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Amazon Patents Electronic Gifting

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the all-your-gifts-are-belong-to-us dept.

Patents 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 Amazon.com 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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164 comments

Prior Art (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#40165155)

*yawn* if this gets awarded, it will fall in court the first time its used against someone.

Re:Prior Art (3)

indre1 (1422435) | about 2 years ago | (#40165175)

I don't get it - how can they get highly educated people to even consider working on a patent like this? My motivation would be -100 on a scale of 10.

Re:Prior Art (3, Insightful)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 2 years ago | (#40165321)

It is not the educated engineers and programmers that patent this crap, they just implement it and the sleaze bag managers and lawyers do the rest.

Re:Prior Art (5, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 2 years ago | (#40165177)

No: Amazon just picks the first few targets carefully ... targets that cannot afford the $5,000,000 lawyers fees to defend against the bloody obvious, so they give in. Then with a few precedents under their belt they are better armed to go against bigger fish. Even if they loose they can cause mayhem at a competitor in the 2 years that it takes to litigate.

Re:Prior Art (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#40165223)

And that is exactly the problem with any legal system based on case law. I'm not sure how to fix it though.

Re:Prior Art (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#40165419)

Most legal systems take precedent very seriously, and rightly so. This needs to be fixed on the legislative side; if a law is overly ambiguous or if case law shows that it is interpreted counter to its original intent, then it falls to the lawmakers to come up with a better law.

Of course, in a country governed by lawyers, this will never happen.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165479)

Of course, in a country governed by lawyers, this will never happen.

America, land of the free.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165827)

America, land of the fee, home of the bothered.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165973)

Yeah, but it's not as if that courts don't set bad precedents. Lawmakers fuck up and so do the courts. Bad precedents should not be respected just because they're precedent.

Re:Prior Art (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165289)

That's complete nonsense, settlements are not precedent, kind of like how slashdot is not law school.

Re:Prior Art (3, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#40165631)

Seriously? Not law school? My parents are going to kick me out of the basement if they figure out I'm not down here studying.

Re:Prior Art (1)

Jamu (852752) | about 2 years ago | (#40165335)

IANAL: Why don't the big fish provide help to these little fish, to stop these precedents being set, and to, ultimately, defend their own position?

Re:Prior Art (4, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40165737)

Because the executives of any of the big fish would rather die than spend the small amount of money to help their competition, since it might reduce the short-term profits that their bonuses and options rely on. Better that the entire company go down the tubes in the long run, since they'll have moved to a different employer by then. That's the game of Executive Musical Chairs that we have today, brought to us by the MBA disease.

Re:Prior Art (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | about 2 years ago | (#40165337)

Even if they loose they can cause mayhem at a competitor in the 2 years that it takes to litigate.

I don't understand, what are they loosing?

Re:Prior Art (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 2 years ago | (#40165395)

I'm wiling to bet Apple goes after this right away. iTunes uses 'gifting' and I don't think Apple would ever settle with Amazon.

Re:Prior Art (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 2 years ago | (#40165495)

I'm wiling to bet Apple goes after this right away. iTunes uses 'gifting' and I don't think Apple would ever settle with Amazon.

Two words: One Click.

Re:Prior Art (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#40165537)

Steam uses gifting, as does gamersgate. So prior art already exists.

Re:Prior Art (5, Insightful)

ProfBooty (172603) | about 2 years ago | (#40165577)

Indeed the examiner cited a whole bunch of prior art, including:

PRwire; "Matchmaker.com Creates Business Development Unit for Gift Sales"; Jan. 20, 2000: pp. 1 and 2. cited by examiner .
"GiftCardSwapping.com"; http://web.archive.org/web/20070520051410/http://www.giftcardswapping.com- [archive.org] /; Sunday, May 20, 2007; p. 1. cited by examiner .
"Gift Card Exchange, Buy Gift Card, Discount Gift Cards, Cash Gift Card Swap"; http://web.archive.org/web/20080724163511/http:giftcardrescue.com/- [archive.org] ; Apr. 12, 2008-Jul. 11, 2011; pp. 1-3. cited by examiner .
"CBLS.www.cbls.com.(World Web Watch)."; Advanced Materials & Processes, v160, n6; Jun. 2002; p. 1. cited by examiner .
"Eugene Science"; Edgar Online; May 23, 2006; pp. 1-5. cited by examiner .
Mathieu, Elizabeth; "Opinion: Delaware: An unparalleled home for your trust"; Private Asset Management, v5, n20; Oct. 5, 1998; pp. 1 and 2. cited by examiner .
US Fed News Service, Including US State News;"Publication No. WO/2009/109949 Published on Sep. 11, Assigned to France Telecom for Electronic Gifting System (American Inventor)"; Sep. 15, 2009; p. 1. cited by examiner

There a whole load more patent documents listed in the patent as prior art.

