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USPTO Rejects Amazon's One-Click Patent

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the well-at-least-there's-some-sanity dept.

Patents 166

igdmlgd writes "A while ago I filed a reexamination request for the Amazon.com one-click patent and recently checked out the USPTO online file wrapper -it seems they have rejected all the claims I requested they look at and more!" And it only took many many years to remove what would have been obvious to the most incompetent web developer.

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Register Article (5, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#21009843)

here is the printer friendly version [theregister.co.uk] of an article with some good info. about this over at the Register.

Re:Register Article (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 7 years ago | (#21010191)

That article makes it pretty clear, I think, that the rejections doesn't mean all these things are ruled obvious enough not to be patentable. Some of the claims were rejected because they were covered by other patents still in force. That some of the claims can't be claims in this patent because they had already were patented by others does not mean they were rejected for lack of novelty nor that they are not patented by the other parties holding those patents.

Eight of them did fall, in fact, from a Steven Levy article in NewsWeek, so that's a good thing. A good way to keep obvious things from being patented is to have an expression of the idea copyrighted first.

Re:Register Article (4, Informative)

PatentMagus (1083289) | about 7 years ago | (#21010421)

When a previous patent is used for a 102 (novelty) rejection it does not mean that the invention was already patented, only that it was disclosed. It is patented only if it is claimed by the prior patent. Usually, the rejection is based on the prior patent's specification but not it's claims. Sorry, haven't researched deeply enough to see what was claimed in the prior art for one-click.

Also, "copyright attaches when pen goes to paper". What you meant was that a good way to keep the obvious from being patented is is to have an expression of the idea published published first. The prior art has to be published and available. It also helps if the published work is a printed one. I'm currently trying to get some videos admitted as prior art, but am not sure how it will go.

Interesting, but not great (3, Interesting)

PatentMagus (1083289) | about 7 years ago | (#21010233)

I'm not too excited by this non-final rejection. A quick edit will revive claims 1 and 11. After that, every claim that depends on claims 1 and 11 will also be allowable. It'll only take a few hours of attorney time to make most of the claims allowable. I'm sure that they'll battle over the claims that remain rejectable though.

What was interesting, to me, is that there were so many 102 (novelty) rejections. In patents, novelty rejections mean "super obvious". Oh well, claim 1 got rejected on a 102 and will be put in allowable form easily enough.

I really liked that a Bezos patent was used for some of the obviousness rejections. That was cute.

Re:Interesting, but not great (1)

omeomi (675045) | about 7 years ago | (#21011511)

What was interesting, to me, is that there were so many 102 (novelty) rejections. In patents, novelty rejections mean "super obvious".

And it only took, what, like, half the lifetime of the patent for the USPTO to discover and reject them...I'd hate to see what they do with the merely "plainly obvious"

Apple gets a refund ? (1)

j_l_cgull (129101) | about 7 years ago | (#21010351)

Or would that be store credit ?

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (2, Interesting)

J-1000 (869558) | about 7 years ago | (#21010457)

I'd like to know this too. What happens when a company licenses technology based on a patent that is later rejected?

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (4, Interesting)

zsouthboy (1136757) | about 7 years ago | (#21010697)

AFAIK, diddly squat.

The company that liscensed the patent goes "It's all the PTO's fault!!11 one", and there's not much anyone can do. If the liscence involved a per-device fee, you can stop paying that, but anything you've already paid is gone.

IANAL

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (4, Interesting)

bstone (145356) | about 7 years ago | (#21011673)

IMHO, fixing that would go a long way towards fixing the patent situation. If the patent holder had to pay back all licensing and attorney fees for a patent ruled invalid, the patent holders themselves would be far more careful in asserting rights for "inventions" that are not likely to stand up to scrutiny.

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 7 years ago | (#21012331)

If the patent holder knew that the patent was invalid when it filed it, e.g. if it failed to disclose prior art, then the licensee could presumably sue for fraud.

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (1)

TrentC (11023) | about 7 years ago | (#21011653)

IANAL, but I'd guess that they don't have to renew the license. Other than that, nothing.

