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Amazon Takes Round One in Patent Dispute

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the cold-cock-punch dept.

The Courts 229

Masem writes "Amazon has gotten a preliminary injunction placed on Barnes & Noble due to the fact that B&N used Amazon's patented 1-Click method for ecommerce. This does not bode well for those fighting against business model patents, and if Amazon does turn out victorious, this could deal a lot of damage to e-commerce." Now, at this point it is only a preliminary injunction, however, it does not sound the tone we'd like to hear.

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229 comments

preliminary injunction != major finding of fact (4)

apocalypse_now (82372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487008)

All a preliminary injunction says is that the plantiff's case does in fact have merit, and to prevent further potential damage from being done, the defendant must cease in the offensive behavior until such time as the defendant is cleared. There has been no trial, no finding of fact, and no consideration of the merits of Amazon's case by either a judge or a jury. Don't get too worried too quickly.
--
Matt Singerman

The good thing... (3)

chchchain (120540) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487009)

is that at least this fight is against someone with (relatively) deep pockets. I mean, at least bn.com isn't a one man show that doesn't even know a lawyer.

In a perfect world, the patent isn't valid if it was obvious to one skilled in the art. Hopefully B&N will duke this thing out and get a good precedent set.

Bad, Bad, Bad (3)

||Deech|| (16749) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487010)

This is just plain idiotic. The only way e-commerce is to take off is if it is universally adopted and considered "safe" by the unwashed masses. What Amazon is doing is *not* protecting their investment in doing busness over the web, rather, they are harming it by discouraging others from using a rather generic, but good, method of making it easier to shop online. The only way e-commerce will take off is if many companies, including competing ones, get out there and present their products. (I know their already are many out now) The threat of being sued because they might be violating someone's stupid patent on common technology would be a serious deterent to a small company attempting to market online.

Paging the WTO vandals to the PTO (1)

john@iastate.edu (113202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487011)

Of course, there is NO merit to this stupid patent as anyone who reads the CGI Usenet Newsgroups knows. Even disregarding that software patents are stupid and evil, there is plenty of prior art here -- including some written by me years ago -- and, of course, it's hardly novel, either.

Perhaps having 2 titans go at it will finally shed the needed sunshine on this nonsense -- so perhaps the injunction is a good thing in the end.

Patents can get stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487012)

I heard Bill Gates wants to patent the numbers 1 and 0. Do you not wonder what he wants with them?

This could be easy to get around. (3)

Dast (10275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487013)

Just make your customers click somewhere twice. ;)

Then you have 2-click shopping. But, then again, I'm applying for a patent on n-click shopping, where n > 1. So I would have to sue.

End run (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487014)

Considering the fact that the patent is very specific about "1-click" shopping, B&N would be wise to simply change their method of shopping so it takes 2 clicks to do the same. Personally, I don't visit vendor sites based on how many clicks it takes me to order...and I doubt many others do either. I think B&N is missing the forest for the trees. It make business sense to wage battle against Amazon on the sidelines, and find a temporary workaround.

Pfft.. (1)

AGTiny (104967) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487015)

All "1-click" shopping is is simply storing the users' name/address/shipping info/credit card (eek)/etc in some database and always using it when they buy something. That's not exactly rocket science.. so how can they patent something like that? If I were B&N I wouldn't be too worried about this.. except if they are forced to take their 1-click shopping offline, which I assume is what they will have to do.

Hmm.. I think I'll patent 2-click shopping.. 1-click plus an "OK, I really don't mind that you saved my credit card number in your database, so go ahead and let anyone with my cookie automatically order anything they want!" button :)

How much of a problem? (2)

citizenx (117856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487016)

As has been said, a preliminary injunction means only that the case has some merit. But really, if Barnes & Noble literally took Amazon's patented 1-Click technology, then there's a case.

The good thing is that there is, as there is with many patents, a way around it -- Barnes & Noble just has to change enough that it can be considered different. Honestly, the technology used by places like amazon and buy.com aren't really that good. All they seem to do is store your ip. That's just great if you happen to order something from a public computer. It saves your info for anyone else to use. They do have this "if you're not XXX, click here" line, but that just relies on users to do the right thing. I have long ago learned that you can never rely on and end-user to do the right thing.

The sad thing is how many people don't seem to realize what can happen if they save private information on public machines. In the computer lab at school, so many people use programs like Eudora and Outlook Express to check their school mail accounts and leave their account info saved locally. They don't seem to realize that anyone who logs in at the same machine can access their mail account.

In my opinion, a company that cares about the people ordering from them would make them log in and produce the information from that. It's slightly less convenient, but it's also more secure.

Whatever (3)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487017)

Alright, this is probably going to be an unpopular post on a open-source haven like /., but I think that it's good that some of these companies have a way to protect themselves from competition. Internet sites offer so much to so many for, in most cases, real little. Think about it - you spend hours developing your competitive advantage and it's gone the second you go live. Not that companies should be able to patent non-revenue and widely used things like the technology behind downloading files off the net, but innovative methods like Priceline's and maybe Amazon's, that are not real difficult to reproduce but still unique, should have some protection.

Re:preliminary injunction != major finding of fact (2)

Ageless (10680) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487018)

Which amounts to guilty until proven innocent. If B&N has to stop doing business, they start to lose money. In this case the "offensive behaviour" is operating a web site that makes B&N money. Whether Amazon wins or not, B&N still loses money. This is pretty bad.

Don't spend money at Amazon.com (1)

andyturk (92537) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487019)

Not that my occasional purchases are going to matter in the grand scheme of things, but I don't feel the need to buy from Amazon in the future because of this.

It's a great place to shop, but there are lots of alternatives. I'll spend my money with vendors who aren't resorting to dirty patent tricks in such an obvious way.

Re:The good thing... (2)

twdorris (29395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487020)

The good thing is that at least this fight is against someone with (relatively) deep pockets.

The bad part is that it's just as likely B&N will simply make their ordering system a "two-click" setup than fight with Amazon over a patent issue. B&N isn't in the business of proving the patent system is silly. They're in the business of selling books. If the bottom line says a fight over a patent issue isn't worth the trouble (i.e., they're not likely to loose a bunch of customers simply because they remove the one-click approach), then I bet they'll just decide to do away with one-click rather than fight it. They have nothing to gain just by proving the patent system is stupid, so they'll probably not bother.

At least that's my guess.

Why I hate amazon.com... (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487021)

This stupid patent and the insanely irritating Christmas commercials they have been running lately. At least bn.com has a plan to institute their version (express checkout) soon.