Anyways, if sued I would probably just request a re-exam by the office, its only a couple of thousand bucks.

Re:Prior Art (5, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165731)

Steam uses gifting, as does gamersgate. So prior art already exists.

Contrary to the Slashdot assertion, this is not a patent on "gifting". This is a patent on a gifting system that doesn't bill the gift giver until the gift is accepted, and allows the giver to cancel the gift if the recipient has not accepted it in time. Steam and Gamersgate (as well as the Wii Store, iTunes, etc.) all charge the giver immediately. Not only are they not anticipatory prior art, they also don't infringe.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165767)

What about kickstarter? It's the only delayed-charge system I can think of off the top of my head, and it deals with actual money instead of real/virtual objects, and the accept/receiving is done by a third party, but there's a chance it could be prior art.

Re:Prior Art (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165877)

What about kickstarter? It's the only delayed-charge system I can think of off the top of my head, and it deals with actual money instead of real/virtual objects, and the accept/receiving is done by a third party, but there's a chance it could be prior art.

It'd be tough... They were both launched in 2008, so the exact day would matter. On top of that, Kickstarter doesn't let backers withdraw their investment.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165895)

This is a patent on a gifting system that doesn't bill the gift giver until the gift is accepted, and allows the giver to cancel the gift if the recipient has not accepted it in time.

That is so innovative! Such a colossal difference! Truly worthy of a patent! 10/10, what a great patent system we have.

Re:Prior Art (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 2 years ago | (#40165715)

Then with a few precedents under their belt they are better armed to go against bigger fish.

Settlements (I assume you meant the "small fish" would settle) aren't precedent for precisely that reason. IANAL but as I understand it, the court doesn't much concern itself with the results of prior litigation unless there's a verdict.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165781)

No I think you are wrong, that would never work. Not in the US at least.

Re:Prior Art (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165227)

"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"

RTFA

OK, its still obvious, but I haven't seen prior art for that.

Re:Prior Art (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40165263)

I've seen something similar - when I pre-ordered Diablo III from NewEgg, they didn't charge my card until it shipped. Granted, it's not a digital download and it wasn't a gift but those feel like a subset of the overall process of not charging (and allowing cancellation) until delivery.

Re:Prior Art (1)

Drafell (1263712) | about 2 years ago | (#40165437)

Actually this is supposed to cover most online purchases. When you pay for something to be shipped, you are not supposed to be charged until that item actually ships.
With regards to the patent, by clicking accept the receiver is effectively getting the gift/item shipped...

Re:Prior Art (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 2 years ago | (#40165237)

It did get awarded, and it will not go to court, unless the "infringer" is rich enough to be able to finance the court procedings against amazon...
So the "big guys" will get access to it in a cross licencing deal, and the small guys have to pray that :
- either they stay why to small to be noticed
- or they grow so fast that the lawers didn't get time to kill them before they are rich enought to play the "mutualy assured destruction game"

  this is soo sad

Re:Prior Art (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about 2 years ago | (#40165255)

What do you mean if? You don't even have to read the article - the two sentence summary states that the patent was granted.

And who cares about Facebook, who still has time to license the patent, when someone like Valve (i.e. Steam) is already infringing at the infrastructure level.

Sure, you and everyone else (including myself) may think the patent is over broad, obvious, and non-innovative - but where were we (and Valve, Facebook, Apple, GoG, Microsoft, Walmart, etc...) during the 2008 public comment period?

Re:Prior Art (1)

justin12345 (846440) | about 2 years ago | (#40165505)

Ha, I misread the titles as "Amazon Patents Electronic Grifting", and though, "Oh come on! My inbox is full of prior art, going all the way back to the 90!"

Re:Prior Art (3, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#40165687)

What about patentability within the in re Bilski decision. It fails the Bilski test.

What about steam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165161)

How does this affect me? can I still gift through these services or will they stop existing?

