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New Amazon Patent Cites Bezos Patent Reform

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the give-an-inch-they'll-charge-you-a-mile dept.

Patents 198

theodp writes "In seeking yet another patent related to 'single-action ordering of items,' Amazon asked the USPTO to consider a number of documents, including Doonesbury cartoons, which Amazon earlier claimed vindicated its 1-Click patent. Ironically, much of this material was collected and edited by BountyQuest, which reportedly received $1+ million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the name of patent reform. A USPTO examiner dutifully considered the material, and on Tuesday U.S. Patent No. 6,907,315 was issued to Amazon."

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hey (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821775)

i love you, and using nytimes.com links hurt me. why do you hurt me?

Re:hey (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821784)

why do you hurt me?

Because I love you, you love me, we're a sadomaso family.

KFG

MOD PARENT UP (0, Offtopic)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821897)

C'mon, folks. It's funny.

Re:hey (1)

Barnoid (263111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821788)

Bugmenot [bugmenot.com] gives you tons of logins.

Re:hey (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821960)

You only hurt the ones you love. I read that somewhere.

I'm suing--- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821781)

I patented the technique of citing patent reform in a patent AGES ago, I mean, AGES, like only 20 years after I saw some prior art.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821785)

the patent mentions nothing about the way in which the click is made. the lefties shall rise up. watch out.

Technical Inovation Indeed (5, Insightful)

nhnfreespirit (809462) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821786)

I used to think that patents had something to do with inventing something new and non-trivial... Just shows how naive I've been...
Today it seems, You can get a patent on anything that has not been explicitly described in a patent by someone else.

New patent submission!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821807)

New patent submission: "PATENT FOR ANYTHING NOT EXPLICITLY DESCRIBED IN ANOTHER PATENT"

"blah blah legalese..."

I wonder if I'll get this one :)

Re:New patent submission!!! (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822795)

You doubt?

Since the USTPO approved just under half of the 179,000 patents applied for each year, you have a 50-50 chance of getting this one.

Enjoy the Bahamas!

Re:Technical Inovation Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822003)

It has always been this way, the only difference now is that the average /. reader can see the trivial aspect of a lot of Internet/computer related patents.

At university I attended a seminar on business development and patents where the patent lawyer used the example of nails and screws and how they appear the same to engineers while to lawyers they are as different as cats and dogs.

Re:Technical Inovation Indeed (1)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822062)

This is very true. Just pick up some stuff someday and look, most stuff has a patent number on them. From paper bags to bottle caps to different types of paper cups. It's silly.

Re:Technical Inovation Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822376)

Thanks for your input. Now I'd like to hear from someone who actually read the patent. It IS new and non-trivial.

Re:Technical Inovation Indeed (2, Informative)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822559)

Trivial has nothing to do with it. The requirements that you are thinking of are NOVEL and NON-OBVIOUS. New and novel are similar, though technically not the same. However, non-trivial and non-obvious are very different in the legal sense. Something may be trivial, but non-obvious. For example, a hole punch is a pretty trivial thing to make. Its simply a cylinder that presses into a hole. But before the first hole punch was made, it was certainly not obvious to make a hole punch.

Business value? (4, Insightful)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821789)

In all seriousness -

a) how the hell to they hope to ever enforce this

b) how can they prove the absence of prior art - people have been doing 'one click shopping' in a non digital fashion 'i'll take one of those jim, charge my account' for hundreds of years

and c) where's the gain? You spend $1,000,000+ attempting to prove your IP rights over something, but, as a result of a and b, can't profit from it (you profit from the one-click system in itself, but not by restricting its use by others).

I can understand patenting it, if they feel they have a prior art, and want to prevent others using it, but is it really worth the expense? Nobody is going to blow amazon out of the water any time soon...

Re:Business value? (2, Insightful)

Rattencremesuppe (784075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821798)

how can they prove the absence of prior art

They don't have to.

Re:Business value? (2, Insightful)

HelterSkelterMelter (892306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821844)

Am I the only person who thinks 1-click shopping is a bad idea anyway? I like to review my purchases, see how much postage their gunna charge me, see what my delivery options are before I commit to them.

Re:Business value? (4, Insightful)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821860)

I like to review my purchases, see how much postage their gunna charge me, see what my delivery options are before I commit to them.

Exactly

That's why one click shopping is great - not for you, for them. If they can circumvent you reviewing, checking, and considering, they're far more likely to get impulse sales, which equal $$$$$$$.

Re:Business value? (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821872)

True, and also, who gives a toss if Amazon are the only people who do it? It's certainly pretty close to the bottom of my list of priorities when deciding whether or not to shop at a given website. In fact, it's probably not far away from 'CEO is a dick'.

Re:Business value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822075)

It makes a lot more sense as to why they would want a patent like this when you think in terms of micro payments rather than bigger items.
Single click to get to an article and charge $0.005 to my account. That could be worth trying to enforce if only to block others from using it.

Re:Business value? (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821864)

b) how can they prove the absence of prior art

They don't have to. If you think that you have prior art that invalidates the patent, you have to prove it. They'll most likely attempt to prove that your prior art isn't, but you don't have to try to disprove the existence of any prior art at all, that would be unworkable.