It's not like Amazon never had a patent, only that (some?) of its claims have now been rejected. If Apple used 1-Click in its Apple Store without licensing the patent from Amazon, Amazon would have every right to sue.

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (2, Interesting)

Tim Browse (9263) | about 7 years ago | (#21012117)

Depends on the license/contract I believe - I seem to remember that Hitachi(?) had a clause in their patent license with Rambus that if Rambus' patents ever got thrown out, Hitachi got their money back.

But I imagine that's tricky to get into a contract.

Re:Apple gets a refund ? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | about 7 years ago | (#21012161)

It depends on the particular contract drawn up between the 2 parties.

Given that 'one click' was under heavy attack for obviousness, I think Apple would be pretty dim not to have included a 'pay us back if it's invalidated' clause in the deal.

Don't forget that the terms of Apple's deal with Amazon were never made public. Apple may well have said 'here's $1, give us a license and we'll shut up about all this prior art our lawyers found, so you can go on pursuing other companies, ok?'.

Huh? (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 7 years ago | (#21009847)

So, recently we heard that the One-Click Rejection was rejected [slashdot.org] , which has now itself been rejected and now the one-click patent has been totally rejected?

I read that there was a rejection review during which the rejection examiner found prior art that was obvious. This however was not the case and so the rejection was rejected and now I hear this guy making claims that some of his obvious prior art is infact obvious and should be counted on so the patent is now invalid.

What I don't understand is What is a Wookie doing on Endor?

Can someone give me one thing I can click which will explain this whole thing?

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about 7 years ago | (#21009993)

No clicking required here! Wookiees fight the Empire. The Empire is on Endor. Therefore, a Wookiee is on Endor to fight the Empire!

Huh, no-click answers. I should patent that...

Re:Huh? (4, Funny)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#21010035)

Can someone give me one thing I can click which will explain this whole thing?

I could, but I'd have to get your promise that you'd click twice to get to it...at least until this whole thing blows over.

Re:Huh? (4, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | about 7 years ago | (#21010133)

Here [stanford.edu] you go. It's a decent summary of the situation, albeit not the most in-depth.

You can take a look at the original patent [gnu.org] , too, but that would require a second click.

Re:Click me!!! (1)

theantipop (803016) | about 7 years ago | (#21010215)

Child Continuity Data 09/151,617 filed on 09-11-1998 which is Patented claims the benefit of 08/928,951 09/318,447 filed on 05-25-1999 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951 10/194,602 filed on 07-12-2002 which is Patented claims the benefit of 08/928,951 11/410,998 filed on 04-25-2006 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 08/928,951 11/610,619 filed on 12-14-2006 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 08/928,951 11/618,452 filed on 12-29-2006 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951 11/751,483 filed on 05-21-2007 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951 90/007,946 filed on 02-16-2006 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951 PCT/US98/18926 filed on 09-10-1998 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951 The wonder that is CIPs (continuation in part).

Re:Click me!!! (1)

theantipop (803016) | about 7 years ago | (#21010251)

Oh god, I'm sorry for that. Reformatted below...

Child Continuity Data
09/151,617 filed on 09-11-1998 which is Patented claims the benefit of 08/928,951
09/318,447 filed on 05-25-1999 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951
10/194,602 filed on 07-12-2002 which is Patented claims the benefit of 08/928,951
11/410,998 filed on 04-25-2006 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 08/928,951
11/610,619 filed on 12-14-2006 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 08/928,951
11/618,452 filed on 12-29-2006 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951
11/751,483 filed on 05-21-2007 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951
90/007,946 filed on 02-16-2006 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951
PCT/US98/18926 filed on 09-10-1998 which is Pending claims the benefit of 08/928,951

I bolded the application the article you linked refers to. Also read about continuing patent applications [wikipedia.org] which this history represents.

Re:Click me!!! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 years ago | (#21010535)

Oh well that's better!

It's still babble no matter how you format it.

Living close to his food source... (1)

crovira (10242) | about 7 years ago | (#21010455)

What else would a Wookie be doing on Endor?