Re:What about steam? (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 2 years ago | (#40165243)

you will pay more for your gifts, and will have less choices

Re:What about steam? (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about 2 years ago | (#40165323)

'fewer choices' not 'less choices'. Less refers to a single item ('less choice'), fewer refers to the plural.

Other than that your point is well observed :-)

Re:What about steam? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165739)

English: The language of redundant and pointless rules that don't actually improve readability.

Re:What about steam? (3, Informative)

Talderas (1212466) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Nuts (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#40165217)

This patent abuse has gone too far. It's time to revoke all trivial patents as they are obstructing the innovation they were designed to help.

Re:Nuts (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about 2 years ago | (#40165363)

Really? Would you like to give a list of trivial patents? Please do correct for bias on determining the simplicity of the idea when observed after the fact. I mean after all, the Franklin Stove was dead obvious, and even the Spinning Jenny was merely a rearrangements of wheels, cogs, and water wheels - each of which was well understood at the time. Logic gates? Pshaw - anyone can see they're a natural extension of a transistor (which is merely a trinket to even a doped chemist or physicist).

Yes, I agree it's broken, but please don't whip out asinine suggestions unless you want your arguments forcibly dismissed by the people you may need to listen to them. Or at least try to suggest a (remotely) plausible method for doing so (e.g. It's time to establish a post-patent review board to evaluate the granted monopoly's innovation by X magnitude in a field which is Y mature to determine whether f(x,y) = trivial).

Re:Nuts (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 2 years ago | (#40165643)

Since determining whether a patent is trivial may not itself be a trivial task, the system should avoid the problem altogether. One way is not to have a patent system. Seriously. We don't get enough in exchange for all the trouble we take upon ourselves in trying to grant and uphold a monopoly. In exchange, we're supposed to receive knowledge of how some non-trivial device is constructed and works. If that is obvious, then we get nothing for committing ourselves to enforcing the ultimate in anti-competitive favoritism, a monopoly. Another way is not to grant monopoly protection. Instead, we could commit to paying out some money based upon some measure of the usefulness of the idea.

Another possible solution is not to allow certain types of controversial patents such as software and business method patents. This patent on electronic gifts sounds like a business method patent.

Re:Nuts (1)

Merk42 (1906718) | about 2 years ago | (#40165663)

We need to stop awarding patents based on the 'what' (ie electronic gifting) and go back to awarding patents based on the 'how' (where how is more specific than 'on the internet/computer'). My father is a chemist, he has some patents attributed to him. You can't patent something like a color (the what) but you can patent HOW you achieved that color.

What's Patentable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165221)

Wouldn't they have to patent a specific process? Otherwise I could just patent "an electronic device that turns on."

I know, I know. I must be new here.

how come ... (0)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 2 years ago | (#40165225)

nobody just pattented breathing while being somehow interacting with a computer, or "doing something trivial using a computer"...
there is really no excuse for pattents anymore...

Even if pattents would not be the worthless piece of skuldugery it became, I cannot understand how this did pass the "obvious to a trained practicant of the art" filter.

At this point my only hope is that in the near future the joblessness in the "first world" will hit 80% and the people finally realize that the situation is just unbearable...
and that all our creativity is stolen by:
- monetisation of education
- confiscation of real estate by the financial system
- destruction of invention by outsourcing and brain mushing marketing

Re:how come ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165471)

>pattented patented >pattents patents

This is an outrage (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about 2 years ago | (#40165231)

"Gift" is not a verb. You cannot create a gerund from a noun.

Re:This is an outrage (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40165279)

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

gift/gift/

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".

Re:This is an outrage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165659)

"the company gifted 2,999 shares to a charity".

That English is so poor even the Queen cries.

"The company gave 2,999 shares to charity as a gift."

Re:This is an outrage (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40165555)

English is meant to be an evolving language. It has no "academy" that selects right and wrong.

You lose.

Re:This is an outrage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165803)

To be accurate...

English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages into dark alleys, beats them up for their words and goes through their pockets for loose grammar. - Raina Bird

Re:This is an outrage (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#40165757)

You MIGHT want to look in the dictionary...

gift

noun
1.
something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
2.
the act of giving.
3.
something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned: Those extra points he got in the game were a total gift.
4.
a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent: the gift of saying the right thing at the right time.

verb (used with object)
5.
to present with as a gift; bestow gifts upon; endow with.
6.
to present (someone) with a gift: just the thing to gift the newlyweds.