Re:Business value? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821888)


a) how the hell to they hope to ever enforce this
. . . snip . . .
and c) where's the gain?


1) Make a load of money doing something and hire lots of lawyers
2) Patent any really obvious thing that comes to mind that relates to 1 in anyway whatso ever
3) Watch and laugh as people who have fewer lawyers than you don't bother setting up competing companies.
4) If any smaller competitors look to be gaining on you pick a patent and threaten them with it. It doesn't matter if the patent would be overturned by a good legal team, they probably can't afford one.
5) Continue to make profit as per 1
6) More profit

Patents are the legal way to prevent competition in your chosen market. If you're a big established company patents are your friend.

Occasionally a little guy might get very lucky and manage to hit you with one, but in the long run the huge portfolio you can maintain will cement your position.

How to enforce the patents? (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821909)

Computers, of course!!!!!!!

Hey, see, we can put the human genome in a database. Surely we can put all the things a human genome-derived human can invent in a database.

You think I'm kidding. Unfortunately, patent lawyers do not.

Re:Business value? (2, Insightful)

Strawser (22927) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821922)

> c) where's the gain?

I can only guess, but I would suppose they could try to make a profit by charging other e-commerce companies for using automated billing, or they want to try to sell the patent, or they want to wedge their way into being some kind of front end order processing provider for ecomerce shops.

Then again, they did try to sue B&N dot com for using something similar, so maybe the whole plan is just to harass competitiors.

Re:Business value? (2, Interesting)

ManxStef (469602) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822699)

What made me laugh out loud was the fact that the US Patent Office itself has an online ordering cart that seems (at least, from quickly reading the abstract) to fit the criteria of the patent they just granted to Amazon, and it's displayed on the very same page as the patent [uspto.gov] ! (Indeed, you can use it to buy a paper copy of the patent.) So they may well owe Amazon some royalties. Oh, the irony! :)

Cookie patent (3, Insightful)

roarl (137495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821791)

Seems to me they have just patented cookies. How can this not be obvious?

Re:Cookie patent (2, Informative)

bovinewasteproduct (514128) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821826)

Seems to me they have just patented cookies.

The problem is that the abstract and summary do not really count. It is the specific claims that do. The abstract is the same as their 1999 patent and the summary is about 95% the same. The claims on the otherhand are different.

Either the patent office had a mix up, or they used the same application with slight mods...:)

BWP

Re:Cookie patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822537)

or they used the same application with slight mods

This is likely. Despite the malaise leveled towards patent attorneys here on /. about patent attorneys supposedly making millions off their clients, reusing text from an existing or previous application is commonlace to save the client money. It also is useful if you are trying to claim a priority date back to the original application.

Cite your sources! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821795)

I'm glad to hear that Doonesbury is now considdered a reliable source for legal issues! I'll have to keep that in mind for my future research papers.

Re:Cite your sources! (2, Insightful)

Loonacy (459630) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822048)

I think the point of the Doonesbury comic is: If a comic strip artist can think of one click shopping via a computer, then it's not very non-trivial, is it?

Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821801)

Its worded vaguely enough to cover all eCommerce.

Isn't there some sort of lawsuit you can bring against the patent office to force them to do their job?

Also is there anyway to check on the sharedealings of patent reviewers? Forgive my suspiciousness but when patent reviewers are so determined to do their job badly, I wonder if they have an underlying motive.

Re:Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821808)

Isn't there some sort of lawsuit you can bring against the patent office to force them to do their job?

I heard of a procedure called "ballot". Time to use it for this purpose, perhaps? :)

Re:Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821849)

I heard of a procedure called "ballot". Time to use it for this purpose, perhaps? :)

okay.. and vote for who ? Obviously not a republican since they love the patent office. Vote for a democrat ? Based on their actions for the last 15 years they seem to be falling in love with psychotic american capitalism as well. Guess I'm stuck voting for Kucinich ? Great.

Re:Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (4, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822050)

Oh, a ballot.

How, exactly, do you propose I use mine to push for patent reform? By voting for a Bush? For a Democrat? For a no-hoper with a thousand other perfectly worthy lost causes to think about?

Perhaps if you figure out how you could patent the method -- there's no prior art that I can see. Failing that, wake the fuck up and smell the coffee.

Re:Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821885)

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought the general pattern was this:

You apply for a patent and pay the USPTO money. More often than not, they accept your patent. They couldn't care less as to its content; they don't have the time or the money to become experts at EVERYTHING. Registering a patent just means that you'll have an extra card in your deck when you take someone to court over a patent issue.

When you notice someone infringing on your patent, you sue them. It is then at that court case where everyone pores over the gory details and it is decided if the patent is enforceable or not.

Re:Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821973)

You forgot the part where millions of dollars are paid to lawyers on both sides. Or maybe not ... if the allegedly infringing company can't afford a defense then the patent holder wins by default, regardless of the merits of the patent. That's the problem ... it's just not good enough to say, "Ah well, just issue the patent, they'll sort it out later." A "worthless" patent can have just as much power as a legitimate one when it comes to suppressing competition, because it costs so much to defend against it.

