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USPTO's 1-Click Indecisiveness Enters 5th Year

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the one-puff-candles-on-the-cake dept.

Government 36

theodp writes "When it comes to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' 1-Click patent, the USPTO is an agency that just can't say no. Or yes. It's now been 4+ years since actor Peter Calveley submitted prior art that triggered a USPTO reexamination of the 1-Click patent. Still no 'final answer' from the USPTO, although an Examiner recently issued yet another Final Rejection of 1-Click related claims (pdf), admonishing Amazon for making him 'sift through hundreds of submitted references to identify what applicant allegedly has already submitted,' which he complained is 'adding an undue burden' to his workload. Looks like Bezos' 2000 pledge of 'less work for the overworked Patent and Trademark Office' isn't working out so well in practice. Not too surprising — after all, Amazon did inform Congress that it 'has modified its specific [patent] reform proposals from the year 2000.'"

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cock enters your mouth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213306)

also, first post.

Simple solution ... (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213342)

Paging Captain Obvious: If you can't figure it out in 5 years, then the application is obviously too vague, or otherwise defective, to be granted a patent!

Gee, do I have to do ALL your thinking for you?

Re:Simple solution ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213380)

It seems as if that's what the patent examiner has been trying to do for the past five years. Nice job claiming credit for the idea, though.

How MUCH is that DOGGY in the WINDOW? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213688)

How MUCH is that DOGGY in the WINDOW?

Re:Simple solution ... (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213744)

That's because Amazon has patented 1-click patenting as well and they won't let anyone use it.

Re:Simple solution ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213810)

That's because Amazon has patented 1-click patenting as well and they won't let anyone use it.

that's okay - I've got the ultimate, canonical prior art - one-click trolling, dating back to USENET and FIDONET :-)

Re:Simple solution ... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31219278)

...actor Peter Calveley...

I was in a "short film" once, too. Does that make me an "actor"?

Good grief.

Actually, since I own a telescope, I'm an astrophysicist.

Amazone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213354)

The topic here has brought up the significance of Amazon and the one click. However, the one click is for other things than just purchasing from a site.

Try dinking with the USPS with one click for wicked power.

None of this would be an issue ... (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213368)

... if the USPTO had a '1-click' accept/reject option for their patent/trademark approval systems. Unfortunately either Jeff Bezos or Peter Calveley beat them to it.

Bureaucracies... (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213386)

The safest thing for any bureaucracy to do is nothing at all. You can't get blamed for making a bad decision, and you get to claim that you don't have enough resources to do the job, thus vying for an increased budget next year.

Re:Bureaucracies... (2, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213446)

Wow, that's insightful and explains 90% of our entire government in two sentence... You just need to add one more line to explain why they pass absurd laws and your training will be complete...

and thus you will be promptly shot...

Re:Bureaucracies... (2, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213518)

Oh, that's easy. You pass laws so that decisions don't ever have to be made. The "perfect" law is one which exactly embodies the intent and leaves no room for interpretation. In doing so, you relieve the bureaucracy of any responsibility or culpability. Mission accomplished.

(the fact that one cannot successfully legislate without unintentional - or intentional - loopholes provides the ongoing necessity of further legislation)

Re:Bureaucracies... (3, Interesting)

lessthanjakejohn (766177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213794)

I would say this is in direct disagreement with your previous statement.

Congress typically passes vague laws so that the responsibility of the effect of the law is lessened or more easily deflected.

It is up to the courts to reject laws as too vague and require them to have more specificity.

Laws would be much less absurd if they left no room for interpretation. #1 this would lead to a fear in passing laws and #2 this would reduce their breadth

Re:Bureaucracies... (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214010)

I think I read a book about this...

The other thing you can do is make living normal life immoral and illegal. The culture will keep people from complaining, and the laws will keep power distributed properly.

Re:Bureaucracies... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214788)

I think I read a book about this...

evil grin, which book would that be my lord...

Re:Bureaucracies... (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31216294)

Yea, command and control and unthinking drones.

Waiting on Bilksi (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213528)

USPTO is waiting on Bilski. It will come soon and state whether a business method (and not software as is commonly said) is valid. USPTO doesn't want to have to re-decide this afterward, and only if business method patents are approved of will it get approved.

Re:Waiting on Bilksi (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214212)

It's not really clear to me from looking at the file wrapper exactly why the USPTO hasn't sent out another office action yet. Maybe, as you say, they are waiting on Bilski (a decision will probably be out around April or May of this year). In the meantime, Amazon keeps filing more references for the examiners to consider, including as recently as 20 January 2010. The re-exam folks get to spend a lot more time with their applications than regular examiners do, so they may just be going over these references very carefully.

From what I can tell, though, the examiners had last indicated to Amazon's lawyers that a relatively minor amendment (which Amazon later filed) would make the rejected claims allowable (some of the claims were already indicated as being allowable, or "confirmed", since it's a re-exam, without amendment). That may have changed since this indication was made (as part of an interview). As they say, it ain't over until the fat examiner sings.

Yuo Fail It.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213584)

claim*S that BSD is a

fr0st pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213636)

want them there. for the reCord, I 0s the courtesy Accounts for less 80s, DARPA saw BSD

Re:fr0st pist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214066)

tucker max fail.

applicants should pay the USPTO for expenses (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213706)

Congress should pass a law requiring patent submitters to pay the USPTO to review their applications, billable by the hour, for however long that takes.

This arrangement would scale to cover companies that submit patents by the truckloads (IBM, Microsoft, Google) as well as start-ups that have a small number of key patents protecting their core IP. It would allow the government to hire more patent examiners, while protecting the taxpayers (though not necessarily industries) against abuse from troll outfits.

Re:applicants should pay the USPTO for expenses (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214586)

That's only an incentive for examiners to drag their heels to rake in more in fees.