"Gift" is possibly a verb. It is in the usage in question. So...how's that "cannot create a gerund from a noun" working out for you now?

Re:This is an outrage (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 2 years ago | (#40166173)

to present (someone) with a gift: just the thing to gift the newlyweds.

The dictionary documents usage, even incorrect usage. A dictionary is not a style guide. The correct way to say that is: "just the thing to give the newlyweds." Although I heard of a couple newlyweds being blendered, toastered, and vacuumed recently.

prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165249)

hasn't valve been doing this for about a decade?

Absurd patent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165251)

Would I be allowed to patent handing a gift to someone in person, and then take out a seperate patent on sending someone a gift through snail mail? What about e-mail? I was giving gifts electronically myself as early as 2003.

There's also a part on delaying payment until the gift is accepted - but again, is this really innovative? It's called "COD" in every other non-electronic market, and I think that Pizza Hut and all the other chains figured it out sometime in 1970s, and they weren't the ones who came up with it...I'm having trouble finding the origin of the idea easily, because it was obvious common sense in the 1950s. No, this is not new. What the hell, USPTO.

This Patent won't live long... (3, Insightful)

dryriver (1010635) | about 2 years ago | (#40165253)

Giving gifts to others is something people have done for thousands of years. Doing the same thing electronically? No different, unless there is some ingenious new mechanism being used. -------- If that isn't the case, this patent is worth nothing, and will likely be overturned at the first opportunity.

Re:This Patent won't live long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165385)

Giving gifts to others is something people have done for thousands of years. Doing the same thing electronically? No different, unless there is some ingenious new mechanism being used. -------- If that isn't the case, this patent is worth nothing, and will likely be overturned at the first opportunity.

That's the point: one shot torpedo costing 500 bucks that does 5 million dollars worth of damage and years/months of wasted time (not to mention the FUD it creates).

Re:This Patent won't live long... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40165411)

Doing the same thing electronically?

You must be new here (in patent land). You cannot patent math, but you can patent math on a computer! It's different, really! So what if people have been giving gifts for thousands of years (I suspect even longer than that)? It's ON A COMPUTER so it is obvious novel and needs a government-enforced monopoly to promote further innovation!

Re:This Patent won't live long... (1)

Arrepiadd (688829) | about 2 years ago | (#40165455)

People have been "sliding to unlock" for hundreds (if not thousands) of years also and it hasn't prevented a certain company from patenting that...

When are we going to stop with this argument of "people have done this for X years" (where X is a large number)? It should be clear by now that either the patent system is too screwed as it is and prior art means nothing at all or that the electronic world is seen by the Patent Office as sufficiently different so that "sliding to unlock" and "gifting" can be awarded patents even though real world equivalents are too basic to merit a patent. Is it a bunch of crap? Yes, it is! Does it get patented anyway? Yes, it does!

Re:This Patent won't live long... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165709)

Giving gifts to others is something people have done for thousands of years. Doing the same thing electronically? No different, unless there is some ingenious new mechanism being used. -------- If that isn't the case, this patent is worth nothing, and will likely be overturned at the first opportunity.

If you checked TFA, you'd find that even the article notes that there's an unusual twist here... the gift giver can cancel the gift if the recipient has not accepted it, and is not charged. Most systems require the gift giver to pay first, and if the recipient refuses, they'd have to get a refund, at best.

Re:This Patent won't live long... (1)

psxndc (105904) | about 2 years ago | (#40165825)

Thank you, Theaetetus. I've enjoyed reading your responses over the last week. Slashdot has beaten me down to point where I don't have the energy to try and correct people, so I appreciate you saying all the things I'm too tired to say myself.

Did Amazon invent this? (1)

TraumaFox (1667643) | about 2 years ago | (#40165265)

Looking at how they describe their process of "e-gifting," I have to imagine this method was used somewhere, anywhere else first. I'm not up on patent law, but I thought you could essentially overrule a patent as long as you can prove you came up with it first.

Re:Did Amazon invent this? (0)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#40165519)

Welcome to the world of "First to File" patenting.

Re:Did Amazon invent this? (2)

psxndc (105904) | about 2 years ago | (#40165957)

God, your comment is so misinformed I want to explode.