We should all do our seasonal book and music gift buying at bn.com! I have...

Eric

... (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487022)

This doesn't mean too much, except that the judge thinks that there is enough possibility for damage to place an injunction on B&N to prevent further harm. Don't get too cynical just yet!

Why I'm not going to be buying from Amazon anymore (3)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487023)

I'm letting them know, politely, that their practices will cost them more than just attorney fees. To make the point clear, I'm attaching the total sum I spent in their on-line store during this year.

While Amazon's service is generally good, and shopping there is easy and convenient, I can't in good faith endorse anyone who abuses the patent system the way they have. I'll be more than happy to shop there again, if they make it clear that they will make it their policy to not patent obvious software "inventions".

Steeltoe (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487024)

I wouldn't depend on B&N to fight the battle for us. It would be nice, but they are probably reluctant to fight the patent itself. Rather the defence would involve differences in implementation. The worst result for us would be a settlement.

Guess who'd be paying for an "Amazon-One-Click E-Commerce Tax" in the end?

- Steeltoe

Games for Children - Corporate Style (1)

mykey2k (42851) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487025)

This patenting/suing/injuncting crap is just like a game of Jinx!

All these obviously repressed corporate types are doing nothing but childrens games -- only this time they expect their Coke at the end.

(Jinx - owe me a Coke!)

-m

So what? I don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487026)

In the past 18 months I've purchased close to $US 2000 worth of books from Amazon.co.uk. I don't use 1-click & have no intention of using it in the future. It doesn't affect my purchasing habits in the slightest. I would rather go through the more tedious route of purchasing just to make sure all my details are correct.

Re:preliminary injunction != major finding of fact (1)

apocalypse_now (82372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487027)

No, you are WRONG. It is NOT a finding of fact - it is a statement saying that the plantiff's case has merit. Study the law a little bit before you go and make such rash comments.
--
Matt Singerman

Geek Business gone Big Business (2)

karb (66692) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487028)

I hope that last accident didn't post ...

I am firmly of the belief that public companies are inherently evil.

This evilness is especially disturbing to observe in companies we think/thought are/were cool. It seems like once a company goes public, it loses its soul -- the purpose of the company is then to make as much money as possible for the shareholders. Obviously, you have to be somewhat ethical to make money -- you must keep your employees and customers, and you must behave according to the law to keep from being involved in lawsuits.

Unfortunately, it's very good business strategy to file stupid lawsuits against people because they might infringe on a stupid patent you hold that stupid people shouldn't have issued you in the first place. This sort of stupid lawsuit is now just another tool of a "successful business." Suits probably have friggin' seminars on it.

A big problem (2)

Sulka (4250) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487029)

This isn't about data security, it's about ease of use.

The 1-Click "technology" is very simple and logical construction that's fairly obvious to anyone creating ecommerce sites professionally. On the sites I've been working on, we're using similar techniques to ease the use of the site. So, IMHO, this shouldn't have received a patent at all as it's nothing unique and similar things have been constructed in the past for certain.

Now, the reason this being bad is that if other web developers want to give their users similar ease of use, they can't. As a user, you suffer. Amazon's patented a user interface contruction and thus making it harder for others to provide easy to use web services. And since Amazon is getting away with it, others will come behing. Is that really what you want?

sulka

Re:Bad, Bad, Bad (Not!) (2)

pq (42856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487030)

From Amazon's point of view, at least, its *not* a bad thing. Yes, the unwashed masses will have to consider one-click safe and easy before online shopping "takes off", but Amazon would much rather have companies pay them a penny each time someone used it!

Look at it from their POV - they own a patent on this. No matter how misguided, the law of the land says they should get royalties on it. And would companies walk away from one-click if they had to pay amazon $0.01 every transaction? I think not... its just too useful for those "unwashed masses" you speak of. So I think they're doing something sensible by enforcing their patent, rather like trademark protection. (Now if there were to be a net-wide backlash against them, that would be a different can of worms...)

Do I think this is a good thing? No, not at all - but the fault is in the broken US patent system. Amazon and B&N are just doing their bit to bring it to wide attention, and I for one will not be unhappy about the slugfest. (Though who gets rich from this? Amazon? Nah, not yet. B&N? Nope. The masses? Not really. Its a conspiracy by trial lawyers, of course... maybe they divvy up cases like this: You patent this, I use it, you sue me, we both get rich while the companies bleed...)

I'm cynical this morning! Must be the additives in the coffee...

Re:The good thing... (1)

chchchain (120540) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487031)

The bad part is that it's just as likely B&N will simply make their ordering system a "two-click" setup than fight with Amazon over a patent issue.

all fine & dandy until that pesky "two-click" patent pops up... Will have to wait and see I guess, but in a landscape littered with patent mines, this issue is going to come to the fore at some point, and I'd expect it from B&N before joeschmoe.com. They might deem it in their overall better interest to clear the general air with a court precedent if they feel confident they can win.

Good! (2)

Otto (17870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487032)

A preliminary injunction means that this will probably go to trial.

I hope to hell this stupid patent is overturned. I mean this is as obvious as you get. Storing the customer info in a database has been done for years. Making a 1-step buy button on the item is so obvious that it's ridiculous. There's plenty of prior art, as well.

I hope that B&N fights this one tooth and nail. With any luck, Amazon's patent will be ruled as unenforceable or overturned or something. Hopefully, the judge will see this as well, and decide to make a statement about companies patenting the blatently obvious to mess their competitors about, and say that the only way the get away with it is that the patent office is too busy to care anymore.

I need to vent my anger more often.

---

Re:Hi People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487033)

You have to wonder why an obviously intelligent person hasn't got better things to do with their time than make comments like this.

Re:Bad, Bad, Bad (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487034)

The problem here is simply that even Amazon, the acknowledged leader in e-commerce book sales is still not turning a real profit. So, someone there decided to look shortterm and register this *rediculous* patent and now start a lawsuit. If they win, they will probably do more to hurt e-commerce than any other organization - simply because they will scare away other potential e-commerce businesses.

The only good thing here will be if the result of this lawsuit is a legal finding that you *cannot* patent software or webdesign techniques. Copyright the code - sure I can see that - but not the methodology. Absolute fscking B$.

Maybe I should patent "1-click" browsing:

"A method by which the user can be transferred from 1 Universal Resource Locator to another Universal Resource locator, automatically by simply using their pointing device to select an underlined word, phrase, symbol, or graphic image, and requiring only 1 click of the button on their pointing device. This method also to be available using the keys of their computer keyboard as an alternative."

