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Bezos Patents Information Exchange

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the i-can't-tell-you dept.

Patents 173

theodp writes "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was handed a patent Tuesday for Information exchange between users of different web pages. Tough to tell what exactly it might cover ('various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention'), although RSS Newsreaders, TrackBacks, and Google News come to mind. Elements of Bezos' invention may evoke a sense of deja vu in those who used Third Voice or the Annotation Engine."

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173 comments

fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437012)

fp woo woo woo woo woo

et (-1)

lemon031 (723755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437019)

et

Oh yeah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437028)

Slashdot is going to be furious about this.

GO!

deja vu indeed (2, Interesting)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437030)

Is it time to re-institute the boycott?

Re:deja vu indeed (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437073)

Is it time to re-institute the boycott?

Yeah, but then how can you order wine over the Net?

Just read in Seattle PI that Amazon's doing that now.

Re:deja vu indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437290)

Is it time to re-institute the boycott?

I'm in. Of course I have bought from them in years so it really doesn't make a difference to me.

Boycott the USPTO, not Amazon (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437432)

Amazon, Microsoft, and many others stack up their patents like cold war super powers building up weapons. The idea is that so long as you don't fall too far behing in the arms race you can hold your position.

To an extent, the people locked in the game are almost, but not quite, the victims. You can't reasonably say fsckit I'm not playing the patent game any longer - the others would be onto you like a pack of hungry street dogs attacking a weakened comrade. The USPTO loves the fact that they're processing heaps of patents and generating nice revenue. It makes them look powerful and important. Like the arms race, the only people that won out of it were the arms suppliers - not the recers themselves.

Re:Boycott the USPTO, not Amazon (1, Redundant)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437982)

You know what I'm gonna patent? The business practice of patenting absolutely anything and everything under the sun. Then I can sue MS and Amazon for like a bazillion kajillion dollars. Or else sell one of them the patent rights and live like a king.

Re:Boycott the USPTO, not Amazon (4, Insightful)

symbolic (11752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12438098)

To an extent, the people locked in the game are almost, but not quite, the victims

It seems more likely that the scope of victimization extends far beyond just the companies involved. A patentholder could exercise any and or all of its claims at any point, and at any terms, leaving those on the other side in a somewhat tenuous state. I see this as a way to raise the barrier of entry quite substantially. Once, all it took was a good idea and some programming skill, Now, almost certainly, one will need adequate legal counsel as well, which for many, simply isn't an option.

The USPTO loves the fact that they're processing heaps of patents and generating nice revenue.

That's about all it's generating. This madness certainly isn't helping is stated purpose, which is to foster innovation.

Like the arms race, the only people that won out of it were the arms suppliers

Don't forget the lawyers. They're masters at the art of bottom-feeding and scavenging off others' misfortune.

boycott software patents (3, Interesting)

ylikone (589264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437453)

everybody start violating them and completely ignoring them. they can't sue everybody. right?

Re:boycott software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437741)

Isn't that what 10K P2P file sharers said about RIAA?

Holy... (4, Informative)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437036)

ABSTRACT OF THE PATENT:

A method and system for allowing users of different web pages to exchange information. The information exchange system identifies groups of related web pages and maintains a database of user-supplied information for each group of related web pages. When a user accesses a web page, the information exchange often displays in a separate area the information associated with the group of related web pages. Also, the information exchange system allows the user to enter information that will be displayed to other users who access related web pages.

Note the prevalence of 'user-supplied'. From my interpretation, it's just a system that allows users to provide information about a category of 'related' web pages, and for that to show up.

Sounds suspiciously like Wikipedia to me.

Re:Holy... (2, Insightful)

smokeslikeapoet (598750) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437079)

Wikipedia? Yeah I guess so, but I think Bezos has patented the whole idea of the World Wide Web. A bunch of users, with a bunch of content, all linked to each other when some sort of relevant information is available.

Can you say "Prior Art?" We knew you could.

Abstract indeed. (2, Interesting)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437098)

Sounds suspiciously like Wikipedia to me.

or like del.icio.us [del.icio.us] or any other tag based link manager.

Re:Holy... (4, Interesting)

Paleomacus (666999) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437116)

Also, the information exchange system allows the user to enter information that will be displayed to other users who access related web pages.

Sounds like he patented Slashdot and any kind of forum system.

Re:Holy... (4, Informative)

ravind (701403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437169)

There's a very good article [syr.edu] here about what getting a patent actually means.