Re:Filed May 22, 2003, covers all eCommerce (2, Interesting)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822179)

Actually, this application is continuation (i. e. based strictly on the disclosure) of a previous application which issued as Patent No. 6,615,226 which was filed on 9/12/1997, wich in turn was filed as a Continuation in part of a third application which matured as Patent No. 5,715,399, filed 5/30/1995, which, yet in turn, was based on a fourth application, issued as 5,727,163, filed on 3/30/1995. A "continuation in part" is an application which adds additional disclosure to a previous application; any claim which relies on the newly added material will only get the benefit of the actual filing date of the CIP, but claims supported by the "parent" application get the benefit of the parent application's filing date.

Those wishing to look into the prosecution history for issued patents can get online information via the PAIR [uspto.gov] portal. The information includes a "Transaction History" from which one may surmise an outline of what happened (rejections, responses, interviews, etc.) More recent applications also provide images of the application contents, so you can actually read the examiner's action and the applicant's responses, including arguments and how the claims were amended.

This application had one rejection, an amendment, and then was allowed. I tried to view the rejection (via the "Image File Wrapper" tab) but got very sporadic results for the built in pdf viewer; maybe it would work better for someone else.

The parent application seems to deal with a totally different invention involving the display of a form document in sections, each section showing some description with a clickable element to then expand to input data fields, which, can, in turn, be collapsed back to the description (seems like the current patent should have been a division rather than a continuation, but what do I know; wouldn't make a difference in the analysis). This parent application was finally rejected to which Amazon appealed to the Board of Appeals (part of the PTO) which reversed the examiner. It doesn't seem to me to be relevant to this patent since the claims are directed to such disparate subject matter. Unfortunately, the parent patent file date is not available online, so one would have to order a copy of the application ($$$ + time) or go to the PTO (or whereever the case is stored these days) to look at it.

The CIP applications seem to deal with using truncated credit card numbers as a security measure, and probably don't have supporting disclosure for this patent, but I didn't check this, so, maybe they do.

As to the merits of this patent, seems like a bunch of crap to me. I'd be curious to see the full rejection by the examiner and applicant's amendment to the claims and arguments to pursuade the examiner to allow the application.

Text of granted patent (3, Informative)

B2382F29 (742174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821803)

A method and system for placing an order to purchase an item via the Internet. The order is placed by a purchaser at a client system and received by a server system. The server system receives purchaser information including identification of the purchaser, payment information, and shipment information from the client system. The server system then assigns a client identifier to the client system and associates the assigned client identifier with the received purchaser information. The server system sends to the client system the assigned client identifier and an HTML document identifying the item and including an order button. The client system receives and stores the assigned client identifier and receives and displays the HTML document. In response to the selection of the order button, the client system sends to the server system a request to purchase the identified item. The server system receives the request and combines the purchaser information associated with the client identifier of the client system to generate an order to purchase the item in accordance with the billing and shipment information whereby the purchaser effects the ordering of the product by selection of the order button.

Re:Text of granted patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821811)

Wow! How is something this generic considered "patent reform?" Please, tell me the original poster was being sarcastic!

Re:Text of granted patent (1)

rfmobile (531603) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821824)

Oh year? Well, my patent reads ...



"The server system sends to the client system the assigned client identifier and an HTML,XML,PDF, or ASCII document or other document format known to the art identifying the item and including an order button."

Guess someone owes me some big bucks.


My new patent. (3, Funny)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821837)

A method and system for getting a patent approved by which a patent submitter (client) spends millions of dollars paying off a company (lobbying firm) to present evidence, some in the form of a sardonic comic and/or controversial newspaper articles, in order to make a case for its highly regarded (retarded) patent. The client selects an appropriately vague paragraph to describe said patent, whereupon the patent office (monkeys flinging poo) receives the request and examines (flings poo at) biased information provided by the lobbying firm. The patent office generates a patent number and provides it to the client whereby some form of payment (bananas) are then provided by client to the patent office and/or politicians (con artists).

Re:My new patent. (1)

OohAhh (745216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822021)

You can't patent that! Even the USPTO would have to recognise there is far too much prior art.

Re: Wrong text, this is the right one... (1)

B2382F29 (742174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821859)

I copied the abstract, this is the summary

An embodiment of the present invention provides a method and system for ordering an item from a client system. The client system is provided with an identifier that identifies a customer. The client system displays information that identifies the item and displays an indication of an action (e.g., a single action such as clicking a mouse button) that a purchaser is to perform to order the identified item. In response to the indicated action being performed, the client system sends to a server system the provided identifier and a request to order the identified item. The server system uses the identifier to identify additional information needed to generate an order for the item and then generates the order.

The server system receives and stores the additional information for customers using various computer systems so that the server system can generate such orders. The server system stores the received additional information in association with an identifier of the customer and provides the identifier to the client system. When requested by the client system, the server system provides information describing the item to the requesting client system. When the server system receives a request from a client system, the server system combines the additional information stored in association with the identifier included in the request to effect the ordering of the item.

An embodiment of the present invention also provides a hierarchical technique for displaying information in a form. Also, an embodiment provides an editing mode in which the contents of a form are displayed and when selected an editing window is presented so that the contents of the field can be edited. After editing, a form is displayed with the edited contents of the field.

Re: Wrong text, this is the right one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822181)

Nice try Karma Whore!

Re: Wrong text, this is the right one... (1)

B2382F29 (742174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822729)

Nice troll anonymous coward!

/. makes my head explode (2, Informative)

TheHonestTruth (759975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822592)

The Abstract is useless! Copy the claims!!!! If one, just one slashbot took the time to read the claims they would realize this is a patent on order consolidation. New and non-obviousness may be debated, but at least discuss the right material. Jesus F'ing Christ!

1. A method in a computing system for processing item orders, comprising:

receiving a plurality of orders, each order having a destination and one or more items;

organizing the received orders into order groups, the orders of each order group all having the same destination;

for each order group:

determining an availability time for each item of each order of the order group indicating how far in the future the item will become available for shipment;

if all of the items of all of the orders of the order group have an availability time of zero, combining all of the orders of the order group into a single composite order for shipment;

if fewer than all of the items of all of the orders of the order group have an availability time of zero:

combining all of the items of all of the orders of the order group having an availability time of zero into a first composite order for shipment, and

combining all of the items of all of the orders of the order group having an nonzero availability time into a second composite order for shipment.

-truth

But... (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821812)

Honestly, how many people USE Amazon's 1-click ordering anyway?

I order online nearly every day of my life and I double and triple check things to make sure they charge the right card, go to the right address, that it's what I want etc. and for this I insist on being able to get to a screen where I can double-check EVERYTHING and only then do I submit it.

How many people are seriously logged into secure websites so often that it is just one click and they've ordered something?

Re:But... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821982)

Well, considering how well-accepted and popular Microsoft's Passport service became, I'd say not very many.

Re:But... (2, Informative)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822036)

Honestly, how many people USE Amazon's 1-click ordering anyway?

I do - in the iTunes Music Store, for which Apple have licensed the 1-click, er, "technology" from Amazon. For this specific use it's actually quite useful.

Re:But... (1)

LetterJ (3524) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822154)

I do. Constantly. I used Amazon a lot before I was willing to start using it, but now I use it all the time.

Patent arguments aside, it's set up pretty well. If you just *use* the 1 click stuff, the login persists. That means that while it can charge my card without further authorization, it can only do so if it's also sending the product to my registered mailing address. That means that it can be sent right back if ever something gets screwed up.

To change mailing addresses, they DO prompt for a login confirmation, even if the session was just started.

I've got 1 click profiles for my personal purchases, joint purchases for both my wife and I and for tax-deductible business expenses.

The concept of having this stuff saved isn't that foreign. How many members on Slashdot have their credit cards saved in a Paypal account? One quick authentication and money is moving all over the place.

Re:But... (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822375)

It was used on me once. I checked my amazon account (recommendations I think) at a cybercafe once, and two weeks later that machine one-click-ordered a dozen explicit lyric rap cds for me. (Would it hurt amazon to put a "sign out" button on their website?)

I had never enabled one-click ordering but Bezos had thoughtfully done that automatically. I immediately tried to cancel when amazon sent the confirming email but to no avail. So yeah, its just a mechanism for pissing you off.

Re:But... (1)

LetterJ (3524) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822568)

Well, there's your problem. I can't remember the last time I used a public computer. Between my laptop and Palm, wireless and cellphone dialup over bluetooth, I just never need to use a machine that I don't have control over.

I would also never actually log into a site using a cybercafe for just these kinds of reasons.

Incidentally, it's quite possible that Bezos/Amazon wasn't exactly the one to enable it. You did, after all, leave an open session to your Amazon profile on a public computer, right? It's not like someone couldn't have turned it on for you just before placing the order, or 2 someones, one turning it on and another a day later buying the CD.

Re:But... (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822757)

Err, there is a logout link on most pages:

(If you're not *****, click here.)

Or, clear cookies.

But really, there is nothing amazon.com (or any website) can do to protect your information on a public computer. How do you know there wasn't a keyboard logger installed? (At least in my experience, nearly every public terminal I have used, where I have bothered to check, has had at least two or three pieces of bot software on it)

Re:But... (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822384)

How many members on Slashdot have their credit cards saved in a Paypal account? One quick authentication and money is moving all over the place.


I don't even own a credit card, you insensitive clod!

Re:But... (1)

mbbac (568880) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822398)

Probably most people that buy something from the Itunes Music Store do it with one-click buying. You click on a buy it button and it downloads the song and starts playing. You're sent a statement later on. Apple licensed one-click from Amazon.

Weird application... (2, Informative)

bovinewasteproduct (514128) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821815)

From the claims, it covers just about ANY shopping cart that is intelligent enough to combine orders.
And the abstract/summary, and the claims do not seem to match up. The abstract/summary talk about one-click and the claims talk about an intelligent order combining system. The abstract is the same as the 1999 patent by Hartman.

There are plenty of backend systems that will combine orders. Does this only cover systems that do it all in the frontend?

BWP

It's a continuation (2, Informative)

balamw (552275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822621)

This patent is a continuation of an earlier patent application, and as such, the ONLY thing they can change in the specification (including the abstract/summary) is the reference material. If they did need to change the spec they would have a continuation in part. A CIP also allows one to add inventors. They also used this since according to Delphion this application is a CIP or two even earlier applications. A decent description of these "related applications" can be found here: http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/matters/matte rs-0406.html [tms.org]

The subject of claims must be described somewhere in the specification, including any material "incorporated by reference" but need not be explicit in the abstact.

Why is this useful? For example, what may have been considered to be a minor variation on the original idea and was described in the specification has become valuable. So new claims have been drafted to address that point.

The big advantage of a continuation is that the original early priority date is maintained, making it harder to invalidate with prior art. As others have mentioned, it is the inventors/attorney's duty to present to the PTO any possible prior art they know of, and the patent is stronger if all that material has already been considered by the PTO.

Balam

The patent-overview dissected (2, Informative)

phooka.de (302970) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821825)

From the patent:

"A method and system for placing an order to purchase an item via the Internet."

OK, it's about e-commerce.

"The order is placed by a purchaser at a client system and received by a server system."

Client-server. Could be the web.

"The server system receives purchaser information including identification of the purchaser, payment information, and shipment information from the client system."

You have to tell the web-shop who you are etc.

"The server system then assigns a client identifier to the client system and associates the assigned client identifier with the received purchaser information."

The server remembers who you are, e.g. IP-address or whatever.

"The server system sends to the client system the assigned client identifier[...]"

A cookie.

"[...]and an HTML document identifying the item and including an order button."

The browser receives a confirmation page. ("you wanted to order X?")

"The client system receives and stores the assigned client identifier and receives and displays the HTML document."

Cookie stored, HTML displayed.

"In response to the selection of the order button, the client system sends to the server system a request to purchase the identified item."

An HTML form.

"The server system receives the request and combines the purchaser information associated with the client identifier of the client system to generate an order to purchase the item in accordance with the billing and shipment information whereby the purchaser effects the ordering of the product by selection of the order button."

Once the server gets the OK, it proceeds as normal.

Now, where exactly was the innoivative part?

Re:The patent-overview dissected (3, Informative)

bovinewasteproduct (514128) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821840)

Ignore the abstract and the summary (they are either the same or very close to their 1999 patent).

The claims are what matters and they do NOT match up with the abstract/summary. The claims talk about a system that will combine orders shipping to the same addresses from same customer.

BWP

claims vs. abstract/summary (3, Insightful)

phooka.de (302970) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821878)

You say that the claims don't have much in common with the abstract/summary. Might be. But in my opinion, if the abstract/summary have nothing to do with the claims, the patent should be rejected on technical reasons.

Patents are there so that others learn from what you did, and only in return for this, you are being granted a temporary monopoly on it. If you try to hide your innovation from others, why should you be given the reward for sharing it?

And hiding it you are, if the abstract/summary don't match the claims.

Ah, if only Yoda were a patent examiner. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822006)

"And hiding it are you, if match not the claims and summary. Rejected for technical reasons is this, yes!"

In any event, this is what happens when you have overworked, poorly trained examiners with no real motivation to be thorough reviewing applications cooked up by dishonest companies. Chalk another one up to Congress.

Re:The patent-overview dissected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821957)

The claims talk about a system that will combine orders shipping to the same addresses from same customer.

Sounds pretty fucking obvious to me.

2 Click Shopping Beware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821828)

Wach out, I tried 2 click shopping and I was charged double.

Lawyers (1)

dramenbejs (817956) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821829)

Hey, this is all problem of people making aliance with lawyers (patent office). Lawyers have the power to sue people/companies for money. Lawyer will always want the money from a patent...

I remember a time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821847)

...when the only purpose Bezos served was to get a boost up to the next platform...or to throw at other enemies of course. Now we have to get lawsuits involved? Seesh.

Re:I remember a time... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822020)

Now that's not fair. Bezos serves a very valuable purpose.

He exhales carbon dioxide, which is needed by plants.

First we kill all the patent lawers (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821861)

1) click -> 2) cookie + order = 3) Profit

Re:First we kill all the patent lawers (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822038)

Nah ... put them all on stationary bicycles to generate enough power to run all the "1-Click" E-Commerce servers they got patented. At least we'd get something of value from them.

Not all attorneys are bad, it's just that some of them are so spectacularly bad that they ruin it for the rest of them. I've dealt with some very good patent attorneys in the past, and they were very careful to research the backgrounds of the submissions I made to make sure that they met the grounds for a legitimate patent. In other words, they were doing their jobs. But the attorneys are less of a problem than a drain-bamaged USPTO, and an even more drain-bamaged corporate America as exemplefied by the likes of Jeff Bezos and his patent mania.

amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822596)

You're a very good slashbot, 600k.

Wow... the scope is huge.. (5, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821869)

Method and system for displaying and editing of information

Is the TITLE and a couple of beautiful lines from the patent.

10. A method in a computing system for processing an item orders for shipment, comprising:

receiving a first order having a first item and a second item;

determining that the first item has an availability time similar to items in a second order, and that the second item has an availability time similar to items in a third order; and

in response to the determination, adding the first item to the second order and adding the second item to the third order.

11. A computing system for processing an item orders for shipment, comprising:

an order receiver that receives a first order having a first item and a second item;

an availability determination subsystem that determines that the first item has a time-to-inventory similar to items in a second order, and that the second item a time-to-inventory similar to items in a third order; and

an item reallocation subsystem that adds the first item to the second order and adds the second item to the third order in response to the determination by the availability determination subsystem.

12. A method in a computing system for combining item orders for shipment, comprising:

among a set of orders, each order having a destination and one or more items, identifying mutually-exclusive groups of orders such that the orders of each group all have the same destination;

for each group of orders whose items are all available for shipment:

combining the orders of the group, and

scheduling the combined orders of the group for shipment; and for each group of orders whose items are not all available for shipment:

combining the orders of the group, and

scheduling the combined orders of the group for shipment.


Now I'm as ever confused by this. What is this beyond an HTML screen on the sort of package computer system made by folks like Manugistics, SAP, Oracle et al? To me what Amazon have just patented is SAPs ordering and reconciliation processes.... which certainly pre-date Amazon by a mile.

US Patent Office.... its like Dilbert, but with more jokes.

Re:Wow... the scope is huge.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821993)

yep, isn't this just a specific type of order entry system, or even "data entry system?"

Heck, those have been around for decades...

Oh, wait, new idea for a patent! God, I'm brilliant! Amazon can have the 'one-click patent'...I want the 2 click, 3 click, multi-click patents! You heard it hear first. Brilliant new breakthrough which improves on Amazon's primitive, limited, one-click system.

This is due to a legal requirement (4, Informative)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821874)

The patent law requires any applicant to submit to the patent office all material information he/she has that may make the patent invalid. If that requirement is not complied with the patent may be invalidated even if it would have otherwise been valid.

So in order to be safe patent lawyers (especially those with rich clients) submit everything that they can get their hands on which could possibly affect the validity of the patent. And because this particular patent was so often criticized, the attorneys decided to be safe and submit all the criticisms, because one of them may possibly have material information about a piece of prior art.

So there is nothing especially nefarious about the fact that all these materials were submitted.

I am still amazed that the patent was granted though.

Re:This is due to a legal requirement (1)

Vraeden (696461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822531)

As if we needed further proof that the USPTO was sleeping on the job.
Someone just took their red stamp,
picked up a stack of patent applictions on their desk,
stamped each one while muttering about lawyers,
and then snuck out the back door to the nearby burlesque.

Sad state of IP and Patents (2, Insightful)

rwales (892310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821883)

The sad thing is that Amazon, and other companies who aggressively pursue patents like these, don't have to actually *enforce* them to walk away winners in this game. It seems to be all about creating a chilling effect on the competition, and on having seemingly-enforceable patents in your arsenal when confronted with a competitor so that you can use them as leverage against that company. It's not about the merits of the technology, it's about how many 'chits' you can collect just in case they turn out to be useful. But it's a generalized threat that can be used against anybody (even if non-threatening uses probably won't awaken a patent suit) and that completely mucks up the universe for the rest of us. "Freedom to innovate?" If we want that, we should start by reforming IP laws and the patent process to start encouraging desirable behaviors instead of I'll-get-mine-so-I-can-stop-you-from-getting-yours behaviors.

Obviousness (4, Interesting)

NoOneInParticular (221808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821901)

Just a thought I had the other day for patent reform and to get rid of the horrors of 'one click shopping' patents. For every patent, there needs to be a clear statement of the problem that is solved. Although in invention one of the hardest parts is to identify the problem, the problem (i.e., problem area) is in itself not patentable. At least not officially.

Then, the examiner invites 5 people skilled in the art that are unaffiliated to the patent seeker. They are confronted with the problem description and come up with a solution to tackle that particular problem. If some of the five come up with something substantially similar to the invention that the patent is sought for, the patent doesn't get granted due to obviousness. Even if the engineers don't come up with the actual answer but with alternative solutions there will be a win, as a legal circumvention of the patent will be on record.

Such a system would have killed Bezos' original patent right of. Problem: "I want to be able to allow my customers to buy things with a single click". The patented solution would have been proposed by 5 out of 5 people skilled in the art. Similar questions as "I want to be able to stream live video to a computer", "I want to show a picture of the product I'm selling " will be shot down.

One of the big dangers of software patents currently is locking out entire problem domains, by patenting the questions, not the answers. If the question contains the answer, it should not be patentable.

Note that with this scheme the question "How does one exercise a cat" would most likely allow for this patent [freepatentsonline.com] .

Re:Obviousness (1)

Masker (25119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822009)

Actually, patents are supposed to be non-obvious solutions to problems (definition from this patent lawyer's IP FAQ [ipjur.com] ):

A patent is an exclusive right granted for a technical invention which, as required in most countries, offers a novel and non-obvious technical solution to a problem.

So, at the company I work for, the patent commitee will accept submissions for most anything, but will filter out the crap that they know is not unique or interesting. And, patent reviewers at the USPTO are supposed to make sure that things are "non-obvious", but I guess that rarely happens.

Re:Obviousness (2, Informative)

Changer2002 (577488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822355)

The USPTO are supposed to make sure that things are "non-obvious" in light of prior art. The prior art is the problem. When Amazon first tried to patent the 1-click shopping method the patent office had an open interference meeting (basically asking anyone interest to show some prior art that would invalidate it) no one could. It doesn't matter if it seems obvious in hindsight, as long as it's not obvious based on prior art, it's ok.

Re:Obviousness (2, Insightful)

torokun (148213) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822264)


Unfortunately, that would not work, because as in the case of the one-click patent, sometimes the problem is the invention.

In other words, what if no one else ever even thought there was a need to buy things with one click? Bezos or someone at Amazon thought about it and realized that this could be an advantage to them or to their customers, even though it's actually counterintuitive -- most people want confirmation screens, and most sites assume they want them.

So just because the solution to a problem may be obvious, it does not mean that the invention as a whole is obvious...

Re:Obviousness (2, Insightful)

NoOneInParticular (221808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822607)

What I try to argue for is that the solution *is* the invention, while the question isn't. I know that asking the right question is often very creative, but it doesn't logically follow that questions should therefore be patentable.

The fact that Bezos came up with an interesting question does not automatically make that question patentable. As far as I know this is the law, you get patents for solutions, copyrights for works and trademarks for names used in trade. No protection for questions.

Imagine a world where questions were patentable. This would wreak havoc if you start protecting questions like this:

I need a list in descending order (patenting all possible sorting algorithms)

I need a way to stream video over the internet (patenting all possible ways of streaming video. Note that this one already happened)

I need a way to group items my customer bought together.

I need to show a picture of the product (patented)

I need a way to compress data (patenting *all* compression algorithms for 20 years. Didn't happen, but could have if such patents are allowed)

etc.

You seem to be arguing that a problem can be an invention, and should be patentable. I think that's about the most dangerous thing that can happen as this would shut down entire fields for 20 years, all with asking a single question.

Non-Obviousness isn't good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822515)

Anyone who's read "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell:
http://www.resort.com/~prime8/Orwell/patee.html [resort.com]

or listened to all the military and political euphemism knows that non-obviousness is not enough.

There's a whole industry that engages in telling the truth in such a way that you don't have a clue what they're talking about. The patent office doesn't stand a chance.

A criteria for patenting should be that it should be explained so that a 5 year old can understand it. If it's that clear and it still makes people in various industries say "wow", then maybe it should be patented. Note the "various industries" is also important. There are some really cool things in one industry that are standard practice but don't exist in other industries. It's only a matter of time before someone else would have moved the idea over, so why restrict others by patenting it.

do NOT tell companies about prior art (5, Insightful)

rensci (889434) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821919)

ironically, much of this material was collected and edited by BountyQuest, which reportedly received $1+ million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the name of patent reform

You have to ask yourself: why do you tell a company about prior art, and why do they ask about it?

Presumably, the primary goal you have telling a company about prior art is to convince them not to file the patent, or at least make them look bad among the tech savvy. But companies don't give a damn about that sort of thing, so don't waste your breath.

On the other hand, companies have a strong interest in hearing about prior art before filing the patent because when they include your prior art reference into their patent application, the patent becomes stronger. Rather than causing them to rethink their application, your reports of prior art to them are valuable background reseach that save companies lots of money in legal fees.

So, just about the worst thing you can do is to tell a company about prior art for a patent application, because doing so will make the patent even harder to fight.

What's a better strategy? Make sure as many people as possible know about the prior art, but only well after the patent has issued. Never contact the company filing the patent directly with prior art, even after it has issued--they have their lawyers, they should pay for their own prior art searches. And generally, it is probably also a good idea to wait with prior art discussions in public forums (like Slashdot) until after the patent has issued.

As for Bezos and Bounty Quest, it is sleazy at best for Bezos to use Bounty Quest as a repository for prior art for his own patent filings even if he decided to do so after the fact. If Bounty Quest was set up with such uses in mind, it is deceptive and may be fraudulent. In any case, it seems to be just another example of big companies deceiving and abusing people who are interested in doing volunteer work for the common good.

Did the patent office outlaw themselves? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821920)

I see there is a 'Add to cart' link at the top of the page describing the patent. I wonder whether the patent office paid royalties to Amazon to be able to offer on-line shopping? :-)

Nico

They patented logistics (1)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821924)

The abstract is a little misleading, the patent covers logistics of delivering the orders based on whats in stock etc..

Basically you and I thought that online ordering logistics was a field in itself, with many many companies specialising in it (both doing it and advising on it), and countless books on the subject, but no, apparently it was all in our minds and the subject was invented by Amazon in 2003.

Strange since this search:

http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=logistics+site%3A amazon.com&prssweb=Search&ei=UTF-8&fr=sfp&fl=0&x=w rt [yahoo.com]

Shows lots of books on Amazon.com on the subject.

United States Patent 6,907,316 (5, Funny)

williamhooligan (892067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12821925)

United States Patent 6,907,316:

Abstract

Method and system for purchasing goods or services in the physical world. After construction of suitable 'premises' (Pat. 6,907,317 - a space altered by arranging materials for the purpose of creating a distinction between 'outside' and 'inside') a person enters the premises via the 'door' (Pat. 6,907,318 - a hole made in the materials of Pat. 6,907,317 to facilitate access to the 'inside' space) and is greeted by an 'employee' (Pat. 6,907,319 - a poor loser unable to to engage in any entrepreneurial activities due to the lack of unpatented processes left in the world and therefore forced to work for an evil overlord quicker off the mark to exploit the idiocy of the patent system). The customer selects goods or services for purchase, pays the 'employee' and exits through the 'door'. The funds are then used by the evil overlords to continue to pay high-priced lawyers in their ongoing effort to patent the 'patent process' (Pat. 6,907,320 - Pending).

A silly patent deserves a silly work-around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821944)

If this patent REALLY revolves around a single-click system, all anyone has to do to bypass is it to implement a "no click" or "more than one click" system.

Say, mouse-over confirmation.

Or clicking once to order ("Click here to place order") and a second time to REALLY order ("We were just kidding with ya there; are you REALLY sure you want to order this?").

Click click.

BountyQuest was a scam (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821963)

I said at the time that the only purpose of BountyQuest was to distract people from the real issue.

By getting everyone focussed on prior art, it caused people to skip over the real question, which was whether Amazon's "one-click" was a legitimate patent in the first place.

The "one-click" patent should not be rejected on the basis of prior art.

It should be rejected because it is _obvious_, i.e., not a patentable idea in the first place.

Balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12821967)

Has anyone patented the patent process? ;-) We need to bring balance to intellectual property policies through the legislative process, but everyone must be involved for it to happen, which is probably a pipe dream at this point. http://www.ipaction.org/ [ipaction.org]

since when was this a prior-art thing? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822017)

This was never a "pfft, I've done that before", it's always been a "pfft, that's fucking obvious. Just because you're the first person who wanted to make a website without a "yes, I'm sure" button, doesnt make your idea creative or original"

Re:since when was this a prior-art thing? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822030)

And to take this a step further, the "obvious, but nobody else wanted to" of this patent would make it more like patenting a business model- which I'm pretty sure isnt patentable (do correct me if I'm wrong, I very well might be)

PAIR - understand how a patent got granted (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822025)

The USPTO has a system for letting the public view the file wrapper of a case (all the letters that went backwards and forwards):

http://portal.uspto.gov/ [uspto.gov]

Select Patent Number form the drop down box and enter 6907315 press submit and you are presented with the basic information on the case. To see the letters just pick the "Image file wrapper" tab. You'll need Acrobat to view the scanned in documents. Useful ones to read include: "applicant arguments and remarks", "non-final rejection" and "amendment".

Enjoy!

O the irony.... (1)

Chucky B. Bear (785810) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822042)

hehe, open the US Patent office link, click the "Add to cart" button. See now the patent office has also violated the patent they've just granted to Amazon.

Now if only Amazon would sue the patent office out of existence it would all have been worth it.

Re:O the irony.... (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822385)

The US Gov't makes its own rules.

Yet another reason (1)

starX (306011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822087)

To not shop at Amazon. I haven't bought a thing from them since one-click, and just when I'm starting to think that maybe the time has come to move on, they do something like this. I am sufficiently repulsed by this that the thought of purchasing from Amazon again makes me queasie, my ethical stance is justified, and so I shop elsewhere. Thanks for clarifying, Jeff!

the answer is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822186)


don't do buisness in/with USA
it really is that simple

Only way to get rid of these patents nosense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12822394)

... is to petition one of the government agency for a writ of mandamus. Check it out.

This is why I have not stopped boycotting them. (1)

oconnorcjo (242077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822407)

There was a time when many on slashdot boycotted them and suggested other online book retailers. Then people said that boycott was complete/successful and that people could use amazon again. But the fact of the matter is that they sued Barnes and Nobles over the one click patent and they have not stopped thier patent lawyers from patenting the normal development of e-comerce.

Sessions. (2, Interesting)

eluusive (642298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822654)

While I only read the abstract, this seemed to me to be a patent that does nothing but use cookie sessions in a "new" way. (I know other people already do this with cookies.) I could be wrong, but I thought that patents had to be a new invetion, or be a combination of multiple patentented invetions?

This patent could be likened to patenting the use of a car to transport jellybeans instead of people.

Links (1)

jozzi (892339) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822676)

Incomplete patent. They should have ... (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 9 years ago | (#12822756)

included "claims" that covered:
* employees in the warehouse walking to the bin that contains the object,
* placing the object on the conveyer belt,
* passing it by an RFID detector,
* software that uses the RFID signal to add the object to the shipping invoice and,
* prints the invoice and,
* pastes it onto the box and,
* seals the box and,
* conveys it out to the trailer for shipping, and
* the employee stacking in the trailer.

After all, in your attempts to unlevel the playing field and block all competition, if you are going to patent trivial business processes that ALL businesses have been using since the web browser first appeared more than 10 years ago, why go just half way? Add a claim of customers walking to their mail box to pick up your delivered goods, forcing customers of competitive Internet businesses to crawl or run to their mailboxes, or risk legal prosecution for theft of Bozo's "IP". The USTPO doesn't care.
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