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Amazon Patents Bad Gift Protection

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-more-fruitcake dept.

Patents 210

theodp writes "Thanks to the inventors at Amazon.com, you needn't fear Aunt Martha any longer. On Tuesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos received a patent for a bad gift defense system that intercepts gifts you don't want and instead sends you something that you actually do want. For example, Amazon explains that its 'System and Method for Converting Gifts' would allow you to set up a rule like 'Convert all gifts from Aunt Mildred,' which would automatically convert any online gift orders from your well-meaning-but-tasteless Auntie into a gift certificate. Other examples of how the system might be used: You could convert bad gifts to something off your wish list; block specific products ('Not another XYZ comic strip calendar'); or ensure that any clothing gifts match your exact size ('Check clothes sizes first')."

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Automatic? Just let me know. (5, Insightful)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189290)

Instead of trying to make an educated guess about what I would or would not want, just let me know beforehand that you might have an order coming to me that I don't want. Then let me decide if I want it in gift certificate form.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (2, Interesting)

ddxexex (1664191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189412)

The big problem with that is that you'd have to respond very quickly to the order before Amazon ships it out. The instantaneous approach has the advantage that if your Aunt does actually try to send something good, well you have a gift certificate for exactly enough to get it and it'll only be a bit late. Also I doubt you want to confirm the correct size for a gifted shirt and miss the deadline to change it and get an XXL instead of and XXS. And this isn't for all presents anyways - its just for the probably bad ones... I know I wouldn't want Amazon to spoil my X-mas morning by telling me what I got beforehand.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (4, Insightful)

hodet (620484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189490)

....or how about not being a spoiled brat and accepting Aunt Mildreds gift with a little gratitude and respect. There is a saying, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth".

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189556)

Or how about not giving gifts to people in the first place simply because the calendar said to?

I only give gifts to small children on birthdays and Christmas. Everybody else gets them when I find something they might like - regardless of what day it is.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189634)

... but... I didn't want a horse.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189890)

Uh dude, if Aunt Mildred is just ordering me some shit off of Amazon and not picking it out in a physical store and shipping it (or, *gasp*, bringing it over herself), she doesn't expect gratitude and respect for her gift. If it's going to be such a hands-off and clinical transaction as "I ordered this pair of socks for you from Amazon", then hell yeah I want to be able to convert that to cash instead - it's what I would have wanted to do anyway.

And by the way, looking a gift horse in the mouth would have really, really helped the people of Troy.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189902)

....or how about not being a spoiled brat and accepting Aunt Mildreds gift with a little gratitude and respect. There is a saying, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth".

...or how about saving me time and Amazon money by bypassing the time lost and money spent on delivery and subsequent return by letting me accept a gift certificate.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189916)

...or how about not being a spoiled brat and accepting Aunt Mildreds gift with a little gratitude and respect.

I totally agree. If you just give people gifts that you know they want you might as well just give them cash.

I only give gifts that I think are cool and I am totally fine if the recipient thinks it's junk because even if they didn't take it, at least I gave them a chance to expand their horizons a little bit.

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190054)

I've got a better idea. Every year, let's mutually agree on an amount, say $20. I'll mail you a check for $20, and you mail me a check for $20, then we can both go out and buy exactly what we want!

Re:Automatic? Just let me know. (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190168)

In TFA, the sample rules wizard shows that you only want Amazon to convert Aunt Mildred's gifts to certificates "after checking with me". So that'd do exactly what you want.

Much as I hate Amazon's one-click patent, *this* is actually a novel, clever innovation.

Missing Skill (1)

andellmoon (868381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189292)

That would require Aunt Mildred to order your gifts online and not knit you a tacky sweater by hand.

Re:Missing Skill (4, Funny)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189322)

Oh really? [amazon.com]

Re:Missing Skill (1)

andellmoon (868381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189338)

Lol! Nice :-D

Re:Missing Skill (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189486)

and now, Aunt Mildred won't be crippled with arthritis from knitting your that tacky pile. Thank you Amazon!

Re:Missing Skill (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189710)

That's a lot of sweater for $3.99.