To quote:
"the question is not whether you will be able to obtain a patent, a patent most certaily will be able to be obtained. In fact, by some estimates well over 90% of all patent applications ripen into some form of an issued United States patent."

And from another example [syr.edu] :
The fact that a patent can be obtained or has been obtained does not mean that a valuable asset has been obtained, and this "invention" is a wonderfully vibrant example of that. There must always be consideration given to whether the protection that is or could be obtained is worthwhile to obtain in light of the intended use.

So if Bezos wants to waste his money on lawyers, good for him.

Re:Holy... (1)

onallama (515297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437284)

USPTO delenda est.

Re:Holy... (4, Insightful)

natrius (642724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437304)

So if Bezos wants to waste his money on lawyers, good for him.

Bezos has the money to spend on patents. College students in a garage developing Amazon++ don't. The threat of legal action shuts them down. That's why patents shouldn't be granted like that. A suit for anything else would get thrown out as frivolous. Once you have a patent, you have to spend money to get it invalidated. Uncool, and unconstitutional. Instead of "promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts," it hinders it.

Re:Holy... (1)

1ucius (697592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437768)

Silly patents are absolutely irrelevant. Even if they can prove you do infringe, all the patent holder can collect is a "reasonable royalty." A reasonable royalty, in turn, is the amount of $ someone would have paid for a license. If you can rewrite the code in an hour and/or remove it without really caring (i.e., it's a silly patent), the reasonable royalty works out to be around $150, max.

Re:Holy... (5, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437867)

I don't know what country YOU live in, but here in the good ol' USA the patent holder can charge any amount for licensing the patent. They can charge per year. They can charge per user. They can charge per unit. MPEG was considering charging mpeg4 encoders per minute of encoded video. They can charge nothing and let anyone use it. They can charge nothing and let NOBODY use it.

In terms of court trials over infringing on some silly patent, if you're found to be knowingly infringing you're out triple the normal damages. Oh, and if you want to get a silly patent struck down? It STILL takes a court battle to get a judgement proving that your invention doesn't infringe, or that the patent is invalid, and if you lose, it pretty much demonstrates that you knew about the patent and infringed it.

Re:Holy... (1)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437190)

Actually it sounds *exactly* like the Third Voice mentioned in the summary.

Re:Holy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437319)

You guys have got to stop interpreting the patent's coverage based on the abstract. The abstract is just an abstract of the disclosure and is a convenience to determine what's disclosed. If you want to know what the patent covers, you must read and construe the claims. Period. There's no other way.

Reading the disclosure and then trumpeting a view on what the patent covers is like looking for your car keys under a streetlight a block away from where you dropped them. It's easier, but you don't get any results.

Claims, claims, claims.

Denying people free use of web technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437380)

I don't care if this is just the abstract.

The point here is simple, and universal. Web technology allows people many degrees of freedom in applying it in many different ways --- that's what makes it so useful. Nobody has any right to cut out a portion of that freedom and proclaim that it belongs to them. Period.

Re:Denying people free use of web technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437601)

>

That's fine, but what you're saying by this is that you don't care whether you know what you're talking about. And in that case, there's just no reason to take you seriously.

Re:Holy... (1)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437805)

Holy Crap. Where in Hell's Bathroom does he come up with these ideas?

Guess what? He's come forward in time from the 60s and 70s and invented the BBS!

What will he think of next?
smoke signals?
telegraph?
telephone?
car phone of the 70s?
radio?
jungle drums?
cell phones?
tv (black and white will do)?
the 40 lb. Compaq "portable" PC (before they went bankrupt the first time)?

He just has too much time on his hands.

I used to say this:

"Someday we'll find Microsoft has patented the alphabet and every time we sit down at the keyboard we'll find ourselves paying royalties."

I guess I'm wrong. Maybe Jeff will beat Microsoft to it?

Remember the "Be Like Mike!" commercials?

I think we'll see a remake as "Be Like Jeff!"

(When we're discussing Jeff and Bill, I have a very hard time clicking the [Submit] button. I do too much submitting to them as it is)

Re:Holy... (1)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437911)

Okay, I reread the patent information.

My previous message dealt with persistence.

The patent description could just as easily be real-time or semi real-time.

That means the definition of web pages would have to be made.

Would IMs qualify? The UI as a form might qualify as a web page and the communication between users of different web pages would seem to fit. IRC with a web twist? How about games which are played by two (or more) players across web forms? No matter how common the game would be, it would qualify.

There are going to be a lot of unhappy people who are going to have to install a coin slot into a USB port and plop a little silver via PayPal[1] in just to play Hearts against each other.
There's a lot of prior art here.


