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Amazon Patents the Milkman 365

theodp writes "Got Milk? Got Milk Delivery Patent? Perhaps unfamiliar with the concept of the Milkman, the USPTO has granted Amazon.com a patent for the Recurring Delivery of Products , an idea five Amazon inventors came up with to let customers schedule product deliveries to their doorsteps or mailboxes on a recurring basis, without needing to submit a new order every time. 'For instance,' the filing explains, 'a customer may request delivery of one bunch of bananas every week and two gallons of milk every two weeks.'"
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Amazon Patents the Milkman

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @03:41PM (#42836057) Homepage

    Columbia House did this years ago. I know many people get their oil or propane delivered regularly. TFS points out the milkman. Newspapers have been delivered for a long time.

    This is a business process, not an invention from what I can tell.

    Yet another patent which is a "system and methodology for doing something we've been doing for decades, but with a computer".

    Epic fail to the USPTO.

  • What if? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @03:47PM (#42836151)

    Are Amazon deliberately trying to discredit the USPTO, or even the entire patent system?

    This patent fails on so many criteria: prior art, lack of novelty, obvious. If it's granted, it's a crock.


  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday February 08, 2013 @04:01PM (#42836353) Homepage Journal
    That's what "defensive publication" is for. Any invention that one publishes can't later be patented by someone else.
  • Re:It's official (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Friday February 08, 2013 @04:07PM (#42836411)

    Apparently, you can take any patent in the database, copy-pasta in a word processing document, go to the end of the document and add these characters:

    ....ON A COMPUTER!

    And you have a new patent, ready for filing.

    In a 2007 ruling [wikipedia.org] the Supreme Court said these sorts of "combination patents" are not valid. So I can't see how the USPTO can justify continuing to issue them.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @04:18PM (#42836555)

    I used to have vitamins shipped to me every couple months on a subscription basis. I'd be very curious as to what about this patent is novel in any way.

  • Re:We're doomed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @04:33PM (#42836759)

    The inventor of that, William Murdoch, actually didn't patent it because James Watt Jr informed him that it wasn't patentable.

    James Watt's father, the more famous James Watt of steam engine fame, then went on to steal the idea for himself.

    *The* Watt is remembered as the father of the steam engine. His true contribution to history wasn't really technological: He invented patent trolling. Boulton and Watt's firm dominated the industrial revolution by systematically patenting every little detail they could come up with, right down to individual layouts of gears, and then letting the lawyers loose on anyone who dared compete. Far from advancing steam technology, he deliberately held it back, fearful that smaller and more practical engine technology would be disruptive to his highly profitable business manufacturing large stationary engines. Murdoch eventually became a partner in the firm once it passed from Sr to Jr, having established his loyalty both by his skill at invention and his willingness to perform industrial espionage - offering assistance to unsuspecting inventors and smaller steam firms, only so he could gain access to their workshops and later testify in court that he had seen them using mechanisms patented by Watt.

  • by udippel ( 562132 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @04:34PM (#42836771)

    We were used to plentiful of uninformed /. 'news' over the last decade on patents and stuff; when 'filing' and 'granted' was considered the same, effectively, and lots of nonsense, like the contents of the abstract being considered as the underlying idea, or even as the legally binded grant, and much more.

    In a nutshell, I expected the same, yet again, and was almost reluctant to even go into the details and actually read the document.
    It is a patent
    It does grant what the summary said

    There is a comment from AC further up ("Bad summary of patent") stating correctly that it does contain a last minute change as necessity for potential infringement. True. But I can't believe that there is no anticipating document before 2009, where a recurring delivery system of any sorts had a 'last check' of possible modifications by the customer before the actual delivery.

    Much too often, I had to come to the defense of my former colleagues in patent examination. In this case, however, I need to agree when someone questioned if there are signs of life left in the office.
    Actually, I doubt it.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"