It's an Ewok farm.

Re:Living close to his food source... (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 7 years ago | (#21011585)

Does he eat the Ewoks, or something far more sinister?

Yeah, I can't find where the USPTO said "Rejected" (1)

KWTm (808824) | about 7 years ago | (#21010579)

FTFA:

To view information on this request, please go to the USPTO PAIR access site [uspto.gov] , choose "Control Number" in the drop-down box, enter: 90/007,946 and press the "Submit" button.
I did as requested, and just got a status screen that said, "We have taken action. It's not final." It doesn't say what the action is. Another tab shows a timeline of action, such as "Checked the data from the re-exam requester," etc. but doesn't say what the result is. It looks like some of those links are to a file that might say what the result of the action was, but I don't have time to download go through that right now. Does anyone have the actual ruling from the USPTO that confirms that the claims were rejected?

Hmm, come to think of it, maybe I'll check Groklaw later on when I have the chance.

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

happyslayer (750738) | about 7 years ago | (#21010899)

Wookie version of midget porn [google.com] ?

Re:Huh? (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 7 years ago | (#21011081)

Actually, what was rejected was the rejection for the rejection of the rejection of the rejection of the patent.

Hope I cleared this up for you...

too late! (-1, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 7 years ago | (#21009849)

Bush is still the most idiotest president of the united states of cre(a)ti(o)nism !

What did they reject? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21009867)

Did they reject the patent or your request to re-examine the patent?

The most incompetent web developer? (0, Troll)

sokoban (142301) | about 7 years ago | (#21009877)

Who's the most incompetent web developer? The people at myspace?

Sorry! An unexpected error has occurred.
This error has been forwarded to myspace's technical group.

And now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21009879)

As much as I hate our sue-happy system, it's too bad that people who amazon extorted money out of these last few years can't sue Amazon. Perhaps that would make some people think twice when they attempt to patent the hammers and nails of the digital world.

Not quite... (5, Informative)

theantipop (803016) | about 7 years ago | (#21009883)

There was a non-final rejection mailed on October 9. There is still at least one more round of prosecution before Amazon's lawyers decide to choose any number of paths to continue prosecution beyond a final rejection.

Items 1 and 11 (2)

Evets (629327) | about 7 years ago | (#21009885)

From the Rejection letter -

The Patent Owner is also advised that claims 1 and 11 would be considered to be patentable if they were amended to recite providing a shopping cart model that in response to performance aof an ad-to-shopping-cart action, sends a request to the server system to add the item to a shopping cart within the main body of each claim and change the subsequent recitation of "a shopping cart model" to the shopping cart model.


I'm not sure what claims 1 and 11 are though. Maybe someone else can ferret that out.

Counter sue? (1)

EvenClevererNickName (1172663) | about 7 years ago | (#21009923)

If this is all for real, now would be a good time for those who have been threatened or damaged by this patent to counter-sue - try and break the patent-troll business model..

Re:Counter sue? (5, Informative)

jcr (53032) | about 7 years ago | (#21010007)

Chances are that anyone who's paid up for a license from Amazon is SOL, since the contract would almost certainly include a provision that they can't sue even if the patent ends up getting spiked. Anyone who hasn't executed a contract with Amazon, but has incurred expenses in defending themselves might be able to recover some damages.

-jcr

Re:Counter sue? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#21010055)

Why? Amazon did nothing illegal. While they were suing, they had a valid, approved patent. Amazon has not broken any laws or contracts.

Re:Counter sue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010263)

While they were suing, they had a valid, approved patent. Amazon has not broken any laws or contracts.

I bet you feel sorry for the guy who gets killed while holding up the bank with a fake gun, too.

Re:Counter sue? (2, Insightful)

AmaDaden (794446) | about 7 years ago | (#21010533)

I would guess on the grounds that the Amazon was aware that the patent was obvious and were just out to hurt competition and make a quick buck. Anti-Monopoly stuff. Hard stuff to prove but they might just be able to pull it off. It would be a nice president too. It would make people think twice before trying to enforce a dumb patent.