Re:Missing Skill (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189888)

The $3.99 is not for the actual sweater, it's for the pattern to follow to make the sweater by hand with your own yarn.

Re:Missing Skill (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189914)

It is a pattern.

I see FOUR lights! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190272)

funny, I only see one wolf there.


Can't we just shunt aunt Mildred's misguide gifts shunt directly to replenish the account of the ebay bot [njuice.com] that sends me my weekly package4u ?

omygawd! [redriderleglamps.com] /valley

Re:Missing Skill (2, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189948)

Right, so she can order you the pattern from Amazon, and you can knit it yourself!

How about... (2, Insightful)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189302)

How about a bad patent protection instead?

Re:How about... (4, Interesting)

falsified (638041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189394)

Not (really) obvious, no prior art, kind of a cool idea. I kind of think patents for things that aren't physical objects are BS, but if we're going to allow them at all, then this seems like one we should allow.

Re:How about... (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189426)

No prior art? What about gift returns at a store.

Its just gift return, receive credit, buy something new..... just without the initial delivery.

Re:How about... (3, Funny)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189520)

Ahh! But this is done by a computer. That changes everything!

Re:How about... (4, Informative)

The Dancing Panda (1321121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189542)

Yes, that "without the initial delivery" is what makes there no prior art, and a very cool idea.

Re:How about... (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190166)

"Not (really) obvious, no prior art, kind of a cool idea."

Yep. Auntie pays a company to send something with bad taste and they substitute something else.
It might sound like a good, patentable idea, but most countries just call it 'fraud'.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189688)

No shit, I'm so fucking sick and tired of workflows being patentable. A product should be patentable, a process should not.

If only... (1)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189306)

..my Mom knew how to use the internet!

Bait and switch (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189312)

So in other words, Bozo^H^H^Hezos patented the ancient practice of bait and switch. His mother would be so proud...

Re:Bait and switch (2, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189610)

So in other words, Bozo^H^H^Hezos patented the ancient practice of bait and switch. His mother would be so proud...

No, just the practice of saving people the effort of returning products for store credit.

Insights into the obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189330)

Can someone patent that?

my poor aunt mildred (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189350)

If only she knew how to use Amazon, she wouldn't have to drive to the mall 20mph slower than the speed limit and back up into a few pedestrians on her way just to get me a pair of black socks with brown and purple diamond shapes on them.

Isn't this illegal under consumer protection laws? (5, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189390)

Under commerce laws, a contract is signed between a consumer and a company to perform a service.

The NON-action of that service - the unwanted gift ORDERED and PAID FOR by the consumer Aunt Milly - is a direct and actionable defrauding of service and a contractual BREACH by Amazon.

I smell a massive consumer lawsuit that Amazon will lose.

Amazon enters into the contract to deliver the goods and services specified. They are the AGENT of Aunt Milly.

Anything other than a good-faith effort to fulfill that contract is an act of FRAUD.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189448)

They patented it, doesn't mean they plan on implementing it.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (5, Insightful)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189458)

Not if you opt into it via Amazon's terms of service.

You just will no longer be creating the same contract. The contract will now read this item will be offered to the recipient, which he/she can accept or exchange for credit towards another purchase.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189614)

No, Aunt Milly would have to opt in to it.

The defrauding is in the contract between Aunt Milly and Amazon, not the contract between the intended recipient and Amazon.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189998)

Yes, the contract AUNT MILLEY will opt into will say

item will be offered to the recipient, which he/she can accept or exchange for credit towards another purchase.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190040)

That's the the GP to my post was saying.

When you order the item to be shipped to the intended recipient, you will acknowledge via the ToS that you allow Amazon to

...
's/$foo/$better_foo/g\nw' | ed -s your_order


when you confirm the transaction.

Since when are big corps beholden to fraud laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189510)

I've had several of them openly commit fraud against me. As long as they put "its okay for us to commit fraud" into their policy/EULA/whatever.... theyre covered..

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

Xarin (320264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189526)

Under commerce laws, a contract is signed between a consumer and a company to perform a service.