  1. First-to-file actually doesn't go into effect until March 2013 so you are wrong on that front.
  2. This patent was filed in 2008, well before the AIA was signed into law, so even if the first-to-file aspect of AIA had gone into effect on Sept. 16, 2011, it would be irrelevant anyway to this patent
  3. Your comment - I assume - is some form of dig that first-to-file means companies have carte blanche to file patents on obvious ideas just because somebody doesn't already have a patent on it, which seems to be a viral misunderstanding of the law here on slashdot. First-to-file itself has nothing to do with determining patentability. The AIA - if anything - made it harder to get a patent because it increased what things could be considered when determining novelty of a claim, i.e., under the old laws, some invalidating product could be on sale in another country more than a year ago and it wouldn't be considered, whereas now it will be.

FFS, please STFU until you educate yourself on what you are commenting about.

My question is... (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 2 years ago | (#40165277)

How in the hell did they actually get something like this thru the patent office? If we just look around and come up with some every day thing everyone does and patent it... we can retire.

Steam (2)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#40165295)

I'd be more worried if I were Steam, to be honest. I hope their prior art was taken into account.

and the bottom of the barrel award goes to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165311)

because why come up with something original and unobvious right?

guaranteed profit (4, Interesting)

louic (1841824) | about 2 years ago | (#40165327)

1. pick a daily activity
2. put the word "electronic" in front of it
3. file for patent
4. profit

Re:guaranteed profit (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165439)

well you sir are infringing on my patent on electronic numbered lists that end with the word "profit"!

Re:guaranteed profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165835)

I think you will find I have patented prosecuting for patent-infringement.

Re:guaranteed profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40166051)

and you are infringing on my patent on electronically placing quotes around a word to give it emphasis!

Re:guaranteed profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165441)

To make things worse, there's a second patent con scheme:

1. pick an electronic patent that mimics a trivial daily activity
2. add the words "mobile device" here and there
3. file for patent
4. profit

Re:guaranteed profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165497)

or... "using a touchscreen", or... "on a tablet", or... "using gestures"

Dan Brown e-book (4, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#40165367)

A Dan Brown [ or Insert your own Author here ] e-book would be a punishment and not a gift. I call patent for punishment e-book giving.

Re:Dan Brown e-book (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165925)

I still don't understand this whole e-book thing. It's not a book it is a "FILE" right? I really wish everyone would call it what it is.

Re:Dan Brown e-book (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40166143)

A sequence of electromagnetic impulses?

This idea was not theirs to give (2)

spikenerd (642677) | about 2 years ago | (#40165409)

Thank you USPTO for gifting another piece of my mind to someone else. If I sell you the moon, does it then belong to you, or are you just an idiot for paying for it?

Nintendo has had this for years. (3, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#40165447)

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 [uspto.gov] , which was well after the release of the Nintendo Wii, and Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] 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.

Re:Nintendo has had this for years. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165697)

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 [uspto.gov] , which was well after the release of the Nintendo Wii, and Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] 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.

Did Nintendo's gift feature not bill you until the recipient accepted the game, or would it allow you to cancel the gift if it hadn't been redeemed? Or, more likely, did it bill you immediately and deliver the game?

If the latter, then it's not anticipatory prior art. The claims of this patent explicitly require:

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.

Re:Nintendo has had this for years. (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 2 years ago | (#40165777)

Sounds almost exactly like a Steam gift, with the minor exception that the payment wouldn't be up front. Determining whether the gift has been accepted, re-sending to another person, even allowing the recipient to "forward" it to someone else or outright decline it is all part of Steam.

Re:Nintendo has had this for years. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165853)

Sounds almost exactly like a Steam gift, with the minor exception that the payment wouldn't be up front.

That's in the patent claims, though, so to invalidate the patent, you have to find another reference that includes that bit.

Determining whether the gift has been accepted, re-sending to another person, even allowing the recipient to "forward" it to someone else or outright decline it is all part of Steam.

Those are actually only in dependent claims. This patent rises or falls on the fact that the gift giver isn't charged until after the recipient has accepted, and the gift giver can cancel the gift prior to acceptance ance is never charged.

It also means that if Steam doesn't do that, then Steam doesn't infringe.

Re:Nintendo has had this for years. (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 2 years ago | (#40166133)

I'm pretty sure Steam doesn't behave like Amazon's patent. The time I made a gift in Steam I was charged that day and the game immediately showed up in my friend's list of games without him having to do anything.