Then I could sue every webmaster who has a page on the web and demand royalties!

Of course there would be no problem showing prior art - but then prior art undoubtedly existed *somewhere* before some Amazon programmer wrote a few lines of code that created some cookies on the user's computer.

Re:Patents can get stupid (0)

wolfgang_spangler (40539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487035)

bah, I think it has already been ruled that numbers can't be patented. Wasn't that the ruling when Intel tried to patent "586"?

Slow programmers? (3)

gorilla (36491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487036)

"Amazon.com spent thousands of hours developing the 1-Click shopping feature. We've always worked hard to be innovators."

Grab cookie.
Grab book id.
Use cookie to lookup userid in database, and extract shipping & billing details.
Create order.
Output pretty screen.

How hard were these programmers working?

Fight fire with fire. (2)

Mr_Ceebs (60709) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487037)

If as everyone says there is no merit in Amazon's case. Then the injunction must be the aim of the suit. and so having recieved it countersuit, claiming that as the technology that amazon are using is so obvious. then they are presenting a spurious case, which can only be intended to damage my buisness. get them charged with restraint of trade, use the department of justice against them. stop them setting up a Microsoft style monopoly of simple shopping. after all it's going to be easier to do before they're in the overwhelming position.

(n+1)/n-Click? (0)

twdorris (29395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487038)

Putting the whole patent silliness aside for a second, I wonder if B&N could introduce a more technically-savvy (n+1)/n-Click approach. The first click brings up a box that says "Do you wish to auto-order this item and all subsequent items?". If the user says "yes", then he is allowed to click the same button later to auto order things without the prompt. I would envision the button initially saying "2-Click", then "1.5-Click", then "1.33-Click", then "1.25-Click", etc.

That's different from the 1-Click approach in that it's prompting the user to agree to the order after the first click, but subsequent clicks are auto-ordered for them until that shipment is processed (at which time, it starts over).

This has the advantage of approaching 1-Click technology as n approaches infinity. :-)

Re:This is the good US... (2)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487039)

Why don't we actually hear more about the patent problems elsewhere? I can hardly believe that only the US has greedy exclusionists.

Re:Paging the WTO vandals to the PTO (2)

karb (66692) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487040)

Have any of you considered pointing this out to B&N? If what you say is true (I'm not doubting your veracity -- just IANAL), I'm sure they would be more than happy to get the patent overturned for you.

Re:Hi People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487041)

I've been wondering about something. Do you mean that you have both linux and grits together in your pants? Or do you have linux somewhere else, while your pants are filled with grits alone?

Re:Patents can get stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487042)

so the name pentium was born

time frame (2)

flipflop (18397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487043)

What an interesting time frame they chose to go after their competition. I realize that they were awarded this screwy patent not too long ago, but hey, this is ridiculous and just plain evil. It kind of reminds me of a time when a local grocery store was in trouble, so they sold canned foods at a loss to attract customers. What happened? The competitor sent employees over to buy all the on-sale items to hasten their death.

Right in time for Christmas shopping - what a great time to cause the most amount of damage with an injunction.

Re:Hi People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487044)

I leave you to resume pouring hot bowls of grits down my pants.

I would sooner kill myself with a blunt salad fork then do that. Pouring grits down your pants is fine it's only when you trample on my rights to live that you are in error.

Should be easy to defeat...heres why! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487045)

In the olden days (prior art) if you wanted by something from a book seller either by phone or in person you'd do the following. This also would be applicable to any other buying scheme. a). Visit JC Penney/Sears and order something from their catalogs or within the store. The same applies to looking at Books in Print. b). Get the price of the product(s) c). Put the item on lawaway either by having: 1) your name, address, phone, credit card etc be written on a piece of paper. 2) same as (1) but a clerk types it into the computer system (online) for you

Re:Whatever (1)

Ozzy (119339) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487046)

Bottom line is that B&N had to develop an implementation of the idea anyways. It's not like they took the script and reverse-engineered it. It's easier just to re-code their own solution.

And it's better for the consumer, now there are two companies with an easy-to-use system for purchasing on-line.

If you are trying to defend Amazon.com's millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours of work, remember that the system that they implemented is a simple lookup to a database. It's an idea that is not even theirs and it's been around for years.

It's not amazon that is under attack here it's the Patent Office's haphazard granting of stupid patents. It has to stop.

Re:This could be easy to get around. (1)

Gurlia (110988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487047)

\begin{sarcasm}

Gee, didn't Gore patent n-click Internet browsing (since he invented the Internet)?

Wait, isn't there a patent for n-click Computer Usage, owned by the inventor of the Mouse? Did somebody say "prior art"? but doesn't the poor guy have a right to defend his online position and his business plan?!?!

\end{sarcasm}

(Disclaimer: I have no political motives other than to spin humor at the expense of politicians.)

This is a joke, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487048)

I certainly hope that is only a joke.

You know there is a problem with their logic (3)

SilverFate (113951) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487049)

The problem with their logic is a very simple one. In order for a patent to be valid it must not be obviouse. Well here is the thing, Microsoft had a patent on Cookie technology (as in the browser end) first, and the concept of 'one click shopping' was the whole point of Cookies, to make e-commerce easy (no really, I did some probing). Anyways B&N should call as witness the team at microsoft who developed the technology, since that would end it real quick. I hate to say it but this time Microsoft may be a hero for free flow of commerce and information.

Re: != != == (1)

Tucan (60206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487050)

No, s/he was RIGHT. In the major programming languages comparing (rather than assigning) the equality of two values, != means "not equal" and == means "is equal". So, the title of the original post was correct in stating that "preliminary injunction is NOT equal to major finding of fact".

Study programming syntax a little bit before you go and make such rash criticisms.

Should be easy to defeat...heres why! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487051)

In the olden days (prior art) if you wanted by something from a book seller either by phone or in person you'd do the following. This also would be applicable to any other buying scheme. a). Visit JC Penney/Sears and order something from their catalogs or within the store. The same applies to looking at Books in Print. b). Get the price of the product(s) c). Put the item on lawaway either by having: 1) your name, address, phone, credit card etc be written on a piece of paper. 2) same as (1) but a clerk types it into the computer system (online) for you vs. you doing it yourself (self serve) NOTE: This is the 1-click or n-click or long handwriting approach which stores the data. d). Come back to actually complete (buy) the product or call them to cancel the purchase. So. the definition of 1-click purchase etc has already been done by a similar method. THe purpose of which is for the customer to buy something or not conventiently. Amazon case lost!

