a patent by the USPTO provides a preliminary presumption of validity. So if I obtain a patent on orange trees, and sue the crap out of everyone who grows orange trees without shelling out big bucks to me, I'm not really acting in bad faith. Because the USPTO provided that presumption of validity, it's not like I'm just making wild-ass,

          • I'd take issue with labeling Amazon a troll, given that they're practicing their invention.
            • I'd take issue with labeling Amazon a troll, given that they're practicing their invention.

              I didn't mean to imply that Amazon is a troll. The dividing line for me is that a troll never intends to actually bring a product or service to market. I was answering the larger question and should have been more careful in the subject line. Thanks for the correction.

    • Amazon can't be THAT good...I've survived just fine without it. I vowed never to order anything from that company, and I've made good on it.
  • The number listed was ISDN ###-###-####. Are people still using ISDN? No wonder the USPTO is a bit behind.
    • by JoelKatz ( 46478 )
      I use ISDN. I live in the mountains of northern California. I'm out of range of DSL and cable. Satellite providers don't seem to offer business-class service and have terms of use that you'd have to be an idiot to agree to.
    • It would be a real pity if lots and lots and lots of people called that number at that time and Amazon's lawyers couldn't get through.
    • Some people are still using analog copper wire for their voice systems.

      Crazy, I know.
    • For videoconferencing it's great. 4 channel ISDN = 256 kbps in each direction, which is fine for a single video/audio stream. You don't have to worry about congestion or security (NAT, firewalls, logins, passwords, all that stuff). Your connection is point-to-point, not through the internet. Just dial the number and wait for the other side to pick up.

      But you're right, there aren't many people using ISDN to connect to an ISP, especially in the home.
    • by Maserati ( 8679 )
      In the US you'll generally only find ISDN being used for videoconferencing. My experience is that a lot of companies are going to keep their ISDN lines for this purpose. A 256k/384k video stream looks surprisingly good on a boardroom sized screen.
    • Definitely, for videoconferencing. Point-to-point videoconferencing setups are still very much with us. The tech works, and works well, and people have plunked a lot of money into it, so they're disinclined to rip out a perfectly good videoconferencing setup to spend $10k plus on a new IP infrastructure.
  • They're supposed to be professionals, so go they just need to bed earlier and get up in time for the hearing. Getting up a couple hours early is NOT an "undue hardship" by any stretch of the imagination. Just bill the client the "off hours" rate multiplier and be done with it.
  • Two choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:09PM (#20521595) Homepage
    Choice 1: Just get out of bed on time for that day.

    Choice 2: Get hotel in correct timezone, fly there two days before.

    et voila.

    • Choice 3: start the hearing at 1PM Eastern
    • by abb3w ( 696381 )

      Choice 2: Get hotel in correct timezone, fly there two days before.

      ...and count all 48 hours as billable hours. Seems the obvious choice. Maybe make it a week, just to be on the safe side.

      (I am not a lawyer. Even if I were a lawyer, no-one in their right mind would want me as their lawyer.)

  • Patenting Ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:09PM (#20521599)
    Although there may be valid prior art for the one-click patent, the real issue with me is that you can't and shouldn't be able to patent ideas. This is one of the most bizarre and unfair things I've ever heard of. If I had the time and money I'm sure I could patent two-click, three-click and all the other click shopping experiences. I would have a virtual monopoly on shopping. But stupid is as stupid does. Let's hope things improve.
    • You should be able to patent business models and concepts that give you a competitive advantage. The patent should include the mechanics of how the concept is implemented, and how it will be used. This would help eliminated patents being issues on abstract ideas, and limit them to companies and individuals that have a marketable idea that requires some protection.
      • You should be able to patent business models and concepts that give you a competitive advantage.

        Really? I've looked all through the Constitution, and I don't see anything about patenting concepts that give a competitive advantage. Some mumbo-jumbo about "promoting progress in the useful Arts and Sciences" is about as far as it goes.

        If allowing corporations to own "concepts" promotes progress in anything except that particular corporation's stock price, I sure haven't seen evidence of it.
        • Yeah but that's exactly what that sentence means. You appear to be alleging that the patent system was originally meant for the "greater good". I suppose in a global sense that could be true but patents were always meant to provide for a reward for people who came up with something new.
        • So say I invent a new business model for taking online orders, let's call it 0-click. I invest thousands of dollars to start an online store that makes it easiest for users to make orders and processes them faster than any other store. But since according to you business models should not be patentable, then almighty just adopts my 0-click invention and becomes even richer while stomping my startup store to the ground. You think will give me any money out of their kind hearts for my in
          • You think will give me any money out of their kind hearts for my invention? Does that sound fair to you

            It isn't a question of what "sounds fair." It's a question of what the law says. The law says that only specific implementations, not vague concepts, can be patented. One-Click should never have been allowed as a patentable invention, because it is a concept, rather than an implementation.

            But hey, if you think the value you add as a retailer has anything to do with the number of clicks needed
      • You should be able to patent business models and concepts that give you a competitive advantage.