[1] once Amazon enforces a forthcoming patent for users outbidding each other and takes PayPal as a settlement from eBay.

All you have to do is prove Prior Art (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437053)

and then hire about 5000 very well paid lawyers ...

if you want to dispute the Patent.

Maybe we should admit that the software Patent concept is just wrong?

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437271)

The problem is not with software patents. The problem is that the Patent Office is handing out all sorts of patents left right and center, without checking for prior art or non-obviousness. And there's no way to effectively dispute it without spending millions going to court.

Just because the current system has been abused beyond all recognition does not mean that the concept of software patents is a bad thing.

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (3, Insightful)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437704)

Just because the current system has been abused beyond all recognition does not mean that the concept of software patents is a bad thing.
Maybe not, but it is a data point supporting that argument.

If we want to go back to first principles, start by asking what the purpose of a 'patent' is. Then see if software patents achieve, or are ever likely to achieve that purpose.

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (4, Insightful)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437370)

You know the patent is complete bullshit when they start adding in things like:

various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention

Especially when the patent itself is already vague. If you were the first to design and build a piston-driven internal combustion engine, and you want to cover different sized pistons, different numbers of pistons, and different piston formations (V, I, radial, etc) ... then fine.

But when your patent is already vague, ie 'a different method for doing something that tons of people already do' and then you add 'various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention' you're basically asking the patent office to give you the right to rip everyone else off.

You know what I think the patent office needs to do? Suspend granting any more software patents until they can get their ass in shape. Maybe _no_ software patents is the answer, maybe _some_ software patents is the answer, I don't know. All I know is that the current system is complete bullshit, rubbish, etc and needs to be put on hiatus until we can properly figure out what the hell is going on and what constitutes ingenuity in software.

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (2, Informative)

drphil (320469) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437780)

" You know the patent is complete bullshit when they start adding in things like:

various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention"

Nope, this is standard patent language. This is to prevent someone from claiming something like "I did this on a web page with a black background which isn't specifically covered in the patent spec and therefore I'm not infringing."

If you read the rest of the paragraph, the patent coverage is bounded by what's in the claims.

I'm not sticking up for this or any other software patent - but the language you attack can be seen in many patents and is put there to restrict trivial changes from escaping infringement.

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (1)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437969)


You know the patent is complete bullshit when they start adding in things like:

various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention


This is nothing more that standard, age old boilerplate used in patent specifications that has no added meaning. Its presence or absence will make actually no difference in any court case.

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (1)

Axe (11122) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437381)

Maybe we should admit that the software Patent concept is just wrong?

On one hand I agree.

On the other hand I do see some jerks making money off ideas I have helped to develop (signal processing, back when I was in physics). I wish I could have patented that then, for personal gain.

And then I cached off some patent portfolio powered aquisition.

So my other hand (then one I use to feed myself) disagrees. :)

Re:All you have to do is prove Prior Art (1)

acidrain (35064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437544)

Maybe we should admit that the software Patent concept is just wrong?

I case you missed it, the best part of all is that America tries to export this lunacy to the rest of the world as IP reform.

How screwed up is your government? The word reform would be recoiling in horror if it even cared anymore.

Maybe I should apply for a patent... (5, Funny)

The_Rippa (181699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437054)

Can you patent the concept of getting idiotic and vague patents on computer concepts?

Oh wait, too much prior art.

Re:Maybe I should apply for a patent... (3, Funny)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437105)

Can you patent the concept of getting idiotic and vague patents on computer concepts?

Or idiotic, vague, and inflammatory slashdot headlines; I'd patent those, but there's WAAAY too much prior art.

Re:Maybe I should apply for a patent... (1)

AdamWeeden (678591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437145)

Doesn't stop anyone else!

Re:Maybe I should apply for a patent... (0, Troll)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437200)

This joke is still funny?

Re:Maybe I should apply for a patent... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437358)

Can you patent the concept of getting idiotic and vague patents on computer concepts?

Sure! Some idiot had a patent for the first CPU and all he provided was football diagrams. I'm not sure how that case ever got resolved.

Re:Maybe I should apply for a patent... (1)

wyoung76 (764124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437369)

All the patent applications I've ever heard of come from people that are perfectly serious about them.

Furthermore, the applicants don't seem to think the applications are vague at all.

Re:Maybe I should apply for a patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437731)

Judging from many of the patents granted in recent years, prior art is not a real problem.

How about... (4, Funny)

Joff_NZ (309034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437055)

I patent kicking Jeff Bezos in the nuts.. oh no, wait, I'd want anyone to be free to do that in an unrestricted, royalty free fashion....

