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Amazon Patents Electronic Gifting 164

theodp writes "Simply giving your mother an e-book for her birthday could constitute patent infringement now that the USPTO's gone and awarded a patent on the 'Electronic Gifting' of items such as music, movies, television programs, games, or books. BusinessInsider speculates that the patent may be of concern to Facebook, which just dropped a reported $80 million on social gift-giving app maker Karma Science."
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Amazon Patents Electronic Gifting

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  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @08:30AM (#40165279)

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


    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 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 [], which was well after the release of the Nintendo Wii, and Wikipedia [] 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:What about steam? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @10:02AM (#40166065)

    It won't affect Steam at all. With Steam you buy the gift and it is immediately given to the recipient's account. There's no denial or acceptance and the charge is immediate. Amazon's patent is for a system that allows the gift recipient to deny the gift and not allow payment processing to go through until the gift was accepted or to permit the person giving the gift to be able to withdraw it before it was accepted.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.