Re:Counter sue? (2, Insightful)

illumin8 (148082) | about 7 years ago | (#21010365)

Chances are that anyone who's paid up for a license from Amazon is SOL, since the contract would almost certainly include a provision that they can't sue even if the patent ends up getting spiked. Anyone who hasn't executed a contract with Amazon, but has incurred expenses in defending themselves might be able to recover some damages.
Sucks to be Steve Jobs and Apple and realize that you've been licensing 1-click for iTMS for years now when it wasn't even a valid patent...

Re:Counter sue? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 7 years ago | (#21010891)

"Available for your projects at great expense and inconvenience!"

I'd never ask you to go to great expense or inconvenience on a project.... I might even pay you something and lend you a few tools to get the job done ;-p

Yes I am a cold-hearted bastard who will twist your words so far around you'll think that I was the one who came up with them and that you've somehow broken the law by repeating them.... = you can use that BTW (I *promise I won't sue) *promises made on /. are subject to change, please see my website for up-to-date legal promise terms and conditions.

Oh no you didn't!!!! (1, Funny)

WwWonka (545303) | about 7 years ago | (#21009931)

You big snitch!

I am NEVER inviting you over for Xmas to show you my collection of Cuban cigars, black cable box, 120 Gigs of MP3s, hundreds of burnt DVDs, my ex-girlfriend buried in a shoebox in my backyard, nor my collection of tags I have cut off of mattresses over the years!

Re:Oh no you didn't!!!! (2, Funny)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 7 years ago | (#21010073)

my ex-girlfriend buried in a shoebox in my backyard
so is she a Barbie doll or blow-up doll?

Re:Oh no you didn't!!!! (1, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 7 years ago | (#21010105)

my ex-girlfriend buried in a shoebox in my backyard

Your girlfriend was a hamster?

Re:Oh no you didn't!!!! (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | about 7 years ago | (#21010361)

And he smells of elderberries. But don't tell his son, who's a knight in England.

It's a new millennium (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 7 years ago | (#21012261)

It's a new millennium... Don't judge!

Re:Oh no you didn't!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010499)

It's only the store that is prohibited from removing the mattress tags. The end user is free to do what he or she wants.

FINALLY! (1)

jcr (53032) | about 7 years ago | (#21009977)

About freaking time.

-jcr

Obvious... (5, Interesting)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 7 years ago | (#21009991)

"And it only took many many years to remove what would have been obvious to the most incompetent web developer."

You know, I think it's unreasonable that patents can so greatly reduce people's freedom to create things, for fear that some of it may infringe upon some fairly trivial patent... Obvious or not, it places an unreasonable burden on developers, to use what they've learned except for those things they've learned about which are patented.

But was Amazon One-Click really "obvious" before they adopted it? I mean, the whole idea of
1: Storing user information (pretty obvious and common)
2: Launching a user order as soon as they click "buy it" (Not too challenging, except for the other issues that #3 solves)
3: Ensuring that situations where a user accidentally orders something can be readily corrected by the user (basically boils down to giving them the opportunity to back out)

It's easy to say the idea is obvious once someone else has thought of it and presented it to you - but was it "obvious" to people before Amazon did it? If so, then why was Amazon the first?

Re:Obvious... (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21010019)

What I've heard is that it was considered by many and rejected as a security risk. Back then having to enter in your CC number and details was considered a security feature. If Amazon managed to store this data securely in an innovative way that part should have been patented, not the whole thing.

Re:Obvious... (2, Informative)

jcr (53032) | about 7 years ago | (#21010047)

But was Amazon One-Click really "obvious" before they adopted it?

Yes. That's why everyone was so upset about it.

-jcr

hindsight (1)

ProfBooty (172603) | about 7 years ago | (#21011117)

i'm not saying that it would have been an obvious solution at the time of invention. however just about everything seems obvious in hindsight.

thats the problem examiners have, particularly if they look at applications 5+ years after filing.