Re:How about... (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437102)

I suggest you GPL your invention.

That way, whenever anybody in the world kicks somebody in the nuts, they also have to kick Jeff as well.

MOD PARENT UP!!! (1)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437282)

I suggest you GPL your invention.

That way, whenever anybody in the world kicks somebody in the nuts, they also have to kick Jeff as well.

I have been using /. for years and this is the first time I've posted a "mod parent up" post. Holy crap. It almost made me force liquid through my nose.

- Greg

Re:How about... (1)

themoodykid (261964) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437838)

lol. Bravo, sir. Bravo.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437108)

Patent it and then LGPL it.

Re:How about... (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437139)

Better patenting and donate it to the open groin kicking software group then. Other wise someone will patent "Foot connecting to very small and pathtic size reproductive system" and well you're screwed,

Re:How about... (1)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437154)

.. I don't know - if you made the price reasonable you might get people lining up for their chance.

3. PROFIT!

Re:How about... (1)

globalar (669767) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437240)

That is far too specific for a patent anyway.

There are plenty of people who deserve a kick in the nuts. [caldera.com]

(IMHO)

Re:How about... (1)

GammaTau (636807) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437495)

At first glance I read the story headline as "Bozos Patent Information Exchange" and for once, I thought the headline fit the story.

Re:How about... (1)

natrius (642724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437632)

If you don't patent it, then someone else could do so and restrict the use of it. Instead, videotape yourself kicking Jeff Bezos in the nuts and share it on Kazaa as "BRITNEY SPEARS HAVING SEX WITH DONKEY.avi". If anyone tries to patent it, there'll be prior art all over the Internet.

And you wonder why (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437064)


80% of the world doesn't respect patents in software
this will just make people laugh at USA even more

when people can weigh software inventions or hold them in their hands then they might get accepted

Re:And you wonder why (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437373)

-1 unamerican

Oh my goodness (3, Insightful)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437069)

Clearly, this is an attempt to patent information transfer of an absurdly ordinary kind and we should all run around in circles of indignation without reading the actual patent or having any context whatsoever for the headline, which is as usual inflammatory.

I can't believe he's trying to patent all forms of information transfer on the internet! This is absurd and an example of why IP is wrong or its application corrupt!

Re:Oh my goodness (1)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437300)


Well, the headline is almost certainly inflamatory - this is /. after-all.

That said, it is clearly an attempt to patent information transfer of an absurdly ordinary kind

Parent seems to be modded troll unfairly as the second paragraph gives the lie to the first?!

Frickin' stoopid patent though.

In one embodiment... (3, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437070)

...the information exchange system provides a client-side component and a server-side component. The client-side component executes on a user's computer, and the server-side component executes on an information exchange computer. The client-side component, which may be a browser plug-in, a proxy server, or other type of program, monitors a user's access to web pages. When a web page is accessed...

Does that not make you want to retch? Legitimizing spyware with patents.

At least one can be fairly confident it won't "plug-in" to things not Windows.

implementation (1)

Sase (311326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437084)

Great how this software does not discuss where it comes into play..

Assumingly through a proxy, or web portal software...

But if it integrates into IE, Opera, Firefox, or whatever... which one will be chosen... Will there be a monopoly on Inter user exchange of data? Oh my!

So little time! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437089)

Isn't amazing that he has time to run Amazon and invent RSS newsreaders, Trackbacks and Google News!

That's pretty broad... (2, Insightful)

markana (152984) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437095)

At first glance, this appears to cover any sort of web-based forum, such as Slashdot. At least ones that allow users to post comments vieweable by other users.

Then again, /. may be their primary target :-)

I'll have to sit down and read over the 3 primary claims again (1,9,16), but I'll bet this thing's got P.A. all over it. Especially since they only cited *2* references, and thiese ideas have been out there for quite a while.

Re:That's pretty broad... (1)

imjustabigcat (715029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437573)

I agree.

After a cursory glance, the core of the patent seems to be the idea of using a comment system attached to a pattern or procedure that identifies groups of web pages to which those comments apply. The database is referenced via a plug-in or other (potentially client-server) method. The web sites in question may or may not be simultaneously visible. All of the claims regarding IRC, email, etc. are pre-emptive in nature so as to prevent someone from using this patent as the basis for an improvement.