Re:Pfft.. (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487052)

All "1-click" shopping is is simply storing the users' name/address/shipping info/credit card (eek)/etc in some database

I remember that back in January, amazon.co.uk were not registered with the Data Protection Act 1998 (updates 1984) (UK) which would have meant that doing any of the above would have been illegal under UK law. Does anyone know whether they are registered yet under the DPA? If not, then surely B&N could get their own back...

I think that in this case B&N will win out if people send examples of prior art to Barnes and Nobles lawyers. If no-one tells them, then I doubt that they will have fun finding said examples. It is not enough to got "I did this blah years ago" on Slashdot, you know!

Not that they are nasty, I am sure.

//TODO: Create a tech-oriented justice system (1)

J.J. (27067) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487053)

With the rise of e-commerce and the Internet, we've seen a increase in tech-related cases hit the courts. This is a problem. In the best of cases, the justice system doesn't move at the speed of the Internet. Nor do our judges fully understand the industry and the effects their rulings have.

This Amazon case is a perfect example. Every one of us understands that the Amazon patent is shady, at best. If I was the judge, I'd declare the patent null and void, and rip into the Patent Office. But I know. A real judge? He sees a patent, sees evidence of B&N violating said patent, and obviously issues a preliminary injunction.

Now, I've got faith in our judges and justice system. It's populated by remarkably clever people. Judges will study, research, and learn - mcuh as Judge Jackson did in the Microsoft case. The problem lies in the fact that this makes the wheels of justice move even slower than before.

The gov't needs some type of tech-smart judge.

and the patent office needs to get a clue.

Neither will happen, but it's nice to wish.

Let's Boycott Amazon... (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487054)

This is a capitalist society we have in North America, let's vote with our dollars, and pressure those who have "partnerships" with Amazon, like Slashdot, to dissolve those partnerships.

ttyl
Farrell

E-mail B&N (5)

blogan (84463) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487055)

Instead of e-mailing Amazon and saying, "I'm not going to buy from you anymore....", e-mail B&N and say, "If you fight this case instead of cowering, I will be a faithful customer to you. If you give in, I will not buy from you."

Not again... (1)

big-papa (87916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487056)

After watching Borland and Lotus duke it out in court several years ago over look-and-feel issues between Quattro and Lotus-123 (a move BTW which came close to bankrupting both companies), it's really suprising to see two big players in e-commerce trying to do the same thing. I think I'm in the wrong career - I want to be a lawyer.

Re:Why I'm not going to be buying from Amazon anym (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487057)

I have found BookPool [bookpool.com] to be cheaper than Amazon.com on many occasions. There are certainly alternatives out there...

Re:Whatever (1)

Borealis (84417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487058)

This has nothing to do with open source and everything to do with stupid patents. The "technology" in question is simply the idea to store customer information so that when the user clicks a button then all the saved info is used to build an order (instead of having to ask the customer for that information again).

Amazon should never been granted a patent because there are almost certainly examples of prior use and the idea is also an obvious application of other technologies. The fact that the patent was granted shows the shortcomings of the patent office. This is further made evident by the fact that, so far, the patent is being upheld.

Amazon isn't trying to protect their investment in their "technology", they're trying to use the legal system to beat down their competition with ludicrous patents. It's like a writer of murder mysteries trying to sue other murder mystery writers for using his patented "frame the daughter for the the brother's crime" plot twist, just so that he can take their books off the market.

If you owned Amazon, you'd be desperate too (2)

the red pen (3138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487059)

Amazon.com sells books over the web. Currently, they lose a lot of money doing it, but eventually, it's hoped that they will start making money.

Too bad for them, but bookseller Barnes and Noble is also selling books on the web. Barnes and Noble is already a profitable company with a large market share. Why should Amazon best them on the web? Because they're first?

In a world where the competition is one click away, Amazon needs reasons to compell web-surfers to stay on their site. How about if the shopping experience is marginally smoother?

This patent may be silly, but man, it's all they got to show for their $26 billion USD market capitalization. That's worth a vicious court battle.

Re:This is the good US... (1)

Biff Cool (18858) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487060)

I would imagine that in other countries, companies that do this just don't have as many resources to back up absurd patent claims.

I used to like amazon too.


Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

Re:How much of a problem? (2)

Otto (17870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487061)

The good thing is that there is, as there is with many patents, a way around it -- Barnes & Noble just has to change enough that it can be considered different.

The problem is that the patent isn't for a piece of code or something. The patent is essentially for a method. Store the customer info in a DB, then have a button on each item to make an "instant buy" type of thing. That's it. Anything that does that in any way at all is covered by the patent.

Honestly, the technology used by places like amazon and buy.com aren't really that good. All they seem to do is store your ip. That's just great if you happen to order something from a public computer. It saves your info for anyone else to use.

Actually, they use cookies. Anyway, you can set your account not to use permanent cookies on most sites (I don't know about Amazon)...

And if you ever use a public computer to purchase something, thereby entering your CC info, you are an idiot. Nearly every public computer I've ever used, I've found a keyboard sniffer installed by some enterprising young cracker on it. :-) Go to the library sometime and take a real good look at some of the free systems sitting around...

The sad thing is how many people don't seem to realize what can happen if they save private information on public machines. In the computer lab at school, so many people use programs like Eudora and Outlook Express to check their school mail accounts and leave their account info saved locally. They don't seem to realize that anyone who logs in at the same machine can access their mail account.

This is why you remove stupid programs like these and force the user to do it your way.

Back at school, so many people were leaving their account info around, that finally, they disabled SMTP/POP3 access from the labs. Blocked those IP ranges. Suddenly, those people using eudora at 50 terminals had to telnet into the main system like they were supposed to do in the first place. Those people using their own personal systems were not in those IP ranges, and were not blocked. Later they switched to IMAP and some standard program that always asked for username/password in the public labs, along with hardware-based locking of the drives from changes.

A good sysadmin will do things like that to make it happen the right way. I mean yes, freedom of choice; yes, each user knows different programs.. But when 50 people complain to you that the email they just sent was on some random users account because they didn't change the mail program setting before they sent the e-mail, and replies are going every which way.. Well, I think you'd see the benefits of making the user do what you damn well want them to do.

Of course, at some place like a library you don't have that sysadmin. You just have a standard PC with a phone cord plugged in.

In my opinion, a company that cares about the people ordering from them would make them log in and produce the information from that. It's slightly less convenient, but it's also more secure.