It would also ensure yet another gateway open only to the rich.

I'd prefer a merit system, where both companies and examiners who are involved in either requesting or granting a patent that is later invalidated lose brownie points.

And I think that companies submitting frivolous patent applications should get spanked.

Re:applicants should pay the USPTO for expenses (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215718)

I remember reading that if a person who is filing a United States tax return incorrectly claims Earned Income Credit, that person may not be allowed to get the credit in the future. Maybe that thinking should be applied to the filing of patents, and maybe even lawsuits.

7 more years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213840)

The sucker will expire on Sept 12, 2017.

The funny thing is... (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213850)

That as I remember, the original proposal by Amazon from 2000 included limiting software patent duration to something like five years. Had that been done, this wouldn't be an issue in the first place since the patent would have been expired by then.

The USPTO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213908)

will patent anything as long as the paperwork is in order. They don't want to be in the business of deciding patentability--that is too much work. Their view is that once they grant the patent it is the job of opposing parties to fight the patent in court (read, lawyers doing all the work on behalf of clients) and having a judge decide. In theory, if the office did decide on patentability then you could sue them and drag them to court--and they don't want that. They probably have legal immunity though.

Re:The USPTO... (2, Informative)

nns6561 (559085) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215032)

That's not what the patent attorneys say. Most patent attorneys complain that the USPTO won't issue even completely new inventions. The statistics confirm that the USPTO is far from just a rubber stamp. >90% of all patent applications get rejected after their initial submission. It's typical that a patent only gets issued after a few rounds of prosecution.

Don't pay royalties to Amazon: Force them to sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213974)

Perhaps a company can force the USPTO to make a decision (to revoke 1-click or not) by challenging Amazon in court. Basically, a company could implement 1-click then force Amazon to sue (for patent infringement). Once in court, it could be noted that the current patent has been challenged with prior art and has been under review by USPTO for years.

Re:Don't pay royalties to Amazon: Force them to su (3, Informative)

nns6561 (559085) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215006)

It probably wouldn't speed up the process. First, just because some company implemented 1-click, does not force Amazon to sue. Unlike trademarks, where the mark has to be enforced to prevent delusion, patent infringement can be ignored. RedHat has even gone so far as to publicly state they won't enforce their patents in certain situations. Second, even if it was brought to court, the judge could decide to stay the case pending the decision from the USPTO. This sometimes happens because the judge doesn't want to waste their time or effort when the USPTO is already looking at the case.

Don't pay royalties to Amazon: Force them to sue (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214140)

Perhaps a company could force the USPTO to make a decision (to revoke 1-click or not) by challenging Amazon in court. Basically, a company could implement 1-click then force Amazon to sue (for patent infringement). Once in court, it could be noted that the current patent has been challenged with prior art and has been under review by USPTO for years.

Candy machines are prior art (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215086)

1. Register your source of funds with the candy machine. The candy machine becomes aware that there is an account that purchases can be charged to.
2. Press a single button to make a purchase.
3. The candy machine accesses the registered source of funds and attempts to deduct the purchase price.
4. This can be repeated for a number of transactions, and each time the candy machine will access the source of funds to attempt to deduct the purchase price.

For a closer approximation, see: parking ticket machines where you insert a credit card and buy at the push of a button.

Seriously, this is obvious in every way and Amazon is retarded for acting that way. When it comes to validating business methods patent, a _minimum_ should be that offline methods are always prior arts for any obvious internet implementation. And hopefully it is, given Amazon's repeated failures.

Re:Candy machines are prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31217148)

...and before that, candy merchants worked the same way. In this system you end up with no patents at all, which is perhaps your intent. I think it's obvious that the candy machine solves problems not faced by the candy merchant (since it isn't sentient) and the online implementation solves problems not faced by the candy machine (since it isn't a physical object.)

Re:Candy machines are prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31230312)

No, I support patents. I don't support however business methods patents for which there are close approximations already.

For example, nobody may have tried to sell soft drinks bundled with tokens that, when a number is collected, give you a free dental inspection (even if it might be a great idea - hold on while I run to the patent office... ). However, people have sold soft drinks bundled with tokens for lots of other things, and people have sold things in general bundled with tokens for just about everything. Although the specific combination of soft drinks and bonus dental inspections "solves problems" for drinkers "not solved" through traditional means, it should not be considered a patentable business method.

This follows from my general view, hopefully shared by the patent examiners, that a simple transformation of geography, or target customers, or product sold, or form of delivery, or medium (shop counter; vending machine; phone; fax; internet) should not make a business methods patent valid in itself. And if the process changes needed to implement that transformation would be obvious to someone versed in the arts, then they shouldn't be sufficiently expanding the business method to grant a patent either.

It's obvious that 'one-click purchases' has been done physically - maybe an even better example is leaving your card at the bar, but there's thousands. If you then tell a practitioner that "I want to take this way of purchasing, you know, registering your details, and purchasing with a single act, and make it so that it's done online", he would be able to outline everything in Amazon's patent immediately. You need a login system, a secure database of payment details, a system to report if the order has been successful or not, to transfer the order to a picking and delivery system, etc.

Maybe there wouldn't be much room for business methods patents at all under this system. But in a field of grey where a line has to be drawn somewhere, Amazon's method is clearly the one single obvious way to implement online what has always been implemented offline. I am not a patent lawyer, but I am happy that they have lost, for whatever reason.

\E4... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215324)

documenting it on http://en.swpat.org (0, Troll)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215464)

As one of the classic cases, I've been gathering some info already about this:

...but I still maintain that the real harm of software patents is that they block access to standards [swpat.org] . Compatibility is essential for writing functional software, so some people having a legal veto on others being compatible is a big social problem.

swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

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