The patent is incredibly broad (it even suggests that email falls within the purview of the claims). I'd imagine that most Wikis, Slashdot itself, many document management and IR systems as well as a few data mining tools probably apply. Usenet with embedded URL's (or even static images of web pages) comes to mind, and I'd bet that AOL, eBay, Webex and CompuServe would have something to say about all this. Most blogs (and their precursors) are probably prior art, and I wouldn't be surprised if several well-established comparison shopping sites applied.

The patent was filed in 2001, which is fairly late in the game to be claiming things like this as unique and non-obvious.

I'm filing patents for... (2, Funny)

monopole (44023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437132)

Luser CEO attitude re-adjustment tool (LCART)(pat. pend.)
and
Luser Patent Examiner attitude re-adjustment tool (LPEART) (pat. pend.)

Using this patent as proof that neither innovation has an example of a effectively deployed prior art. I will of course licence such devices to any indivdual as long as he demonstrates a willingness to use them in the field.
Items used by the much deserving recipents of adjustment to shield themselves will be punished for the use of circumvention devices to the full extent of the law, followed by further adjustment.

Re:I'm filing patents for... (1)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12438060)

Patent #625354434436563653

Title: The Jeff Bezos Scrotum Destroying Kick

Scope:

This patent applies to all methods of kicking Jeff Bezos in the scrotum in an effort to progenerate irreversible damage to the reproductive system. Heretofore the scrotum may be referred to as balls, nuts, jangles, hairy walnut,twig'n'berries, groin, nads, scroties, scroticles, bushdongles, daddybag, teabag, chin wipers, swigglers, tom&jerry, or whatever other term one can conjure for that region of the body.

This patent covers all forms of kinetic energy tranfer to Jeff Bezos scrotum via forward pedaltic motion. This includes the standard square on kick to the balls, reveresed spiked heel kick to the balls, and the ever popular double mule kick to the nut sack.

This patent does not cover other methods patented by other members of slashdot, such as the swing cinder block to the scroties or the jackhammer to the Bezos grunties.

The shotgun to the balls will not be used as that is patented by Quentin Tarintino.

~X~

Bezos is a PR Whore (5, Interesting)

hoka (880785) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437182)

I followed Bezos freshmen year for an research writing class since I was researching Tech Patent law. I can safely say that Bezos is just a pure PR whore when it comes to patents, his current patents have various issues and are very over-generalized. I've yet to fully read through this one but it appears no different. When he originally took heat he started a group to "revolutionize" the tech patent industry, where people who find prior art to bad patents would be rewarded. Of course he put up Amazons patents up for prize money, and when people started to come in with information as prior art, he claimed that they were "too different" and shut down completely. The contact information and phone number has been obsolete/cut off for years.

MOD PARENT UP PLEASE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437281)



Re:MOD PARENT UP PLEASE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437310)

Why? Need the karma points?

I just thought of this. (3, Insightful)

gnuadam (612852) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437204)

I understand the need to complain about the patents that are issued over software in the US, but let me ask a question. Has anyone thought that articles such as this might later be used as evidence that OSS programmers should have been aware of the existence of the patent, and set them up for the triple damages provision of patent law?

Just a thought.

Re:I just thought of this. (1)

nkh (750837) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437372)

But no one reads the articles on /., we're safe as long as the judge knows it ;)

Re:I just thought of this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437924)

OSS programmers should have been aware of the existence of the patent,

Before or after they wrote the program? If the program was written now, it's possible that they'd have read the article and the patent. You'd still have to prove it though... in civil lawsuits you don't have to prove it 100%, but if you can only prove it halfway, you're not going to get all the money.

If someone wrote it after the patent was applied for and before it was granted, then it may be possible that they were trolling the patent site for cool ideas, though again you'd have to prove it. If the programmers read this article and reworked the implementation to no longer infringe, then there is no reasonable case, unless you're going to sue for a few days worth of infringement.

If someone wrote it before the patent was applied for, then it'd be Prior Art, and Bezos would have to be pretty stupid to try and sue them.

Amazon gone Evil? (1)

weasello (881450) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437237)

When is Amazon going to learn that aggregation of patents is not the way to win over the hearts of the masses? When will amazon officially go evil on us and start reporting on our usage information?!? waahh

Re:Amazon gone Evil? (2, Insightful)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437265)

Q) How many patent lawsuits has amazon filed?


A) one against bn.com 5 years ago.


Patents are defensive as well as offensive, also amazon has it's own notation prior ar

Re:Amazon gone Evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437502)

How many patent lawsuits has amazon filed?

If we didn't allow silly patents like this in the first place, by any party, then we probably would be able to say the same thing, without having to worry about the possibility of a lawsuit.