What, and upset all the customers who use their computers from home, who never have anyone else access the system? Sounds like a bad solution to me. Upset the masses to protect the few who don't know any better? No. Bad idea.

---

Re:Don't spend money at Amazon.com (1)

zogulus (47344) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487062)

I agree. I have spent a lot of money with Amazon over the past couple of years and have found them good with dealing with any complaints or queries I have. The best thing you can do is send an e-mail to Amazon explaining that you can no longer do business with a company that uses such tactics. A simple polite e-mail should do the trick. If they get enough people voting with their feet...

thanks,

- Dale

Stifling innovation? (3)

karb (66692) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487063)

I think the problem with patenting business strategies lies in the non-evolutionary nature of it.

Mapquest was (I believe) the first online map engine. Mapblast came along, it does the same sort of thing, but it's a superior product. (don't argue with me about the previous if I'm wrong, I'm just trying to make a point.) If mapquest had patented the idea of having a map online (I don't really know if they have or not), we would be stuck with crappy Mapquest until the patent ran out, or until someone came along with enough money to start a new business *and* license the patent, which could be a long time.

When the business strategy is nearly the product, (you can buy the same book ten different places on the web, so you use the easiest one) only allowing the original inventors to use a strategy stifles innovation. It's like the first bookstore that thought to put a coffeeshop in it would sue every other one that did it. You could argue for something like that, but traditionally that hasn't been patent fodder.

Bookselling online is obviously different from an online service (like the map businesses), but I think the analogy extends. I think the bookseller with the best prices and best marketing strategy (not the best totally original strategy, just the best strategy) should be able to be the best bookseller, not the bookseller with the best patents.

p.s. if think that if Amazon were smart, they would have just found a way to license their software to all the other booksellers that were slow to come online. It would have really fattened their profits (if they have even started making them yet).

Re:This is the good US... (1)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487064)

If you think this is bad, wait 'til cases like this have the WTO behind them...

Re:Why I'm not going to be buying from Amazon anym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487065)

Fool, don't you get it? Amazon is more than just books. It's the virtual Walmart. It has everything. Soon it will have chat and other services to lock you in. You'll be able to have real-time discussions with author's, reviewers, etc.

Buy from competitors, send your receipts. (1)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487066)

Hell, send them copies of your receipts from other online booksellers, telling them that their heavy-handed approach to squashing their competitors is reason enough to do business elsewhere. If they see enoguh dollars going to other companies for this, maybe it'll change their minds. The only thing they care about is money.

They're well aware that their patent is ludicrous. They're just playing dumb and trying to screw their competitors, using an overburdened and behind the curve government agency as their shield. Let them know that you know this, and because of it you're spending your dollars elsewhere.

Re:Why I'm not going to be buying from Amazon anym (1)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487067)

Thanks for the link.

This isn't about money, however. I've been buying from Amazon because it was convenient, and I didn't have to spend time looking. My time is valuable, too.

take over (1)

kettch (40676) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487068)

it seems to me that amazon is trying get a hold on simple things that everyone should have rights to. That is one method they could use to get a monopoly on the (albeit useless) region of selling krap.

hmmm... sound familiar?

their own way or amazons? (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487069)

Is B&N using amazons method to institute 1-click shopping, or are they using an in house method with a user interface that works similarly to acheive the same end result? If its the latter, and amazon wins, Apple should file a lawsuit against Microsoft. IBM should file a lawsuit against Compaq. Intel should file a lawsuit against AMD(among others). Whoever has the rights to UNIX has alot of people to sue. Unless B&N is actually using the same code, aquired directly rather than coincidentally coming up with the same obvious solution to the same problem, there is absolutely no case.

Re:Let's Boycott Amazon... (2)

vyesue (76216) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487070)

I thought that /. stopped linking to amazon - I seem to remember seeing Fatbrain links in most of the book reviews and whatnot lately.

Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487071)

This is so sick and wrong -- I'm actually starting to look for the Grits Boy posts now.

p.s. Do the grits down your pants work with FreeBSD or is just not the same thing?

This is the proof ... (1)

cyoon (99971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487072)

... that stupid patents cause stupid lawsuits. I nearly choked on my beer when I noticed the little patent number next to their One-Click thing on Amazon's site. It's such a stupid thing to grant a patent on. And now we're stuck with a stupid lawsuit that's going to have widespread, meaningful impact. Either way, consumers are going to lose.

Re:Hi People (1)

Grits Boy (120511) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487073)

You must have missed my manifesto which I released recently. I repost here for you edification. <begin repost> Hi people. Before I pour hot grits down my pants, I would like to have a word with my adoring public. In my absence the last few days, I've noticed a proliferation of people running around claiming to be the grits boy. While I was initially flattered , I quickly became saddened by the actions of seemingly noble minded slashdotters. While most imposters were able to muster up a weak facsimile of my legendary, humourous musings on life spent with grits down my pants, it became clear that they were missing an essential point. The point is this: I actually enjoy pouring hot grits down my pants. I seriously doubt that the imposters share such an affinity. Why do I enjoy pouring hot grits down my pants? That is a good question deserving of a serious answer. I have seen several arm-chair pyschologists attempt to diagnose my predelection for tossing hominy down my trousers. Some have chalked it up to a perverse, sado-masochistic, sexual ritual. Some imply that my prose is the work of some bored child. The plain truth is I do it as homage to Linux. Homage to Linux? Yes. Think about it. Linux has five letters. Grits has five letters. There are instant versions (Redhat) of Linux and there are instant grits. There are industrial strength versions of Linux (Debian) and there are industrial strength, slow-cooking grits. Linux started out as a niche product. Grits, outside of the south, remains a niche breakfast product. Linux and grits both go well with eggs and sausage. The synergy between Linux and grits is clearly evident. When I pour hot bowls of grits down my pants, I am professing my love for Linux !!! You now know who the real grits boy is. You also know a little more about the grits boy. I hope that I am able to continue my relationship with you fine people. I also hope that some among you will come to appreciate my love for grits and Linux. Who knows. Maybe you too will pour hot bowls of grits down your pants. Remember. It starts with hominy grit. </begin repost>

Re:Why I'm not going to be buying from Amazon anym (1)

kinesis (13238) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487074)

My latest round of book shopping was done at Barnes and Noble for exactly this reason. I won't be back at Amazon unless they drop this absurdity.