The NON-action of that service - the unwanted gift ORDERED and PAID FOR by the consumer Aunt Milly - is a direct and actionable defrauding of service and a contractual BREACH by Amazon.

I smell a massive consumer lawsuit that Amazon will lose.

Amazon enters into the contract to deliver the goods and services specified. They are the AGENT of Aunt Milly.

Anything other than a good-faith effort to fulfill that contract is an act of FRAUD.

Didn't Aunt Milly agree to this, though, when she clicked "I Agree" to the TOS?

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (2, Insightful)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189536)

I see the defense for this being that Amazon is simply speeding up the return process.

Remember that gifts are sent via Amazon with a return policy for store credit, and shipping is free.

So if Aunt Mildred sent Johnny a book, Johnny can return it for a $15 credit to Grand Theft Auto: Fargo.

Amazon is just making that process faster, knowing in advance that Johnny doesn't want the book, and giving him the credit before even shipping.

It's a win for everyone except UPS.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (2, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189620)

I see the defense for this being that Amazon is simply speeding up the return process.

Remember that gifts are sent via Amazon with a return policy for store credit, and shipping is free.

So if Aunt Mildred sent Johnny a book, Johnny can return it for a $15 credit to Grand Theft Auto: Fargo.

Amazon is just making that process faster, knowing in advance that Johnny doesn't want the book, and giving him the credit before even shipping.

It's a win for everyone except UPS.

Even UPS will win when Johnny uses that credit to get something he actually wants.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189632)

If I were UPS (also a Seattle company like Amazon), I'd be firing up the batteries of lawyers for the class-action lawsuits as we speak.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189728)

the batteries of lawyers

By any chance, do those batteries explode like the ones in laptops?

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189782)

the batteries of lawyers

By any chance, do those batteries explode like the ones in laptops?

No, those are the ones sent via FedEx.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

djrosen (265939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190124)

For what?!
Finding a way around giving them more money?

I guess GM better fire up the class action lawsuit against all the pedestrians in NY that figured out they could walk instead of buying a car.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189624)

It's going to have to ask you if your purchase is a gift and would presumably have you opt in at that point.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (0, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189770)

"presumably have you opt in"?

Defaulting the TOS to presuming this is not the same as Actively Requiring you to check if this is ok.

Hiding things in contract text is an act of defrauding - we're talking Aunt Milly here, she expects you to do what she told you, she's not a lawyer and she doesn't really get these computer thingies.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189794)

No, seriously, this is key. What's to stop someone from making a rule saying "change all books into adult fiction" or "change all video games into GTA?" I'm not really one to say we should be keeping that content away from people, but seriously, let the parents decide. This kind of things makes ESRB and movie ratings pointless, which is a Bad Idea.

Why lawsuits r good and Jeff B is EviL (0, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189850)

If I buy my son a Smurfs video game from Amazon and he has them deliver a GTA:Emerald City game they are going to be sued six ways to Sunday

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190068)

Require a credit card on the account. Problem solved. Credit cards are only issued to those who are 18 or older, so some adult is approving it.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

RJBeery (956252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189842)

It seems there is no fraud if the gift's intended recipient acknowledges "receipt", ownership and transfer of the bad gift back to Amazon in exchange for a gift certificate, right? Except in this case the "receipt" part is just kind of skipped over...

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

dsouza42 (1151071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189866)

Not necessarily... Many stores today allow you to exchange a gift you received (bought on their store, of course) for something else. Amazon is just removing the unnecessary steps of sending it to you and having you sending it back. As a consumer I think it's a great idea and since it's my decision to do this let Aunt Milly come ask me why I exchanged her gift.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190322)

There's one major difference: The delivery of the goods is the consummation of a transaction between the purchaser and the vendor; the return and exchange is legally a separate transaction between the vendor and the recipient.

It may appear to you as a single, redundant transaction, but it is not. Your Aunt engaged in a commercial transaction with Amazon, not you; and Amazon is legally bound to fulfill this transaction.