Invalid? (2, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437264)

One of the things I've noticed on these software patents is that they often list the CEO of the company as one of the inventors. While that may be true some of the time, I wonder if Bezos is *really* one of the inventors of this technology under the definitons of US patent law.

It is an important point, becuase NOT having the correct inventors is one of the ways a patent can be ruled invalid or fraudulent (which I forget) in court.

I just submitted a patent too! (2, Funny)

riprjak (158717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437274)

This patent covers a novel invention for ultra-high bandwidth full duplex data transfer.

This invention comprises of the following components:
Carrier medium; a level, rigid surface no less than 8.0 meters wide. The exemplar is black bitumen.

Duplex Facilitation Indicator; a parallel strip of material (paint is used for the exemplar) of width 100.0 millimeters spaced 100.0 millimeters apart placed in the geometric centre of the carrier medium. Colour must be suffiently different to the carrier medium as to be easily visible to the human eye at a distance of 20.0 meters, the exemplar is yellow.

Data Packet; 1972 Ford XC Station Wagon containing no less than 10,000 Dual Layer DVD+RW.

The implementation of....

well, much as the joke should be funny, the sad fact that; properly gussied up by a patent attorney or, as I like to call them, waste of perfectly good oxygen; this would probably be granted a patent leads me to the inevetable conclusion that the patent system is permanently broken, being as it was intended to FACILITATE competition and progress, not stifle same.

That and we have continuing proof of the universe's phenomenal ability to produce bigger and better idiots.

err!
jak

Re:I just submitted a patent too! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437376)

Do you know the one good thing about Jeff Bezos?

He exhales carbon dioxide, which is needed by plants.

Teletypes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437289)

I mean, Bezos is a nice guy and all, but we used to do an equivalent thing with teletypes in the 1960's, for crying out loud. Geez, the USPO sucks.

In other news ... (4, Funny)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437336)

  • Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has been granted a patent on the transfer of an object from one person to another (with or without a gap in time during which the object is in the possession of neither person).
  • Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been granted three (3) patents:
    1. Transportation of a human being via self-propelled vehicle with multiple circular suspension devices
    2. Winning the Tour de France
    3. Raising money by selling inexpensive but unique items of adornment
  • Mohatma Gandhi has been granted a patent for thwarting the plans of far-flung empires and changing the course of history by doing nothing
  • The editors of Slashdot have been granted a patent on the use of web site to disseminate the same information several times a week
(Sorry about that last one).

Re:In other news ... (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437356)

Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been granted three (3) patents: ...
Winning the Tour de France


But I hear Eddy Mercxx is claiming prior art. Seems winning the Giro, Tour and Vuelta all in one year may give him credibility that Armstrong will never have. Heh. Bring it.

Is there no end to the evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437353)

Lemme see, whatda think, maybe he just really needs even more money? But, heya, if he's such a hot businessman, why does he act so completely unethical?

Jeff, I just want to personally thank you for abusing, corrupting and perverting the public's due process. You should just be so damned proud of yourself. You're clearly a perfect and shining example of America's elite.

IMHE, most rich people are completely evil.

Actually... (3, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437355)

It sounds more like their various recommendations lists, like the "So you'd like to..." and "listmania", where users create thematic lists of products, each product being represented by a web page. Of course, because this is a patent, they want to make it as overly broad as possible so someone can't change the page background from white to light grey and say that grey pages aren't within the scope of the patent.

More to the point, though, I seem to recall on numerous occasiona that Bezos has argued against certain types of patents and for patent reform. His justification for most of these patents is to get the patent filed before someone else does and then tries to extort Amazon. Essentially, he claims to be filing as a defensive measure, not offensive.

I could have a very bad memory, but except for the "one-click" patent, I can't recall another patent Amazon has actively enforced.

- Greg

Re:Actually... (1)

Kwil (53679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437842)

Isn't one enough?

Re:Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437882)

I'm looking forward to Listmania IIDX.

This is what the patent really covers (4, Informative)

SquarePants (580774) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437394)

Reading Patents 101:

There are 3 independent claims, 1, 9 and 16. They are reproduced below. Forget about all of the flowery language in the description. The claims are what determines what the patent holder can prevent others from doing. If Bezos & Co. decides to enforce this patent, they would have to prove that the accused infringer is practicing EVERY ELEMENT of at least one of the claims. I will leave it to others to comment on how difficult that would be.