You and I aren't alone here. I think a lot of software developers (not just /.ers) feel this is in bad taste. Check out Brian Hook's(of iD Software and now Verant) take on the situation at http://www.voodooextreme.com/ask/rant.html#oct2599

Re:Hi People (0)

Grits Boy (120511) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487075)

You must have missed my manifesto which I released recently. I repost here for you edification.

<begin repost>

Hi people. Before I pour hot grits down my pants, I would like to have a word with my adoring public.

In my absence the last few days, I've noticed a proliferation of people running around claiming to be the grits boy. While I was initially flattered , I quickly became saddened by the actions of seemingly noble minded slashdotters. While most imposters were able to muster up a weak facsimile of my legendary, humourous musings on life spent with grits down my pants, it became clear that they were missing an essential point. The point is this: I actually enjoy pouring hot grits down my pants. I seriously doubt that the imposters share such an affinity.

Why do I enjoy pouring hot grits down my pants? That is a good question deserving of a serious answer. I have seen several arm-chair pyschologists attempt to diagnose my predelection for tossing hominy down my trousers. Some have chalked it up to a perverse, sado-masochistic, sexual ritual. Some imply that my prose is the work of some bored child. The plain truth is I do it as homage to Linux.

Homage to Linux? Yes. Think about it.

Linux has five letters. Grits has five letters. There are instant versions (Redhat) of Linux and there are instant grits. There are industrial strength versions of Linux (Debian) and there are industrial strength, slow-cooking grits. Linux started out as a niche product. Grits, outside of the south, remains a niche breakfast product. Linux and grits both go well with eggs and sausage.

The synergy between Linux and grits is clearly evident. When I pour hot bowls of grits down my pants, I am professing my love for Linux !!!

You now know who the real grits boy is. You also know a little more about the grits boy. I hope that I am able to continue my relationship with you fine people. I also hope that some among you will come to appreciate my love for grits and Linux. Who knows. Maybe you too will pour hot bowls of grits down your pants. Remember. It starts with hominy grit.

</begin repost>

Re:Don't spend money at Amazon.com (1)

Biff Cool (18858) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487076)

I agree... however as I was reading the article I found I was more offended by the continuous use of the word innovate then anything else. I really hate that word almost as musch as integrate or e-.

Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

Slashdot & amazon (2)

QuMa (19440) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487077)

Congrats to slashdot by the way, they seem to have silently switched to fatbrain. Weehoo!

Now open /.'s source taco, and we'll stop saying first post all the time. ;-)

This is kinda scary (1)

Merk (25521) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487078)

I'm developing an online shopping system for someone, and, of course, am trying to reduce the number of clicks it takes to do what someone wants.

I have never bought anything using Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but I might end up getting sued for independently coming up with a way of doing things that's too similar to their way of doing things.

I have a friend who worked for a company doing reverse engineering at some point. My recollection is that it was legal under certain strict circumstances. The people doing the reverse engineering had to make sure they didn't know anything about the device they were reverse-engineering, and that when they were done, all they did is write reports, which other people then used to create a device using the same technology.

Would something like that protect me in this case? I can't be violating their IP because I don't know anything about it?

Re:Whatever (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487079)

Hey, I make a living creating software. I'm not against the concept of government sponsored protection of innovative things to reward the innovator and encourage further innovation. I dream of getting a great idea, implementing it, selling it with precisely that protection, and becoming filthy stinking rich. (Who here doesn't?)

However, this particular "technology" isn't worth protection. It's not innovative. It's obvious.

The next thing you know, somebody's going to patent putting the checkout counters in a department store near the exit.
--

Re:Oh no (1)

Grits Boy (120511) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487080)

I regret to inform you that at this time that I have only worked with grits and Linux (please see manifesto above). I do not rule out using FreeBSD in the future, however I will only use FreeBSD when I find a true synergy between it and grits. I am very serious about grits, as you well know.

Thank you for continued patronage and the question.

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487081)

It would but there aren't any drivers for it yet.

You must be brain damaged (1)

dejb (104257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487082)

How is storing an ID for a user innovative? Isn't that the whole reason cookies where invented?

The M$ business model ..... (1)

supersnail (106701) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487083)

This looks another high(ish) tech company adopting the M$ business model. It work likes this:- If by skill or fluke you become the market leader in your sector. You want to protect this position. You could of course do this by continuing to provide innivative solutions and excellent service, but this is hard work. Instead what you do whenever someone looks like challenging your postition you unleash a pack of lawers. The fact that legaly you don't have a leg to stand on does not matter -- your rival must respond to the suit which causes time and money, plus, you almost always get the preliminary injunction. For a small rival company the existence of a law suit will usually sink the company. For a larger target like B&N the preliminary injunction will disrupt your development plans , and, probably your sales and marketing as well. This disruption is not trivial re-scheduling and replanning your development efforts costs $'000s. M$ of course are famous for this type of stuff (e.g. copyrighting words like "bookshelf"). The only solution that I can see is too lobby congress and get all software patents and silly copyrights abolished.

Please help me understand (1)

SedentaryZ (31149) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487084)

OK, help me figure this out. I know that there are several criteria that must be met before a patent can be issued, such as no prior art. As I understand it, one of these restrictions is that the invention to be patented should not be obvious to another person who is reasonably skilled in the particular field the patent applies to. So don't most of these patents that involve patenting an existing business model translated to the internet fall into this category where the invention is obvious? What part of the 1-click patent or other patents such as selling downloadable music or buying custom generated music cds over the internet is so non-intuitive to other business people and internet developers?

Re:Why I'm not going to be buying from Amazon anym (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487085)

Who cares? I don't shop at Wal-Mart if I can help it. If I visit Amazon.com or any other book vendor, I'll do it to buy books, not read a bunch of banal book reviews or lame author interviews. I'll do a Google search if I'm interested in real author information.

Amazon just lost another customer (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487086)

Alright, this is probably going to be an unpopular post on a open-source haven like /., but I think that it's good that some of these companies have a way to protect themselves from competition. The best protection from competition is to give great service to customers, offer great products at a good price. In other words, do what is best for the customer - people will pay money for that. When a company competes by hindering the operations of competitors it is doing something that is undeniably bad for society as a whole. In otherwords, it's a bad corporate citizen. Not to mention that the patent in question is ridiculously obvious to anyone but a patent examiner and the judge and never should have been granted in the first place; this action should never have gotten to the point of an injunction. I'd like to get on my little soapbox right now and say to Amazon: I'm a customer, I've bought books from you, but I never will again until you toss this stupid patent.