Re:Nintendo has had this for years. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#40165747)

I don't see a claim that the Wii Shop Channel infringes on, which do you think it does?

ugh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165475)

I don't want to live on this (electronic) planet anymore.

Will probably never be used. (3, Interesting)

will_die (586523) | about 2 years ago | (#40165615)

The patent is for a system where you can setup condition on the gifts you are given and before they are shipped allows you to change them, even sending you notification on what the original item was.
For example, person X gives you a some new book, you have previously setup a condition that all gifts get converted to gift cards. You receive notification that they sent you the book and you can then use the gift card to purchase anything you want.
I guess it saves some time and money of shipping the product back but who is really going to use it?

Re:Will probably never be used. (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#40165713)

Then why even apply for it? Not that it's not another prime example of the overhaul needed and not gotten of late in the patent system.

No - even the article admits it's different (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165679)

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:No - even the article admits it's different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40166117)

Take your logic and sane arguments elsewere, sir! We will have none of that. This is slashdot, after all.

Re:No - even the article admits it's different (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#40166155)

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.

The "unusual and nonobvious" part then has to do with a business transaction - terms of payment. IIRC business methods are out or on the way out for patents. In the real world part of this is covered by sending products C.O.D. (cash on delivery). Putting this in place via the net is literally taking an ordinary concept, putting "electronic" or "internet" in front of it and claiming a patent. Now if you think that is OK, then every new product ever devised should claim patents on using bolts, screws, snapping parts or whatever to hold it together. In the case of the internet, the network is like a bolt or glue and everyone is patenting existing stuff held together by the new fastener. That is bullshit. If there were to be a patent it should be on the glue, but the internet is 40 years old by now... Even the "modern internet" of www is 20 years old now. So this new glue is really just an existing tool at this point.

Article admits patent may be proper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40165685)

From the article:

"Maybe this stuff seemed innovative back in 2008, when Amazon applied for the patent. But four years later, it reads like a case study in the obvious."

A patent will issue unless there is PRIOR ART. If the invention was innovative in 2008, then the issuance of the patent was proper. The fact that it may be obvious NOW is not relevant; the question is whether it was novel when it was FILED.

This is patent law 101. Give me a break.

Novel is necessary, not sufficient. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#40166277)

Prior art is only one test. Novel is not sufficient, only necessary. Obviousness to a practitioner of the art should also invalidate a patent. This is a variation on layaway departments. You choose an item as a gift and the store holds it for you until later to pay for it. If you choose to not give the gift (or the recipient says they don't want it) you don't pay for it.

The only thing that is somewhat novel is that the acceptance of the item is split into a two-factor approval - you (at purchase) and the recipient (at acceptance). Traditionally, Amazon - and most larger online retailers - will allow you to select your item (your gift), then input your credit card information, then accept the item (click the purchase button), and ONLY WHEN THE ITEM SHIPS is your credit card charged. You can even go in an decline your item (your "gift") at any time before it ships and you (the giver) will not be charged for the item.

This is a "neat idea" not a novel invention.

PayPal (2)

hack slash (1064002) | about 2 years ago | (#40165717)

PayPal have a payment option called "gift" which is a payment method not intended for purchasing items as the sender cannot file a "item not received" type complaint against the recipient to get the money back.

And everyone knows that money is one of the best gifts to receive, so are Amazon going to go after PayPal? That would be funny, it's not like they're small companies..

Re:PayPal (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40165775)

PayPal have a payment option called "gift" which is a payment method not intended for purchasing items as the sender cannot file a "item not received" type complaint against the recipient to get the money back.

Important distinctions. As you note, with PayPal, you pay first, the recipient declines and the sender can file an item not received complaint and get a refund. That's the opposite of the patent, which recites:

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.

In the patent, the gift giver is not billed until the recipient accepts... and the gift giver can cancel prior to the recipient accepting the gift, and they're never billed. There's no refund process required.

PayPal isn't anticipatory prior art, but it also doesn't infringe.

Is it any wonder... (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 2 years ago | (#40165805)

... that regular everyday people regard copyright and patents as a pathetic joke and ignore them?

New US Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40166121)

1. old patent/idea
2. same thing, but *on a computer*
3. same thing, but *on a mobile device and location-based*
4. ???
5. profit!

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