The claims are:

1. A method in a computer system for exchanging information between users of web sites, the method comprising:

providing a mapping between a first web site and a second web site;
when a first user accesses the first web site,
providing a web page of the first web site;
receiving information from the first user; and
storing the received information based on the provided mapping; and
when a second user accesses the second web site,
providing a web page of the second web site;
retrieving the stored information based on the provided mapping; and
providing a display of the retrieved information so that the first and second users can exchange information.

9. A method in a computer system for controlling the exchange of information between users of web pages, the method comprising:

receiving an indication of a web page from a first user computer;
retrieving the web page from a first web server;
sending the retrieved web page to the first user computer;
retrieving information associated with the web page, the retrieved information having been previously received from second user computer when accessing a web page of a second web server; and
sending the retrieved information to the first user computer.

16. A method in a computer system for accessing information associated with a web page, the method comprising:

sending a request for a first web page; and
in response to sending the request,
receiving the first web page; and
receiving information associated with the first web page, the information being previously entered by a user when accessing a second web page, the information having been entered separately from the second web page.

Re:This is what the patent really covers (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437705)

they would have to prove that the accused infringer is practicing EVERY ELEMENT of at least one of the claims. I will leave it to others to comment on how difficult that would be.

How would anybody know how difficult it would be? These vague claims say everything and nothing at the same time. They're almost meaningless.

If I interpret claim 16 a certain way, /. is infringing because the web page changes every time someone adds a new post, becoming a "second web page" where information from the old web page is presented. I'm sure that there are countless thousands of different systems out there already where information is entered on one web page and later shown with another web page. There is nothing in this claim that differentiates between any of those cases, or which shows how this patent adds anything unique.

It's just ridiculous. There used to be a time when a patent was supposed to actually describe something in particular.

Re:This is what the patent really covers (3, Informative)

Baricom (763970) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437742)

I confess that these aren't the best examples, mainly because I had trouble with words like "mapping." However, this patent seems "obvious" to me, a person who most people consider to be "skilled in the art."

1. A method in a computer system for exchanging information between users of web sites, the method comprising:

providing a mapping between a first web site and a second web site;
Slashdot includes an RSS feed that My Yahoo! knows how to read;

when a first user accesses the first web site,
providing a web page of the first web site;

When I visit http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] , the Slashdot web server gives me a web page;

receiving information from the first user; and
I submit an article;

storing the received information based on the provided mapping; and
Slashdot publishes the article;

when a second user accesses the second web site,
providing a web page of the second web site;

When my friend Jane Doe visits http://my.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] , the Yahoo! server gives her a web page;

retrieving the stored information based on the provided mapping; and
Yahoo! pulls Slashdot's RSS feed;

providing a display of the retrieved information so that the first and second users can exchange information.
Jane can now read my post. If Jane submits a story to Slashdot, I could similarly read her post.

9. A method in a computer system for controlling the exchange of information between users of web pages, the method comprising:

receiving an indication of a web page from a first user computer;
I decide I want to visit Slashdot, but I'm behind a firewall. I tell the proxy server to retrieve http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] for me;

retrieving the web page from a first web server;
The proxy server retrieves Slashdot;

sending the retrieved web page to the first user computer;
The proxy server sends Slashdot to my computer;

retrieving information associated with the web page,
the retrieved information having been previously received from second user
computer when accessing a web page of a second web server; and

My previously-mentioned friend Jane pulls the RSS feed from Slashdot via My Yahoo!;

sending the retrieved information to the first user computer.
And she sends it to me via IM.

16. A method in a computer system for accessing information associated with a web page, the method comprising:

sending a request for a first web page; and
I visit http://my.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] ;

in response to sending the request,
receiving the first web page; and

Yahoo! sends me back a web page from their server;

receiving information associated with the first web page,
the information being previously entered by a user when accessing a second web page,
the information having been entered separately from the second web page.

Yahoo! shows me my page, with the pages and modules I told them to put on my page at some earlier time via their configuration page.

Re:This is what the patent really covers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437964)

Reading Patents 101:

Good intro. Now welcome to Reading Patents 201:

The reason so many claims are added on to the "independent" claims is that if for some reason claim #9 is invalid (for instance, somebody already published something that does #9) then perhaps claim #9+new_thing_in_#10 is "novel" enough to still be patentable. If I write a patent like so:
1) a device which pats my head and rubs my tummy
2) a device as in 1 that additionally brushes my teeth

and it turns out you already had a device that pats heads and rubs tummies, I can say, "well sure! But does it brush my teeth?" If the answer is no, then claim #2 is still valid, even if claim #1 is ruled invalid.