Let us know where you sent it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487087)

Is there a good email address to use? Thanks

But they aren't smart ... (3)

bridgette (35800) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487088)

As someone else pointed out, they claim to have spent thousands of hours on what is essentially a fairly simple feature - adding the "one click" button to the UI and using cookies to determine the user (assuming the guts of "multi-click" shopping were already there). This makes it very likely that either their progammers aren't very good or their project management isn't very good, or both. And if so, the software's quality is questionable and therefore difficult to sell.

Then again, since their success isn't measured in actual profit, but rather in "percieved mindshare" inflating the stock price, they would prefer eliminating competitors to mearly making money off of them.

BTW, I totally agree that this patent mess is a Very Bad Thing(c). Moreover, I don't understand how or why these "concept" patents are granted in the first place. It's one thing to copyright the phrase "One click shopping" but it's another thing to patent the concept of not requiring a login to make an online purchase. It's equivalent to McDonalds not being content with copyrighting "SuperSize" and instead patenting the concept of offering food in a greater quantity for an small additional fee.

Re:Don't spend money at Amazon.com (1)

anatoli (74215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487089)

A simple polite e-mail should do the trick.
How 'bout simple polite e-mail to O'Reily? Why a decent publisher would want to do business with them?

I cannot afford boycotting O'Reily (where else can I get books?), but at least I'd like to show my concern.

This is a Negative Karma Magnet® post.
--

Amazon Asks For Trouble? (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487090)

Amazon's claim can be debunked by simply finding sites that existed prior to Amazon's "invention" of 1-click shopping, where 1-click or 0-click shopping was actually in use. Out of all those sex sites, there just about had to be a few that grabbed some poor sucker's credit card and then started billing him on a "per view" basis -- thereby demonstrating "0-click shopping". There were probably even sites that informed you that they were going to charge your previously entered credit card to show a nekkid hot babe if you clicked some button, and then actually showed you a nekkid hot babe and charged you when you hit the button.

Hell, even a posting to the internet would do. Some nerd along the line probably thought it worth mentioning in some newsgroup that activating stored billing/shipping information automatically might be a good idea because, after all, we can write these wonderful things called "computer programs" and it is worth writing them because they can do repetative, mundane things automatically.

But really, isn't this missing the point? Amazon is damaging a world-wide infrastructure with their sleazy conduct. They should pay damages to all those who have suffered inconvenience as a result of their abuse of the patent laws.

For example, Amazon has made themselves so repugnant that I cannot visit their web site. So where do I go to buy things on the web without all the hassle?

Most of the people who shop on the web have time that is worth a reasonable amount of money.

I wonder if it is feasible for all the Barnes and Noble customers (and all the other web shoppers) who are now inconvenienced by the Amazon anarchists, hiding behind their legalisms, to file a class action law suit against Amazon?

Re:Let us know where you sent it (1)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487091)

I sent it to feedback@amazon.com. I don't know whether this address goes to a human or to /dev/null, because I haven't gotten a reply yet.

Re:preliminary injunction != major finding of fact (3)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487092)

Ageless does have a point: these preliminary injunctions can be
crucial in business. So even if Amazon's patent is found to be
unworkable in law, they still got the lead on Barnes & Noble through
this maneuvre.

It's an old strategy in anti-trust law: company invokes
an anti-dumping lawsuit against a foreign competitor, gets injunction.
Case eventually reaches trial after lots of delaying tactics, evidence
shows foreign competitor's prices were profitable. Case dropped
plaintiff ordered to pay costs which were a small price to pay for the
market advantage achieved by the whole legal fiasco.

amazon.com and the freedom to innovate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487093)

you'd think they could have taken the time to come up with their own cheezy buzz-phrase, especially considering the rousing success that it has brought ms so far

Re:Whatever (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487094)

None of which has anything to do with wether an idea should be patentable or not. To obtain a patent an idea should be revolutionary, not evolutionary. Neither should there be previous implementations of the same idea. This is not innovation.

Yes, those companies have a real bad problem, because theyre just stock hype and so much hot air. They have virutally nothing except a brand. Yes, a lot of stockholders will get burned as they realize they will never make money to justify stock price because any teenager in a garage could do what they do and competition will be fierce. Too bad for them. It still isnt patentable.

Hey, I actually thought about something close to the web before it existed. I spend several hours on it. Think I should do an IPO and patent the web? After all, I deserve some profit from those hours.

I'll never buy from Amazon again. (1)

danbeck (5706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487095)

The patent is idiotic, the lawsuite is idiotic... I'll never buy from Amazon again and as a matter of fact, I specifically went to fatbrain.com to buy a book two days ago instead of amazon, just for this reason.

Re:Slow programmers? (4)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487096)

Amazon wasn't lying. Below you will find an excerpt from Jeff Bezos' own notes

25 manhours Implementing the system
25 manhours Debugging the new system
118 manhours Time (Jeff Bezos) spent on the golf course thinking about Amazon
480 manhours Touchy-feely focus group to evaluate the emotion evoked by the square button.
162 manhours Spent preparing Powerpoints to illustrate the new feature to Marketing
416 manhours Marketing has stuck their collective heads in their collective arses.
14 manhours (Bezos) Got blazingly drunk at a bar, spent the night in the drunk tank
480 manhours Marketing, who didn't like the Powerpoints, orders another 'focus group' They request chimpanzees this time, citing them as smarter than most AOL users.
90 manhours Marketing likes the new focus group results, takes the afternoon off to visit a strip club.
2 manhours (Bezos) Fired the entire Marketing department, and replaced them with the chimpanzees.
20 apehours The chimps have a meeting over brunch to discuss patenting their new business model.
100 manhours Time billed by patent laywer for an afternoon visit from the chimps.
275 manhours Time billed by patent attorney whilst in the Bahamas on vacation.
600 manhours The lawyer spends an evening drafting the patent documents. Goes back to the Bahamas, taking a friend with him.
50 manhours Time spent by the laywers secretary completing the patent documentation, filing them, calling the Patent Office, etc. The only real work in the patent process occured in this step.
170 apehours Patent was approved! (Bezos) Called a press conference, shmoozed the media, and had the marketing chimps call and harass our competitors.
-------------------------------
Tot al: 3,027 man/apehours

Re:End run (1)

danbeck (5706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487097)

I don't think they are missing the forest from the trees... this patent is utter bullshit and should be fought hard and long... I hope they win..

If B&N wanted to copy 1-click, they could at least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1487098)

If B&N wanted to copy 1-Click, they could at least do it correctly. Has anyone actually tried to USE their "ExpressLane" recently? What a piece of crap. The programmers at Amazon look like geniuses compared to the B&N chimps.