Re:hindsight (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | about 7 years ago | (#21012311)

Amazon's patent amounts to "putting a button on a web page that the user can click to buy what he has selected." That's it. This isn't a matter of hindsight or anything, it's a matter of being just another one of the vast sea of bullshit patents that are only allowed into the system because they append "but do it with a computer" to an utterly facile idea.

Re:Obvious... (1)

Tack (4642) | about 7 years ago | (#21010067)

It's easy to say the idea is obvious once someone else has thought of it and presented it to you - but was it "obvious" to people before Amazon did it? If so, then why was Amazon the first?
I think that's the wrong question. All obvious things are done by somebody for the first time at some point.

Re:Obvious... (2, Insightful)

encoderer (1060616) | about 7 years ago | (#21010223)

Amazon was the first because they were around when the number of .com's was measured in the thousands, maybe even hundreds. But you put 100 different companies in Amazons shoes in that point in time and I bet that the large majority of them would implement a similar feature. That makes the patent fail the "is it obvious" test.

Re:Obvious... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 7 years ago | (#21011531)

It isn't so much "would have implemented" as "could have implemented." The latter is what establishes the obviousness...

They weren't the first (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010249)

Amazon wasn't the first, that's why it got rejected. Someone else described the ideas before them.

And honestely, if you can't come up with a button-to-order-really-fast yourself, there is something wrong with you.

Why was Amazon the first to file such a patent? Because the internet online business wasn't big back then. That's all.

Re:Obvious... (2, Insightful)

JetScootr (319545) | about 7 years ago | (#21010269)

If you read the RFC for HTML buttons, etc, you'll find that purchasing things on the click of a button isn't just obvious, it's one of the often-used examples of what buttons are for. Buttons are there so the user can initiate an action that does something for them.
User thinks "Buy that". GUI and database go kachunk kachunk kachunk.
In the programmer's view, ANY button click will call many functions, almost every time.
Where does the programmer stop calling functions? Why, when the app has done everything needed to accomplish what the user asked for.
What's unobvious is stopping in order to force the user to push buttons unnecessarily.

I think you forget how OLD Amazon is. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 7 years ago | (#21010317)

Amazon got started very, very early in the history of the Web. When I first started using Amazon, I was using Lynx. I am not sure whether Netscape 1.0 was even available yet; my recollection is that it was not, and that I tried and failed to get Mosaic to run.

When I first started using Amazon, I never even ordered books from them. I was too chicken. I had never ordered anything electronically before. I'm ashamed to say that I just used them as a handy online way to access Books In Print and look up ISBN numbers so that I could order them from a bookstore (at the time nobody would have bothered to say "brick-and-mortar bookstore").

I don't think I even need to say that it was a dialup connection, but perhaps I need to say that to the best of my recollection it was a 9600 bps connection, as 28K modems were new and expensive.

When I first ordered from Amazon, I certainly didn't give them my credit card electronically. I phoned them. Oh, wait, a phone is electronic, isn't it? Well, you know.

I give Amazon a lot of credit for virtually inventing online commerce as we know it. I remember admiring the "shopping cart" metaphor. I don't know if they were the first to use it, but they were among the first.

That doesn't mean that the shopping cart metaphor isn't obvious. It is obvious, but it is only obvious as the solution to a problem. Ditto one-click ordering.

Amazon was among the first companies to try to attack the problems of online commerce, so of course they were among the first to encounter some problems, and thus the first to see the nevertheless obvious solutions.

Re:Obvious... (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 7 years ago | (#21010391)

It's easy to say the idea is obvious once someone else has thought of it and presented it to you - but was it "obvious" to people before Amazon did it? If so, then why was Amazon the first?

People trot out this same argument every time a bogus patent gets discussed. The main reason in this case was that Amazon was one of the first businesses that was involved in Internet transactions. Nobody did it before because nobody needed to solve that exact problem. That still doesn't mean that the solution wasn't obvious; it just means that the problem didn't exist. You don't deserve a monopoly just because you're one of the first people in a new market.

IMO, the laws for patentability ought to be changed to fix this problem anyway. I say that if something is obvious, even in hindsight, then it shouldn't be patentable. There are plenty of patent claims that I understand after seeing, but which certainly can't be called obvious, even in hindsight. That should be where the bar is set.