Can't software patents be completely ignored? (2, Insightful)

ylikone (589264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437410)

I mean there are so many stupid/unfair/vague software patents out there, does anybody really need to take them seriously? Can't some ambitious lawyers come up with a way to show the absolute ridiculousness of software patents and get the courts to rule them ALL null and void?

Re:Can't software patents be completely ignored? (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437604)

At the very least, companies that make shareholder reports or seek venture capital have to report this sort of risk, or else when things go bad the executives who kept mum may get the orange jumpsuit.

It may or may not be true that software patents are dumb but the risk of lawsuits can make a difference to investors.

Filed March 1, 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437421)

What? To pass any sane definition of "innovative", I was expecting something filed in the 1990s. It is hard to decide which test this patent should fail first. It is both fairly obvious and has ample prior art for most of what is described.

Things this might or might not apply to... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12437430)

...since the wording is so general (not particularly exhaustive or definitive):

Passport.net
Google (Ads)
Any webring
Certain social networks/blogs

I think the lawyers are going to have a field day with this one.

Another chip in favor of .... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437469)

... the invalidation of the USPTO.

Value is only given to a government body because the people have agreed upon it.

Read the declaration if Independance.... for the first time....

Perhaps it needs to be written again but with current examples of government abuse of the people.

Re:Another chip in favor of .... (1)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437656)

To be fair, it's only software patents that are in as miserable a state of affairs as to render the whole system ineffective. Patents on technology in other industries still function as they were intended - to protect the inventor rather than to stifle potential inventors.

I think the poster has the wrong angle (1)

PepeGSay (847429) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437506)

The patent is more about system that allows meta-information for pages. Like a system to comment on /. and if we both have the application I can read your comments. *NOT* thinks like RSS.

It is still a sorta silly patent.

Annotea Project (2, Informative)

Feneric (765069) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437552)

With the mention of both Third Voice and the Annotation Engine, I'm surprised the somewhat more standard (or at least endorsed by the W3C) Annotea [w3.org] wasn't referenced.

Besides having native support in Amaya [w3.org] , there's a plug-in [mozdev.org] being actively developed for the Mozilla family of browsers.

Re:Annotea Project (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437672)

Annotea cannot count as prior art.
The project was established in dec 01
the patent was filed before that (march 01).
Sorry try again.

I'm going to patent something too... (1)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437574)

I'm going to patent the word patent. And if I can't patent that one then I'll patent Trademark. And if that one doesn't work, I'll patent Copyright. Wait..you mean that is a STUPID idea?

The USPO.... (3, Interesting)

going_the_2Rpi_way (818355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437598)

continues to be completely out to lunch. What a waste of everyones time. Someone really has to sort them out. The patents they issue are neither novel (the 'prior art' condition, for one is a farce) nor enforceable. And what about when a couple of companies gang up to extend a patent well beyond it's expiration date (see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000AF01 8-31CA-1FFB-B1CA83414B7F0000 [sciam.com] ) I mean either issue meaningful, enforceable patents that are less specious (and hence harder targets for legal challenges) or just call a spade a spade: the bigger guys get to keep their ideas while the new kids are S.O.L. I urge anyone who thinks I'm exagerating to take a look periodically at the "Staking Claims" columns in SciAm. Better yet, talk to someone who works at the USPO.

Patent Public Review (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437626)

I think before patents are granted, the process needs one more step added to it. PUBLIC REVIEW. If the public can find prior art or can somehow vote that it is too obvious, cannot be created or is in some way "bullshit" then the public should be able to reject the application before it is put into place.

Re:Patent Public Review (3, Informative)

SquarePants (580774) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437811)

Except for a few cases, every patent application filed is published 18 months after it is filed. During the first 30 days after publication the public can forward any prior art it wishes the USPTO to consider in examining the application. I know it is not the same as the post-issuance opposition that you are suggesting but it is available. Yet, for all the complaining, this right of the public to comment on prospective new patents is almost never exercised.

A lot of people here often complaint about how thinghs "should be" yet they don't even bother to learn how things are.

Did anyone else read it as... (2, Funny)

enginuitor (779522) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437799)

..."Bozos Patent Information Exchange"?

The Burden of Proof is on Examiner ... (5, Interesting)

drphil (320469) | more than 9 years ago | (#12437806)

Just an aside:
I took a two hour patent tutorial today on Patent Prosecution. One thing I didn't realize is that the burden of proof is on the Examiner to prove why an application shouldn't be a patent - not on the inventor to prove why it should be a patent. The laws govening why something shouldn't be a patent are actually quite simple - however interpretation of these laws have kept patent lawyers happy for many years.
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