You cannot just "remove the unnecessary steps of sending it to you," because that is a completely separate transaction, which is a prerequisite for the second.

            -dZ.

Re:Isn't this illegal under consumer protection la (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190266)

Capital letters don't make you smarter.

Or authoritative.

"With a Computer" (4, Funny)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189410)

It's just like fortune cookies.

Append "in bed" and you get a laugh.

Append "with a computer" and you get a software patent.

Re:"With a Computer" (1)

DIplomatic (1759914) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189514)

It's just like fortune cookies.

Append "in bed" and you get a laugh.

Append "with a computer" and you get a software patent.

Oh good call! **adds the word 'quantum' in between "with a" and "computer"**
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got about 10 million software patents to file.

Re:"With a Computer" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189658)

Append "with a computer" and you get a software patent.

Append "with a computer" to what? How many brick and mortar stores offer bad gift automatic exchange as a service? Where is the printed publication that describes this, but without a computer? Did you read the claims, or review the prosecution history through public PAIR [uspto.gov] ? Or does it even matter to you what the facts are in this situation?

I understand the concept (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189436)

However I believe (IMHO) it is not solving the fundamental problem.

A gift from person A to person B should be a symbol saying "I know you, and I believe that you should have this gift I am giving you". If person B is not receiving a desired gift from person A then there are at least 2 issues at stake:

  1. Person A doesn't really know Person B - in which case why are they obligated to send a gift, and whose fault is it for the lack of knowledge?
  2. Person B does not care about Person A, and instead selfishly only wants the gifts that they want and as such ignores the feelings/beliefs of person A - in which case again, why are gifts being sent?

So the fundamental problem is the lack of a proper relationship between Person A and Person B, and that this patent application goes to weaken all such relationships by automatically sweeping the real issues under the electronic carpet.

Re:I understand the concept (2, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189602)

I wonder if gifts are becoming fungible. You can buy gift certificates to store X at Wal-mart. Those Coinstar machines that convert coins to cash actually give you a discount if you convert the coins to gift certificates. Now, Amazon has made the ability to effectively convert any product into any other product, prior to even receiving it. Today, it is popular to buy gifts from someone's online wishlist rather than shopping. For my wedding, my wife and I wanted some furniture that no one could buy individually, so we asked for gift certificates to a certain store. All of this stuff is combining together to form a totally new image of commerce where people only buy gifts via proxy - basically, giving money.

Re:I understand the concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189800)

Seems reasonable. That's the way they do it in Asia, IIRC.

Re:I understand the concept (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189992)

Yeah, I just don't understand why it's not socially acceptable to just send people cash.

In fact, I'd imagine that starting from first principles (i.e, without all the millions of dollars companies have put into marketing them) it would be far less acceptable to give gift cards than to give cash - because when you give someone a gift card, you're essentially saying "I don't trust you to not go out and buy drugs or get a tattoo or do something else I don't approve of with this cash, so I will instead force you to spend the money at a store that I know does not sell anything I disapprove of".

I mean, really. Gift cards are like cash, except stupider unless you're the company that's issuing them (you give me money now and then spend that credit later? I'd take that offer any day of the week and twice on Sundays; this is, in fact, why Costco sells packs like $100 worth of Starbucks gift cards for $80).

Re:I understand the concept (3, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190212)

Yeah, I just don't understand why it's not socially acceptable to just send people cash.

To me, the sending of cash is probably the rudest gift giving of all. It amounts to I am compelled to give you a gift but I don't know anything about you at all, so rather than be involved in your life and learning about your experiences I'll send this cash in the off chance that you will buy something for yourself and somehow link the emotion of that buying to me.

Re:I understand the concept (1)

Likes Microsoft (662147) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189726)

I think another issue here that I haven't seen anyone mention at my level of filtering is this: How rude! Are we really becoming so ungracious that we can't appreciate someone's effort to give us something. If we really don't like it, still thank them, hold onto it for an appropriate amount of time, then re-gift, sell or give to charity.

Re:I understand the concept (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190350)

Admittedly though, automatically exchanging clothes for something of the correct size is pretty cool. It avoids the bummer of getting something you like but cant wear right away and if you could tell that the recipient had this option enabled you wouldn't have to go through the step of either guessing their size (incorrectly) or having to ask them.

If nothing else, that is a quality idea and I think just about anyone could get behind the implementation. If only they could find a way to standardize the sizes enough that they were meaningful from designer to designer (or measured everything like mens formal wear).

Re:I understand the concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189858)

But every time Aunt Martha sends you a sweater you phone and tell her how much you like it, and drive over during the holiday period wearing it. All because you don't want to hurt her feelings. So she keeps sending them to you.

Re:I understand the concept (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190154)

But every time Aunt Martha sends you a sweater you phone and tell her how much you like it, and drive over during the holiday period wearing it. All because you don't want to hurt her feelings. So she keeps sending them to you.

So you are happy being the architect of your own misery?

Re:I understand the concept (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189918)

A gift from person A to person B should be a symbol saying "I know you, and I believe that you should have this gift I am giving you".

Only that in reality, most (or at least many) gifts are a symbol given to satisfy certain social norms or expectations. While it certainly would be nice if every gift would be the heartfelt symbol you'd like it to be, that's not the world we all live in.

Re:I understand the concept (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190160)

A gift from person A to person B should be a symbol saying "I know you, and I believe that you should have this gift I am giving you".

Only that in reality, most (or at least many) gifts are a symbol given to satisfy certain social norms or expectations. While it certainly would be nice if every gift would be the heartfelt symbol you'd like it to be, that's not the world we all live in.

Then those social norms that compel gift giving of shit presents are fucked up and no patent is going to solve that issue.

Re:I understand the concept (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190026)

I see it in a third way, as stated in the summery, with the "I already have X, I don't want another one" option. I've had this problem a number of times, where a new book in a series I like comes out near Christmas/my birthday/etc. and I get three people buying me the book, which I already bought myself.

Re:I understand the concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34190162)

I see it differently. After age 12, we generally know what we want, and after about 20, we have the means to get it for ourselves. But because of silly customs, we have to give gifts to other people, because we think it is the right thing to do, even if it is the wrong gift. So the fundamental problem is that we don't really need to give each other gifts after age 20, but continue to do so because tradition tells us we have to.

Now ain't that nice... (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189440)

So basically it's a system that allows you to be a jerk? You're automatically turning every gift into cash!

Re:Now ain't that nice... (2, Informative)

Danse (1026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189640)

So basically it's a system that allows you to be a jerk? You're automatically turning every gift into cash!

Presumably if you're such a jerk, you won't be getting many gifts anyway...

Re:Now ain't that nice... (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190188)

Lightbulb!

*Runs to sign up*

Dear Sir/Madam,

I represent Diapers for America, a program designed to get expensive disposable diapers into the hands of needy parents affected by the recent economic downturn. Please purchase any brand of disposable diapers as a gift on Amazon.com and send them to:

H. A. Hasucker
12 S Camyoo Way
Irool, UT 12345

Re:Now ain't that nice... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189976)

A bigger mystery item is converting gifts into ... other gifts.

Say I'm 17, in the US, and I ask Amazon to convert my incoming gifts into Everclear. Who is to blame?

1) Being a minor I can't enter into contracts and there's no proof (he he) that I was the person whom logged in and selected "convert to Everclear"

2) Regardless of the drinking age where Auntie Mildred lives, she has no way of knowing what I've done.

3) Amazon has no idea whats legal and not where I live, for me ... or do they?

Booze is pretty well known, but there are other curious things you could theoretically purchase that might have legal issues for kids depending on the local nanny state, pr0n, R rated movies, violent games, rolling papers, etc.

Re:Now ain't that nice... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190098)

Require a credit card on the recipient account. That guarantees at least one 18-year-old is making the choice, and therefore the contract is valid (and everything except alcohol is an acceptable gift). Furthermore, checking IDs is a solved problem - UPS and FedEx do it all the time.

Re:Now ain't that nice... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190120)

There's also social problems. Mormon Auntie might not like it if you turn her pack of socks into whiskey...

So in addition to the kids "DO NOT WANT" list, and the US Govt "DO NOT WANT" list, Auntie also needs a "DO NOT WANT" list.

This is getting complicated.

not bad but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189442)

Unfortunately this won't be anywhere near as intelligent as I'll want it to be.

As a happy medium, if it emailed me stating, "Your aunt has bought you a gift, would you like to know what it is?" and upon saying Yes I had the option to change the gift, that would be great - providing my aunt never knew the truth.

It would be really good if it would know that I'd like another wii controller instead of more socks, but it won't.

Re:not bad but (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189672)

Unfortunately this won't be anywhere near as intelligent as I'll want it to be.

As a happy medium, if it emailed me stating, "Your aunt has bought you a gift, would you like to know what it is?" and upon saying Yes I had the option to change the gift, that would be great - providing my aunt never knew the truth.

It would be really good if it would know that I'd like another wii controller instead of more socks, but it won't.

It could allow you to set up a gift queue a-la Netflix, and it could maintain a credit reserve for you until you accumulate enough to get the next gift on your list, at which point it will be shipped to you. That would be pretty sweet. Now if only I actually knew anyone that used Amazon to send gifts like this...

Does Bezos shop at Amazon? (1)

titanium93 (839011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189450)

If so,

then if gift from: Bezos

To: *

Forward to: titanium93

Convert to: Cash in small bills

Profit!

More lameass Amazon patents (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189476)

DO NOT WANT!

That would be nice but... (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189492)

All of the bad gift givers for me rarely shop on Amazon or on the internet at all. This might work if every single person who bought me stuff did it through Amazon. If they did not, it would be an odd thing to ask people to do, "Uh, yeah, your presents suck. Can you order it through Amazon so that I can auto-return it before I even get it?"

pre-made rules? (1)

llung (1841162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189558)

Not a bad idea. Some simple pre-made rules would be nice. For instance, a useful one might be: All fruitcakes --> gift certificate

i wish i had something like this at my wedding (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189570)

like a bad gift to cash in an envelope conversion

but bad gifts do serve a purpose, it's a free supply of crap you give to people where you have to give a gift but don't want to buy one

Moot Point (1)

wzinc (612701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189582)

Does Aunt Martha have the ability to order online to begin with? Does she even own a computer?

Gift Registry (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189586)

Bad gift protection? Oh you mean they patented the gift registry. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gift Registry (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189732)

"A gift registry is a particular type of wish list." from Wikipedia. This is a "DO NOT WANT" list.

Re:Gift Registry (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189932)

It's a "replace with something I want" list. Which is a fancy gift registry.

How much dumberer do we have to get about gifts? (3, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189650)

I've always prided myself on meaningful and thoughtful gift giving. I was never perfect, but I tried very hard to think about every gift and how it matched that person. At the same time, I've always been someone who's been hard to shop for, because of my particular tastes, and because I disdain gift cards. I can understand people's desires to make gift giving easier, but let's get serious. A gift should be a well thought out and researched thing. Have we created such an incredibly greedy consumer society that a company like Amazon has to create services like "gift interception" to make up for the fact that we buy too much shit?

I mean c'mon. Consumers have this false guilt about giving money because "it's impersonal" so they feel it necessary to give a gift, or give a gift card. Forcing me to deal with your crappy gift, or forcing me to buy something from a store I don't want, is just annoying. So now, in order to deal with the fact that we have this incorrect sense that we must buy shit for each other or force each other to buy shit from a specific store, that we have to create brand spanking new processes just to deal with the fact that we as a people suck at something we shouldn't even be doing in the first place? This is why happy go lucky cheery people who think gifts are doubleplusgood and there couldn't possibly be a downside get pissed off when I point out the very real reasons why sometimes giving a gift is not as nice as you think.

It's a recession, and people are hurting for money. Instead of buying little timmy the latest power ranger or little sally the latest pillow pet, give them each $20 and open a saving account and teach them how to save. Or knit them a sweater. Or something equally unique or helpful. Last year for Christmas, my mother promised to make me about a dozen home cooked meals over the next year that I could take home with me. Best gift EVAR. Let's stop giving Amazon reasons to come up with ways to buy more shit.

Re:How much dumberer do we have to get about gifts (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190060)

but I tried very hard to think about every gift and how it matched that person

I see this more as a solution to "2 other people did the same thinking and came up with the same gift" issue, which seems to plague me at least every other birthday/Christmas.

Re:How much dumberer do we have to get about gifts (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190096)

At the same time, I've always been someone who's been hard to shop for, because of my particular tastes, and because I disdain gift cards. I can understand people's desires to make gift giving easier, but let's get serious. A gift should be a well thought out and researched thing.

I've solved this, and my advice is you need to pick up a vice. Maybe pr0n, fine booze, sex (er, gift certificates for it from your S.O.), exotic chocolates, etc.

In my case it's tea. The rotgut crud in the teabags at the grocery store is too icky to drink, but there is good stuff out there. Tell them to buy you about two ounces of good stuff. Two ounces of good stuff, at least for tea, will last at most a couple weeks (depending on how much you drink and how many people you share with), and set them back the cost of a typical gift. My kids get me stuff scarcely better than the grocery store rotgut because thats all the money they have, and thats OK, yet my richer relations get me the exotic stuff that costs about as much as silver by weight (or much more). It works out pretty well, between the pagan capitalist xmas holiday, my birthday, some other seasonal holidays, and a couple "just because" to tide me over, I always have tea to drink. Make sure to tell you friends and family that for gods sake buy a little of the good stuff not a lot of the rotgut and no "related" capital goods like mugs or whatever, or else I'd have about fifty tea/coffee mugs by now.

Re:How much dumberer do we have to get about gifts (2, Interesting)

Jay L (74152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190192)

Couldn't this also have the opposite effect? It allows me to take a risk and give you a personalized, non-bland gift, secure in the knowledge that if I guess wrong you'll be able to convert it without any inconvenience, and you'll *still* get "the thought that counts".

Benefit of the doubt (1)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189656)

I'm going to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt here and say they only patented this to prevent any company from ever implementing such a terrible idea.

Won't work anyways (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189676)

As aunt Mildred will of course want pictures of you with your new gift...

Re:Won't work anyways (1)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190058)

As aunt Mildred will of course want pictures of you with your new gift...

It's cool, odds are she has never heard of Photoshop!

Amazon's other patents (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189752)

Meanwhile, after a twelve year fight in the courts, Amazon is about to get its 1-click shopping patent granted in Canada:

http://news.swpat.org/2010/11/canada-1-click-patentable/ [swpat.org]

Background:
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Amazon_v._Commissioner_for_Patents_(2010,_Canada) [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Amazon's_one-click_shopping_patent [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Amazon [swpat.org]

Sounds like a prank... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34189956)

It's not even april 1st?

Just give money (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34189984)

I know money isn't very imaginative but you're not in touch with what the other person likes then let them decide. They'll get something they want and your money isn't wasted. The idea of this patent is basically like giving someone money without actually giving them money from what I understand. Just cut out the middle man and give money.

Yeah... (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190302)

Now if they can patent some defense against Aunt Milly visiting in the spring and being hurt that her crappy-ass gift isn't on prominent display in the middle of the living room. Perhaps they could intercept her airline ticket and send her to El Salvidor, instead...

Gifts for the Facebook Age (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190338)

Now we have the perfect gift giving services for Facebook "friends" to give "gifts" to each other. After all, you cannot chose the perfect gift for a "friend" that you have never met, and your attention span doesn't stretch to reading the recipient's wish list (or you don't actually have their email address to look it up) or buying a gift voucher. Now you can just pick an item at random and let Amazon "personalise" the item for you. End result? Unchanged, except that Amazon can screw their "friends" for royalties.

When did it become legal to patent ideas? (1)

GrantRobertson (973370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34190356)

Can someone please explain to me when, exactly, it became legal to patent a general idea rather than a specific implementation of an idea?
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