        I don't see this as being practical or fair. Business models and concepts are things that everybody and anybody can (and often does) think of. It can only be used for monopolizing the market (on that idea) by patent trolls and the like. Common sense concepts like a one-click shopping experience do not take years of research and development and millions of dollars of investment to create, like developing an anti-c

    • All inventions are ideas and hence all patents cover ideas. The way I look at it is the one-click patent is too obvious. The problem is it is difficult to make a qualitative description of 'novelty' and 'innovation'. It is like porn, we know it when we see it but we can not define it.
      • by wfberg ( 24378 )
        All inventions are ideas and hence all patents cover ideas.

        But not all ideas are inventions.

        "It would be neat to have some sort of miniaturized labrador dog that is trained to attack cancer cells" is an idea.

        "Here's a 23 step program to train labrador dogs to attack cancer cells once they're miniturized" and "Here's how to build a miniturization ray machine" are inventions. And the latter is patentable even though the idea of a miniturization ray machine is obvious to anyone who's seen "Honey, I shrunk the
        • I actually wrote up a reply in notepad similar to yours, but it didn't sound very easily understandable so I gave up. Kudos for an eloquent explanation.
  • ... the real story is on the one-click patent. As it will indicate if the USPTO is even in teh smallest way serious of reform.
  • I have a lot of sympathy for people who just want to do research, but the free market is not supposed to provide a safety net that ensures that people only get to do what they want to do. That's why I like the new patent bill. It's a step forward, even if it's not perfect, because it puts more safeguards into place and allows judges to use more objective standards to award damages []. So what if Amazon ends up getting badly hurt by losing this patent? They're a retailer. Their role in the market is to sell, no
    • So what if Amazon ends up getting badly hurt by losing this patent?

      If this patent is a. truly valuable and b. illegitimate, then odds are other companies were unfairly hurt by Amazons possession of it. Time to even the score.
  • Maybe they prefer 1pm court hearings because it takes them a long time to ensure that their SPF 10000 cream is safely and completely on all vulnerable parts AND the Sun is available for "controlled tests" before they leave the safety of their homes.

    If they left earlier they wouldn't be able to do the "smoke tests" - no sunlight ;).

    e.g. "Oops missed a spot there - my pinky is smoking in the sunlight".

    Hey, lawyers were people too ;).
  • It makes far more sense to arrange meetings in PST than EST, so why is it happening in DC?

    The one-click patent is bullshit, but this is just the USPTO being arrogant eastern bastards.
  • They don't know what hardship is... I say toss the Perrier sippin' pansies in solitary with Bubba at the triple-max prison, then they'd learn the real meaning of hardship... hehe. I'd say these patent trolls are long overdue for hardships.

    I have yet to understand it's merits of this patent, aside from the obvious financial benefits attorneys gain from it. I wonder if anyone has done any consumer behavior analysis related to 1-click vs. more than 1-click.

    To date, behavior models include more significan
  • Why bother? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ArtieP ( 1100151 )
    I've shopped at Amazon for as many years as I can remember them being around, and I have never even used the 1-click checkout. I don't know about you, but when I'm placing an order online, I like to double check everything throughout the checkout process to make sure all the information is correct every time, rather than click once and assume it is.
    • by icydog ( 923695 )
      I used it a couple of weeks ago... accidentally. I thought I was doing things the way I always used to, so that there would be a confirmation screen, but there wasn't. I had to cancel the order because it was placed to the wrong shipping address.
  • After hours of research for a product, clicking hundreds of times, or, browsing the current list of top-selling books at amazon to read the summaies (tens of clicks), please do not tell me that 5 clicks which enable you to have a quick check on the final sum of money, the product, and the shipping address are anyhow disturbing you!
  • While I have no truck for Amazon's ridiculous 1-click patent or the social parasite-patent lawyers who defend it, I'm sick and tired of getting awakened nearly every day by some %^&* back-East headhunter who doesn't get that, since I live in SoCal, this means I am on Pacific Time and it's not OK to call me at 6 AM. Especially because most of the time their job requires that I relocate to some one-Waffle-House flyover town back East.
  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Sunday September 09, 2007 @02:24AM (#20526465) Journal
    For anyone who might seriously not know what the one-click feature is for, it's the impulse buying button. Someone sees something they think is AWESOME, they say "Whoa I gotta have that!" and hastily hit the one-click-purchase button. The idea is that the customer won't go through the lengthy ordeal of cancelling the order afterwards. I'm sure there are people dumb enough to fall for such a silly tactic, but I was very careful to make sure I had it turned OFF when this feature was implemented. And even now it sits on the right hand side of my Amazon pages waiting to be turned on. I'd like it turned off thank you very much, as I'd like to review my order carefully before placing it, and I'd hate to accidentally click on it (a real possibility with a pesky laptop touchpad) while taking a look at a PS3, high-end gaming system, or fancy new smartphone.

    It's a silly gimmick, but it must be making money for Amazon to go through this much trouble over it.
  • The patent application that this refers to is NOT the original one-click patent that was used against Barnes and Noble, and was the subject of the Bountyquest contest etc. The one this post refers to is a much later but similar application filed by Amazon that hasn't issued yet. The original one-click patent was issued as patent number 5,960,411 and is currently the subject of a reexamination request filed by a blogger from New Zealand, Peter Calveley. See []

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly