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Amazon Goes Web 2.0 Wild to Defend 1-Click Patent

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-really-it's-cool-when-we-do-it dept.

Patents 77

theodp writes "Six years ago, Jeff Bezos and Tim O'Reilly urged the masses to give-patent-reform-a-chance as Richard Stallman called for an Amazon boycott. On Monday, the pair will reunite to kick off O'Reilly's new Amazon-sponsored Web 2.0 Expo with A Conversation with Jeff Bezos. Be interesting if the conversation turned to Amazon's ongoing battle against an actor's effort to topple Bezos' 1-Click patent, which The Register notes included dumping 58 lbs. of paperwork on the patent examiner, including dozens of articles from the oh-so-Web-2.0 Wikipedia, which the USPTO had already deemed an un acceptable source of information ('From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,' quipped patent expert Greg Aharonian)."

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Caution on /.'s part (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18750303)

I got "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

I guess /. is disabling their one-click "Read More" links.

Re:Caution on /.'s part (1)

hedora (864583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18759555)

I found the link to the article on the second try! (Still no story though...) What do I win?

Maybe I should patent "one link" slashdot submissions... ;)

A quote for the ages (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750339)

'From a legal^W any point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,'

Re:A quote for the ages (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750409)

It is indeed.

There's disagreeable things in this article - Amazon's ludicrous patent, the whole concept of Web 2.0, and The Register in general. So, it's nice to come away with something that's patently ('scuse the pun) obviously true. Wiki citations are most surely toilet paper, and not just from a legal POV.

Re:A quote for the ages (5, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750487)

Actually, in debate, I am often very pleased when my opponent relies heavily on wikipedia, it's like shooting fish in the frozen food section.

Re:A quote for the ages (3, Funny)

Thexare Blademoon (1010891) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750903)

So that's where all those holes in the bags of french fries came from!

Re:A quote for the ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751695)

in debate, I am often very pleased when my opponent relies heavily on wikipedia

So you actually wait there at the podium, tapping your foot, while he takes a leisurely Wikipedia break?

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18760315)

And yet the moderators love it as though they've recently overcome an allergy to low-grade seafood.

Re:A quote for the ages (2, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750559)

Well, I don't know about that. The default view in a wikipedia is certainly an uncertain proposition, but why should we trust wikipedia less than any other site? Yes, it's editable, but it also has revision control. As long as we generally trust website citations, wikipedia provides for demonstrating WHEN an article said something and for how long. I doubt writing about an idea counts as prior art though, so I'm not sure what the gain is.

I'm sure lawyers can pick up on this. Whether judges can accurately measure what they're looking at is another matter and one that probably means it shouldn't be allowed any more than any other site.

Wikipedia vs. other sites (3, Interesting)

Hrothgar The Great (36761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751157)

I don't think it's a good assumption that website citations are generally to be trusted for academic purposes. Wikipedia has requirements that citations from more trusted sources are included in articles - the lawyers in this case really should have known enough to go to those original sources and cite from there instead. You would think they would teach this sort of stuff in law school.

If the articles in question DIDN'T contain citations from other sources, then how could any of the information be trusted at all, given that it was written by one or many basically anonymous users?

Personally, I find Wikipedia to be really useful, but the problem with it from an academic standpoint is that any conclusions arrived at in its articles without citation tend to arise out of the consensus of the user community, and there is really no reason to trust information simply because the majority agrees it is the truth, especially in matters like this one.

Re:Wikipedia vs. other sites (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18754989)

I agree for a recount of the facts that Wikipedia would not be a reliabe source, but for the publishing of prior art it seems to me that it should be more than acceptable. If someone post an idea in an article, and they can verify when the article was modified to include that idea, it should establish that no patent can be filled on that idea after the date it was posted i.e. published. I don't care if there are no refrences, it is no longer an original idea.

Re:A quote for the ages (2, Insightful)

user24 (854467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751309)

sure, if you dig through the entire history of the article to make sure that the bit you're citing/using/reading has survived the almost non-existent "peer review process", then you can be sure of.. what? that it isn't vandalism? no - it could have just slipped through the net (and when you're looking for something like a date, who's going to know if the battle of actium gets changed from 31 to 32 BC?).

The difference between wikipedia and normal websites is that normal websites aren't editable by just anyone. So, if the general quality of a webpage is high, then you can reasonably assume that the quality of any given citation is likely to be high. But that just isn't the case with wikipedia; just because article one (or even paragraph one) is well written and researched, that doesn't even go a little way to showing that article/paragraph two is going to be.

Re:A quote for the ages (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751569)

The difference for citation for your PhD dissertation and citation for patent-busting is that for patent-busting, the only bar is that the patent was thought up by "just anyone", prior to the date of application, which Wikipedia conveniently tracks. It doesn't matter that some guy claiming to hold 8 PhDs but who turns out to be 12 years old and spends his free time trolling Talk pages about how he personally witnessed the signing of the Constitution, if some kid thought up your invention before you did, you fail it.

Re:A quote for the ages (3, Insightful)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751759)

Surely the main position on Wiki and patents is disclosure. If the idea has been disclosed publicly prior to one year (? - INAL) then it can't be patented. So if some one has placed it in a public Wiki it surely must be considered publicly disclosed? The follow up may be a law suit against who ever made it public (not necessarily in the Wiki) if a breach of confidentiality was involved.

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

Standmic (769361) | more than 7 years ago | (#18753083)

There is a NYTimes article about the use of Wikipedia in the courts [nytimes.com] (It's a couple months old so it may be inaccessible to non-subscribers). From the article:

More than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court.
But, some of the examples the article gave have the court citing Wikipedia for the definition of "jungle juice" in one instance, and "booty music" in another, for which I feel Wikipedia is an appropriate source.

Everyone complains about Wikipedia's inaccuracy, but for information on...less academic and more cultural topics (Lists of Simpson's Episodes, or jungle juice, for example), Wikipedia is probably the best source you can find.

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751767)

but why should we trust wikipedia less than any other site?

For verifying the history of things that are worth money? Do you *really* need someone to answer this for you?

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18792309)

Yes. I'd like you to explain to me why wikipedia is less authoritative than geocities. Good luck.

That's a BIG "if" (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752943)

As long as we generally trust website citations...
Who exactly would do that?

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750579)

You'll note that I didn't say you couldn't learn anything from Wikipedia, but citing it (except on /.) is valueless.

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752685)

as are citations from any encyclopedia. as a musician, i often find it amusing, when someone starts quoting grove or mgg at me, they are at times useful to get an overview, but because they are only compiled by a few people, there are often very obvious biases in the articles. wikipedia is better than these.

there are a number of areas where wikipedia is the best secondary source of all. i doubt there are encyclopedias of computer technology or comic heroes which come anywhere near wikipedia's level. does one quote from them? stupid question, it's an encyclopedia, if you quote from it, you are quoting someone and you should give that person's name. it is always best to quote primary sources. if i'm writing an article about mozart's correspondence, i go dig out the letters, i don't quote the grove on it.

it is also a question about the importance of the venue. if i'm trying to get an overall picture of the history of kraplakistan and i have 5 minutes to do so, then there is no source better than wikipedia. if i am going to court, i don't just grab stuff off the net (or out of any encyclopedia).

Ad hominem, ad verecundiam and generalizations (1)

slocan (769303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752797)

Disclaimer: I can understand which reasons may justifiy a text contained in a wiki not being considered useful or acceptable from a legal (positivist) point of view. [Although I try to disagree with such a point of view. And it is hard, for we live in a quite positivist world...]

Nevertheless...

[...] Wiki citations are most surely toilet paper, and not just from a legal POV.

Why are they toilet paper? Because they come from a wiki? Or because their author and his credentials cannot be identified?

Arguing that all texts contained in wikis toilet paper is sort of an ad hominem fallacy:

  1. The author of texts on wikis cannot be identified.
  2. Texts whose author cannot be identified are toilet paper.
  3. [Therefore] Texts on wikis are toilet paper.

The thing is that we aren't able of immediately ascertaining the quality or truth of practically all texts we read because of our own ignorance.

A text in a wiki sure can be toilet paper. But only if toilet paper it is. I.e. irrespective of which support contains the text and irrespective of who it's author is and which are his credentials.

Accepting texts or discarding them based solely on the identity and credentials of the author is logically fallacious (ad verecundiam or ad hominem), because truth is a matter which we can accept or not as a choice either based on faith, incredulity or critical thinking.

But the point here isn't a matter of faith or critical thinking, because it is a matter of lack of identity or credentials.

Therefore, what about the text itself? What do the credentials of the author tell about the text? Appealing to the credentials reveals a lack of ability (or time, or willingness etc) of ascertaining the quality of hte text itself. And that may be all right depending on the case. But a generalisation in such matters can be greatly misleading being a fallacy in itself:

  1. This text is false.
  2. The author of this text and his credentials cannot be identified.
  3. [Therefore] Texts whose author and his credentials cannot be identified are (or ought to be considered) false.

I think citations should exist so that we can reference other's works, so we do not have to redo it, so we do not have to reproduce it in it's entirety, so we can attribute proper authorship, so arguments can be traced to the reasoning which lead to such assertions etc. Not as a means to discourage critical thinking or induce uncritical acceptance.

<Digression on> As a Masters student, I think citations are used to much as a way to rebuke or discourage criticism. Texts with insufficient citations are regarded as being of low quality, irrespective of their content. While texts filled with citations are regarded at least as well made texts. Sometimes it seems to me as fear of independent thought and possible criticism, which is solved by appealing to authority, and happens to mute creativity... and turns much of academic work in to bureaucratic mimetism, as a means to gaining entrance in the academic world and gain the necessary credentials to stay in. </Digression>

Cheers,

Re:Ad hominem, ad verecundiam and generalizations (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18753025)

> Arguing that all texts contained in wikis toilet paper is sort of an ad hominem fallacy:

No it is fucking not. Jesus, learn what a term means before you try to look smart by using it.

Re:Ad hominem, ad verecundiam and generalizations (1)

slocan (769303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18753217)

Why not?

Re:Ad hominem, ad verecundiam and generalizations (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18775429)

I think he was being ironic.

Re:Ad hominem, ad verecundiam and generalizations (1)

slocan (769303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18778005)

Oh... :-)

Re:A quote for the ages (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18750561)

On the other hand, if the technology you are trying to patent is already described on wikipedia, it is quite disingenious to claim that you are deserving of a 20-year monopoly. The whole premise of patents is that without the monopoly, the invention would not be publicized. Wikipedia is much more widely read than some niche publication like Journal of Interdisciplinary Tribology, which would count as a publication of prior art in the context of patent law.

Re:A quote for the ages (5, Insightful)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750567)

Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.

But there is no black or white here. Wikipedia is not apropriate for serious use, where it's important to be correct. But it's a massive quick and dirty database. If I want to know what X is and I've never heard of it, I can go to wikipedia and get an overview. If the authors did their due dilligence, I can find a decent collection of links off site that will tell me a bit abotu the subject matter.

Wikipedia can be a useful tool. Just not for most important applications.

Let's use a programming analogy. The "right" way to deploy a new application cross platform would be to code it in C or Java, or some other language apropriate to the task, and fine tune each version for each platform, and hunt for bugs on each platform. Annother, quick, relativly painless way, if it were an unimportant, trivial task, would be to just put together a web based Java applett, or perhaps even a flash object if it's simple enough. Hell, millions do this with YouTube, every day because it's "good enough". Even though an MPEG, MOV, AVI, or other video file played in a stand alone player would be "better".

Re:A quote for the ages (5, Funny)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750639)

Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.

Dude, I have no intention of goosling you. The only person I goosle is my wife.

Re:A quote for the ages (1, Troll)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752535)

Anyone who reviews my post history or goosles me, and digs a little will find that I'm not exactly a proponent of wikipedia.
Dude, I have no intention of goosling you. The only person I goosle is my wife.
Well by goosling your wife, you can only learn a little bit about her, depending on how well her prior contributors did their homework. If you really want to know more about your wife, you should go read some of the websites dedicated to her.

Re:A quote for the ages (2, Funny)

boredguru (870469) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751361)

'From a legal^W any point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,'
So it it worth more than a SCO stock?

Re:A quote for the ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751711)

>there is really no reason to trust information simply because the majority agrees it is the truth.

You mean like on GrokDot?

Re:A quote for the ages (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751605)

a Wiki citation is toilet paper

Maybe so, but it's dated toilet paper, and if you claim to have invented something that I can find on Wikipedia dated years before you patented it, that should be admissible as prior art against your claim.

What (5, Funny)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750375)

What is toilet paper?

Re:What (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750413)

Sometimes you might use it to wipe off your monitor. You know when you're out of paper towels.

Re:What (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18750419)

It's paper used to wipe the shit off your arse after depositing the bulk of it in a toilet. It tends to come in rolls, often perforated into small sheets.

Re:What (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18750453)

haha

Anonymous Coward doesn't know about the three sea shells!

Re:What (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751039)

Re:What (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751701)

I saw that one coming a mile away. The question was just begging for such an answer.

Re:What (1)

StealthEMD (916613) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752375)

I am guessing you use the "Three Sea Shells"? <URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demolition_Man_% 28film%29>

From a legal point of view (5, Funny)

mixnblend (1002943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750405)

From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper
does that make the one click patent the excrement in this little analogy then?

Re:From a legal point of view (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751439)

No, the entire concept of software patents is the legal feces in this context.
If the white-collar crime were any sweeter, 'twould be government itself!

Re:From a legal point of view (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752807)

[From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper] does that make the one click patent the excrement in this little analogy then?

I've patented One Swipe wiping(TM). Cameras are being installed in stalls to verify royalty payments.
         

I don't quite get it... (4, Insightful)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750457)

The headline directly says that Amazon plans to use the Web 2.0 Expo to defend the one-click patent.
The summary speculates that Bezos might get called out over the one-click patent.
The article says... wait... this isn't summarizing any article.

So what's happened? Nothing new. What's going to happen? Very possibly nothing new.

Re:I don't quite get it... (3, Funny)

MrBugSentry (963105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750575)

A writeup that is totally inaccurate and furthers an agenda unrelated to the original article? On Slashdot??

Re:I don't quite get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751909)

Give the subby a break, he has an @aol.com address you know...

RTFM, John Doll (5, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750501)

"The problem with Wikipedia is that it's constantly changing,"

Just click on "Permanent link" and you will have a version that won't change. Or click on Cite this article.

Re:RTFM, John Doll (1)

zigziggityzoo (915650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751103)

Truth be told, any website can change at any time. However, there is an MLA and APA format to cite a website, which includes date accessed in case it does change.

I think someone thought of this before wikipedia came along.

Re:RTFM, John Doll (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18760381)

Hence the PERMANENT link. Unless Wikipedia shuts down entirely, that link will always point to the content of the page at the time it was retrieved. On the other hand, why you'd want to cite Wikipedia content (except to mock a particularly juicy block of prose) is beyond me.

MLA and APA citations are worthless (even with the date) if you have no way of accessing the content as it was originally displayed. Who cares that you claim you accessed it on December 6th if it's now April and the site doesn't keep its history like Wikipedia does? You have no way of knowing what the December 6th content was or whether the author used it properly.

Huh? (2)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750513)

The news news is that Jeff Bezos is giving a speech at an O'Reilly-sponsored conference about something having nothing to do with patents, and everything else in the blurb, from the title on down, is randomly thrown in by the submitter, correct?

Re:Huh? (1)

cubic6 (650758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751197)

The news news is that Jeff Bezos is giving a speech at an O'Reilly-sponsored conference about something having nothing to do with patents, and everything else in the blurb, from the title on down, is randomly thrown in by the submitter, correct?
Correct, the submitter's just using his soapbox to reiterate a previous story about the patent.

What was the result.. (2, Informative)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750523)

of the lawsuit? I thought the One-click was a good example of silly patents. Having it overturned is important now just so other people can "use similiar concepts" but in software in general. If to many of these silly patents get pushed through it will be impossible for any non-big-firm programmer to develop anything, else they'll be infringing on the "while() {}" patent.

Re:What was the result.. (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#18753085)

Imagine if one firm had the if-then statement and another had the loop statements :)

When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (5, Insightful)

ThurlMakes7 (937619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750539)

O'Reilly's behavior is truly despicable. Here's a guy who got rich promoting open source and intellectual property freedom. But as soon as he gets the chance to cuddle up to the IP holders, he sells out his principles.

From the FTA:

Millionaire tech publisher Tim O'Reilly once vowed to torpedo Amazon.com's 1-Click patent. Against a backdrop of widespread outrage over Amazon's aggressive use of the patent, O'Reilly created a contest to find prior art to undermine the IP claim, and thus invalidate the patent. However, O'Reilly quietly dropped the campaign; saying he would never disclose it because he trusted Amazon.com CEO Bezos not to use it.

Following that cockle-warming tribute to his integrity, Bezos became a regular star turn at O'Reilly's web evangelism conferences. These days, O'Reilly's VC fund AlphaTech Ventures is supported by Bezos, and represented by the same firm of attorneys, Fenwick & West, which is defending Amazon.com against Peter Calveley.

Never accuse these dot.com moguls of permitting ethics to stand in the way of getting rich.

O'Reilly has the money and the influence to help strike out this dumb patent, but he chooses not to do so. It would be a nice irony if the USPTO threw it out because Tim's chum Jeff used Wikipedia. I'd laugh my fricking ass off.

Re:When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750659)

Sometimes people have to pick their battles. Where would O'reilly be without a ubiquitous online retailer?

Re:When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18753459)

O'Reilly has the money and the influence to help strike out this dumb patent...

I won't defend the patent (it's the reason I do not do business with Amazon.com), but I do think you severely underestimate the amount of money and influence it would take to challenge that patent.

Re:When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18758121)

Yeah. Best not try, eh?

After all, there's money to be made in this Web 2.0 bubble. There's money to be made not rocking the boat.

Everyone - look at the rounded rectangles! Look at the cute pastel colors!

Re:When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18761603)

Best not try, eh?

I spent much of my younger years fighting every perceived wrong I could find. I won a few battles. I lost most of them. Most importantly, I learned a few things.

Not every battle matters. I'm not the right person to fight every battle. Sometimes you can win one battle and lose more important ones. Sometimes fighting isn't the right thing to do.

Like I said, I'm not going to defend that patent, and I oppose the practices of software patents in the US, but I believe it's, at best, a mistake to condemn someone for not fighting every single battle you think might be important--especially if you're both fighting for the same principles overall.

Re:When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18767739)

But Peter Calveley has no money or influence, and he's fighting the 1-Click patents single handedly from PayPal donations. He has a good chance of winning, too.

So Tim O'Reilly, who promised to help, really could make a difference. He's chosen his side in this dispute: the wrong one.
 

Re:When did Tim O'Reilly become such a scumbag? (1)

dcam (615646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18763145)

Don't forget Tim is also one of the creators of the phrase Web 2.0 (as well as being one of its strongest supporters). That makes him an idiot too.

From a legal point of view (4, Insightful)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750611)

A wiki page is great if it is timestamped. A wiki page is a publication and can be used to establish prior art.

The "patent expert" might as well have said The journal of machine intelligence and pattern recognition is toilet paper because the pages change from issue to issue.

If archive.org could take an examiner, or anyone else, to a wiki version dated before the filing date of a patent, then I think it can be used to establish prior art.

Even if the USPTO says it won't accept the wiki, a court could over rule them.

Beautiful symmetry in patent law vs. Wiki (5, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750833)

From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper,' quipped patent expert Greg Aharonian.

And from any sane person's point of view, 99% of comments from patent experts are toilet paper, which is why we're in such a mess today.

So, it's beautifully symmetric. Patent lawyers and Wikipedia were made for each other. :-)

Although in Wikipedia's defence, it gets it right ***far*** more often. :-)

In any case, Wikipedia can always be corrected, and very easily, that's the power of it. Whereas the only way of correcting a patent lawyer is with a lobotomy.

Re:Beautiful symmetry in patent law vs. Wiki (2)

ferd_farkle (208662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751147)

oh...I thought that was how you created a patent lawyer...

Re:Beautiful symmetry in patent law vs. Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751363)

Along with vasectomy/tubectomy!

Greg Aharonian should be your friend (2)

kansas1051 (720008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751825)

Greg Aharonian is actually not a lawyer but a searcher that specializes in busting patents and exposing corruption and incompetence at the U.S. Patent Office. So, he is exactly the type of person /. should like. Greg's site is www.bustpatents.com.

Re:Greg Aharonian should be your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18752169)

Greg Aharonian is actually not a lawyer but a searcher that specializes in busting patents and exposing corruption and incompetence at the U.S. Patent Office. So, he is exactly the type of person /. should like. Greg's site is www.bustpatents.com.

It's unfortunate then that he made the comment that he did about WP.

I know what he *meant* --- that Wikipedia content has no standing in law at this point in time, so it's worthless in a legal sense. But the way it came across was entirely different --- that community input has no value in the patent process.

He should take more care with his words. Even with the unavoidable human errors and the occasional malicious skewing in WP, the patent system would do well to *aspire* to the level of reliability of Wikipedia.

Re:Beautiful symmetry in patent law vs. Wiki (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752967)

Well, ok, now are you saying that something written on a public wiki should be accepted as legal evidence?

Or are you just making fun of him? Because if it is the latter, go on.

Re:Beautiful symmetry in patent law vs. Wiki (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18765057)

Sometimes -- sure.

For example, if you claimed to have copyrigth on a certain text, but the same text could demonstrably be found on Wikipedia at a point *before* you claimed to have written it, thats pretty clear evidence that you're lying.

One shouldn't, offcourse, on the other hand assume something to be true just because Wikipedia says so. But this is true for any other source too, and something courts deal with all the time.

Commodore killed by patents? (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751573)

I was just reading the book "On the Edge", which is about Commodore's rise and fall. The silly "Xor cursor" patent lawsuit may be what finished them off. Commodore survived a slump in 1986 and may have also survived its 1993 slump if not for the Xor patent suit. Although the issues were complicated, the Xor lawsuit may have been what put it over the edge. If Commodore survived a few years longer to about 1996, then the shere money wave of the web boom may have kept them alive to try again with more products and an updated Amiga that was on the drawing boards.

Re:Commodore killed by patents? (1)

texaport (600120) | more than 7 years ago | (#18772083)

1980 -- When you couldn't win in the marketplace, you tried to win in the courts.
1990 -- Put out a cheaper version of what your competition has (even if stupid).
2000 -- $1000 spent on advertising and marketing is better than $1000 spent on R&D.
2006 -- Take it to the court system. $10,000 for lawyers is the best business ROI.

Proud Amazon Boycotter. (2)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752445)

I am happy to say I have never once bought a single thing from Amazon.com. Their patent bullshittery is the reason. Fine, eBay/Half.com isn't necessarily run by angels, but they aren't going ape-shit on patents either. I do reference Amazon quite a bit, if I could find a better place that has tech specs and info on nearly any product I would use it, but epinions doesn't quite reach that level, at least I don't send them money.

The One-Click Patent in Not a Bad Patent (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18752743)

The Amazon one-click patent is not a bad patent for the the following reasons:

1. It was filed in 1997, and its subject matter may have been invented even a while before then. When you look at whether at patent is obvious or not, you have to look at it at the time of invention. Of course it's obvious, after it's been used for a decade. Do you remember what the Internet was like in 1997? Was it obvious in 1997? Probably not.

2. It does not claim every single kind of e-commerce involving single-clicking. Here's what it actually claims:

"under control of a client system,

displaying information identifying the item; and
in response to only a single action being performed, sending a request to order the item along with an identifier of a purchaser of the item to a server system;

under control of a single-action ordering component of the server system,
receiving the request;
retrieving additional information previously stored for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request; and

generating an order to purchase the requested item for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request using the retrieved additional information; and
fulfilling the generated order to complete purchase of the item
whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model."

It is *not* a patent on "Anytime somebody clicks the mouse in e-commerce." It actually is a pretty specific invention. Other methods of e-commerce would have to do *all* of those steps do be infringing. If they left any one of them out, or if there were any other material differences than what's claimed, they'd not be infringing. For example, the sentence "whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model" means that any other one-click system that use a shopping cart model is NOT infringing.

Re:The One-Click Patent IS a Bad Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18759621)

Do you even understand what all that legalese means? Let me break it to you step-by-step:

under control of a client system,
In a browser or vendor-specific client software, which every ecommerce site is.

displaying information identifying the item;
In any online catalogue or item showcase, in other words on a web page that has any thing to do with the item.

in response to only a single action being performed
In response to an interaction by the user.

sending a request to order the item along with an identifier of a purchaser of the item to a server system;
Sending a cookie to the ecommerce server.

under control of a single-action ordering component of the server system, receiving the request;
Using server software that doesn't require a dozen verification steps.

retrieving additional information previously stored for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request;
After matching the cookie with your account on their site.

generating an order to purchase the requested item for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request using the retrieved additional information; and fulfilling the generated order to complete purchase of the item whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model."
Ordering the item without asking you to go to a page unrelated to the individual item.


Thus, whenever you log in to a site that has your CC number stored and there's a "buy" button (god forbid there's an AJAX confirmation!), the site is infringing this patent.

Re:The One-Click Patent in Not a Bad Patent (1)

feelbad_feelsgood (809633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18761389)

Hey, that's good information. Have you considered contributing to the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-Click [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:The One-Click Patent in Not a Bad Patent (1)

Acer500 (846698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18761547)

I still believe it is a bad patent.

Let's suppose they really were the first to make the (tiny) leap of logic of "I have the customer information, credit card, item information, all in my database, but I'm asking for confirmation item by item. Let's tie all of this in one step instead of the (n) steps we were making before"

If anything, the real feat is making the customer comfortable enough with Amazon to trust them with buying in one click (I don't like that, I'd rather confirm my purchases), the amount of credibility Amazon had (and has), and the amount of impulse buyers :P .

What would have happened if Software Patents didn't exist? I suspect that the One-click buy would still have been invented and implemented (so patents-as-invention-encouragement does not apply here) and would have given Amazon competitive advantage, and other companies would have caught up and copied it. Is that such a bad thing? If Amazon's edge is the One-click patent, then they're in deep trouble. I'd say Amazon's real edge is the trust of its customers, and whatever distribution advantages they have, and the inventory management. I'm not against patents in general, but I am against "trivial" patents, and software patents are notoriously hard to qualify - not to mention that the Australian Patent office adds:

You cannot patent artistic creations, mathematical models, plans, schemes or other purely mental processes.
where many software patents are very close to the boundary. Another such patent is the famed Eolas patent.

Well, I have not sucessfuly stated my point :( other than pointing to my belief that the existance of software patents did not contribute to encourage this "invention". It was an interesting exercise (and I ommitted the AIPLA definition of Patents and other stuff :) ).

I have to get my thoughts clear, and I'm still thinking of a good way to differentiate "obvious" from "non-obvious" in the case of software patents. Not to mention software is already covered by copyright.

Sorry for the rant :)

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18758199)

One things i really, really, really like about Amazon are the comments. For the most part, good and bad are there. Censoring is left to inappropiate or off-topic remarks. B&N, however, remove all negative remarks.

If Amazon messes up here and there, i don't care much. They offer an excellent service.
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