Re:Obvious... (2, Informative)

hawk (1151) | about 7 years ago | (#21012279)

>I say that if something is obvious, even in hindsight, then it shouldn't be patentable.

The shaving cream can was challenged as obvious. The court agreed that it was, *in hindsight*, obvious, but the fact that the competitors had spent *millions* trying and failing to achieve the same thing showed that it was not obvious.

hawk

Re:Obvious... (2, Interesting)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 7 years ago | (#21010397)

In fall of 1999, I was working on "patsgold.com". They were getting some orders, and I noticed that there were a lot of repeat customers. I came up with the idea to allow people to set up their account such that items added to their cart would automatically be submitted as an order an hour or two after the last item was dropped into the cart. That way, they would have time to go back and remove something that they didn't want, and at the same time, it would be unlikely that it would create multiple orders where only one would do.

It was one-click shopping.

Right before I started implementation, a story came out about Amazon's new patent for one-click shopping. At the time, I had never even looked at amazon.com, I came up with the idea independently of anybody else's implementation. But I was unable to use the idea because Amazon had run down and suckered the USPTO into giving them a patent.

Far from spurring innovation, this patent killed it.

Re:Obvious... (4, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | about 7 years ago | (#21010409)

but was it "obvious" to people before Amazon did it? If so, then why was Amazon the first?

Someone is first to do everything, and that includes obvious things.

Re:Obvious... (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 7 years ago | (#21010491)

Engineers are trained to solve problems.
Managers submit problems to engineers.
Engineers find a solution to solve the problem.

Only bad engineers solve obvious problems. Give two good engineers the same problem, there is a high probability that they will come up with the same solution.

The idea that only the first one to solve the problem is allowed to use the solution is just nonsense.

Re:Obvious... (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 7 years ago | (#21010855)

The idea that only the first one to solve the problem is allowed to use the solution is just nonsense.
Well said...

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010801)

A bar tab was obvious in the 90s. Even if you did add the appropriate 'on the computer' to make it patentable.

Re: Obvious... (3, Interesting)

BBandCMKRNL (1061768) | about 7 years ago | (#21010809)

It's easy to say the idea is obvious once someone else has thought of it and presented it to you - but was it "obvious" to people before Amazon did it? If so, then why was Amazon the first?
This is one of those "... on the internet." obvious bogus patents. The only difference between this and something that was common many, many years ago is doing it on the internet. You walked into the General Store, said hello to the owner, picked out items, told the owner to put the items on your tab/bill and walk out with those items.

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010921)

Don't forget other odds & ends such as combining your 1-click items from a session into a single order.

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21011727)

You know, I think it's unreasonable that patents can so greatly reduce people's freedom to create things, for fear that some of it may infringe upon some fairly trivial patent... Obvious or not, it places an unreasonable burden on developers, to use what they've learned except for those things they've learned about which are patented.

Yep. That's why the League for Programming Freedom [mit.edu] says that "nobody should be able to dictate what kinds of programs you can write."

Re:Obvious... (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 7 years ago | (#21012409)

"It's easy to say the idea is obvious once someone else has thought of it and presented it to you - but was it "obvious" to people before Amazon did it? If so, then why was Amazon the first?"

Uhhh, because there has to be a first time for something, even obvious things?

+5 hero (0, Redundant)

siddesu (698447) | about 7 years ago | (#21010005)

igdmlgd writes:

"A while ago I filed a reexamination request for the Amazon.com one-click patent and recently checked out the USPTO online file wrapper -it seems they have rejected all the claims I requested they look at and more!" And it only took many many years to remove what would have been obvious to the most incompetent web developer.

About time (1)

redmond_herring (839209) | about 7 years ago | (#21010037)

Finally, some sanity is slowly creeping back into our patent system.

Posted this... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010049)

.. with a single click. Muahaha, take that Amazon :P

Re:Posted this... (1)

threaded (89367) | about 7 years ago | (#21010359)

Nah, I'm pretty sure it took at least 4 clicks. Well it did to me to get this far.