I have in the past used B&N ExpressLane successfully. But a few days ago:
(1) Select the book I want and hit ExpressLane.
(2) A new page comes up asking me for various personal details. I sigh at the fact that this info seems to have been purged at some point in the last few weeks and enter it again.
(3) I do NOT get any confirmation one way or another at this point that the book has actually been ordered.
(4) I go to the "My Account" page, look there, and see no book.
(5) So we hit the ExpressLane button again. Aha, now the book is accepted.
(6) So now the other books should be easy, right? No, the fun has just started. I go on to the next book, and hit ExpressLane.
(7) I get the SAME enter your personal info dialog which I fill out.
(8) As before, this does not actually result in my having ordered the book, so, as before, I hit ExpressLane again.
(9) Now I get, for the THIRD time, the enter your personal info dialog.
(10) At this point I say, screw this, and go to "My Account" with the intention of cancelling my order ad heading to Amazon. "My Account" now shows NOTHING in my ExpressLane purchases---my attempted purchase of the first book a few minutes ago has disappeared.
(11) Trying to be as thorough about this as possible I call B&N, explain all this, and ask what the status of my ExpressLane purchases are. I am assured there is nothing there.
(12) Needless to say, yesterday the book arrives in my mail---a duplicate now of a book I have already bought elsewhere.

So people, if you want to boycott Amazon go right ahead. Only be prepared to deal with more stupidity and incompetence you would have believed possible. Personally I will be doing all my book purchasing from Amazon from now on.

show your displeasure (1)

Foz (17040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487099)

I urge everyone who is displeased with this to write amazon some email and let them know exactly how you feel. I sent email to amazon [mailto] immediately after I first found out about their lawsuit and let them know that they had just lost a customer.

I also stressed that I was switching my business to Barnes and Noble, and why I was doing this. I then emailed Barnes and Noble and let them know that I supported them, that I was fleeing from Amazon and that I was now shopping from them to show my support. I then placed an order for a couple of books.

Don't just rant... I urge everyone to stop shopping at Amazon (and I've already put the word out to my entire family that any books they may buy me for the holidays better not come from Amazon). I also urge everyone to LET AMAZON KNOW just how pissed off you are. Please, BE POLITE, and BE ADULT, but also BE HEARD.

-- Gary F.

Re:preliminary injunction != major finding of fact (1)

kevlar (13509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487100)

Just a note...

The plantiff's case has merit ONLY because this patent was passed. A patent needs to be tested in court before its truely significant. This lawsuit is the test. If B&N loses, then thats evidence for a fugly patenting system. If they win, then the system is good (enough).

Re:This is kinda scary (1)

anatoli (74215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487101)

  • The thing is patented, which means it is fully disclosed to the general public. You can learn how it works; you're just not allowed to implement a similar system.
  • It is my impression that their system is insecure. If somebody steals your cookie file, nasty things can be done to you.
This post waits to be moderated down.
--

Amazon just lost another customer (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487102)

(Gak! KDE deveopers: please take note - my original post above was mangled by the KDE help browser-cum-webbrowser stripping all the html tags from the text in the preview screen edit box - PLEASE TRY posting to Slashdot yourself, you'll see what I mean. This is NOT the correct behaviour.)

Alright, this is probably going to be an unpopular post on a open-source haven like /., but I think that it's good that some of these companies have a way to protect themselves from competition.

The best protection from competition is to give great service to customers, offer great products at a good price. In other words, do what is best for the customer - people will pay money for that. When a company competes by hindering the operations of competitors it is doing something that is undeniably bad for society as a whole. In otherwords, it's a bad corporate citizen.

Not to mention that the patent in question is ridiculously obvious to anyone but a patent examiner and the judge and never should have been granted in the first place; this action should never have gotten to the point of an injunction.

I'd like to get on my little soapbox right now and say to Amazon: I'm a customer, I've bought books from you, but I never will buy from you again until you toss this stupid patent.

Re:This is kinda scary (1)

Artie FM (87445) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487103)



I have a friend who worked for a company doing reverse engineering at some point. My recollection is that it was legal under certain strict circumstances

The problem here is the confusion between copyright law and patent law. The are two completely different things.

Reverse Engineering is usually done because you can't copy something outright. Either you don't have access to the source, or even if you did copyright law would prevent you from using it in your app.

Where copyright law will only protect the actual code, patent law protects the entire method. Think of it this way. The telephone and light bulb have already been invented and covered with patents (ok vey old patents). Even if you created them completely from scratch they would still be covered by patents. The only way get around a patent it to not do what the patent describes.

In comparision a book like Stroustrup's "The C++ programming language" is covered by copyright. You could provide the exact same information as he did in a new book. As long as you didn't copy word for word it would be alright.

BTW, if you violate a patent it is possible to be held libel for triple damages.

O'Reilly not do business with Amazon? (1)

spyclub (121454) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487104)

because they are in the business of selling computer books, and Amazon shift VAST chnks of stock

It's more than the number of clicks (3)

elflord (9269) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487105)

Making it take two clicks doesn't mean that you no longer violate the patent. The patent is targetting storing user profiles in a database.

No Innocents in this Drama (1)

Uche (6766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1487106)

I stopped my rather voluminous commerce with Amazon.com back when Slashdot first posted the ludicrous patent claim, but I did not fly into the arms of B&N as a result. B&N are no better, and the only small comfort I draw from this silliness is that B&N are getting a taste of their own goods.

Remember when B&N first got into the .com market? They immediately tried to overcome the tremendous lead Amazon had built, not through better prices or service, but through a silly lawsuit enjoining Amazon.com from calling themselves "The World's Largest Bookstore". This in spite of the fact that Amazon.com stocked more titles than B&N (mortar or on-line). They claimed that since Amazon's "store" was virtual and the stock was all in a cheap wharehouse somewhere, that it didn't count.

So "no thanks" to both of them. I tried out Fatbrain [fatbrain.com] for the first time a fortnight ago, and I'm not sure I'd go back to Amazon if they repented and donated millions to the High-School Geek Defense Fund. Fatbrain is consistently as cheap as or cheaper than Amazon. I've heard similarly good things about Bookpool, but they didn't have several titles I wanted, so I went back to Fatbrain.

But I don't doubt that Fatbrain will do something as fat-headed as B&N and Amazon at some point and I'll have to look elsewhere as well. Oh well. Negotiis non capitem habet nisi pecuniam.

--Uche
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