Patent was for a result, not a process or design (3, Informative)

ThinkThis (912378) | about 7 years ago | (#21010051)

This patent was for a result rather than a process or a design. The concept of "1-click" just means better performance. It would be like giving Car company a patent on a 70 MPG car, or Starbucks a patent on getting $5.00 bucks for a cup of coffee.

Re:Patent was for a result, not a process or desig (2, Interesting)

theantipop (803016) | about 7 years ago | (#21010333)

In order for a process to be patentably eligible subject matter it has to produce a tangible result. What this really means in cases like Amazon's gets confusing as hell, because while reading 35 U.S.C. 101 and it's various court interpretations over the years it becomes obvious that computers operate in a way completely unimagined by those who drafted the Constitution.

Re:Patent was for a result, not a process or desig (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 7 years ago | (#21011205)

Fortunately it's not the Constitution that describes patent law.

Re:Patent was for a result, not a process or desig (1)

aztektum (170569) | about 7 years ago | (#21011865)

computers operate in a way completely unimagined by those who drafted the Constitution.
Logically? Which is the opposite of how humans typically operate.

Consider the Constitution being written in a time before guns. Suddenly guns come along. Do you write up new laws saying "Don't kill someone with a gun?" One would assume killing in general to be wrong.

What usually happens is legislating computers and their use is less about serving the public good and instead about propping up a businesses bottom line. Outside that, I see little to "legislate" computer use. Computer fraud is fraud, copyright infringement is still copyright infringement. I have a hard time seeing a distinction between using a computer to facilitate it or not, thus I see computer centric laws ridiculous.

Re:Patent was for a result, not a process or desig (3, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 7 years ago | (#21010867)

That is probably the best summation of what can go wrong with software patents I've heard in a while. I find nothing wrong with a guy who invents a more efficent algorithim getting compensated, but most patent applications are not "a specific method to solve the travelling salesman problem that happens to be O(n)," but instead "the concept of solving the travelling salesman problem in O(n), an example of which is given."

Re:Patent was for a result, not a process or desig (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 7 years ago | (#21011337)

BINGO!!!!

IANAPL (I am not a patent lawyer), but my understanding is that a patent is supposed to cover "how to do something", not "doing something".

In software, it's like the difference between requirements and design. Requirements is "what" -- the idea. Design is "how", the implementation. IIUC, patents are supposed to cover the "how" only.

Well, darn. ;) (1)

capnkr (1153623) | about 7 years ago | (#21010137)

There goes one of the best examples of patent idiocy, no longer able to be used for illustrative purposes when describing to non-techies why we need patent reform.

Too bad, in that sense, but it's about time that one of the most glaring examples of the prevalent idiocy was cleared up. :)

Re:Well, darn. ;) (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 7 years ago | (#21010443)

Erm, we still can use it and show that we need patent reform to prevent another such patents.

Damn (3, Funny)

iceZebra (1148629) | about 7 years ago | (#21010169)

This probably means that my intention to patent my shopping system of opening a 2nd checkout in busy periods will fail.

Re:Damn (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21010185)

You'd still be able to extort quite a bit of money from people first. Although it has to involve the internet or it won't get approved. I wish I was kidding.

Clearly (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21010187)

This is a big win for us.

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Whys a lawn sprinkler so racist? Listen to what its always sayin - spic-spic-spic-spic-CHINK-niggerniggerniggernigger

Does this mean (2, Funny)

MECC (8478) | about 7 years ago | (#21010225)

That the patent office is now hiring people that can read?

Premature Pronouncements of Victory? (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | about 7 years ago | (#21010239)

I'm pretty sure we haven't heard the last word on this one yet, guys. I bet there are still a few more avenues of appeal left for Amazon to pursue.

Re:Premature Pronouncements of Victory? (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | about 7 years ago | (#21010599)

Why would they appeal? I mean seriously. They just got shot down on both obviousness and possibly prior art.

Re:Premature Pronouncements of Victory? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 7 years ago | (#21010909)

Um, that's exactly why they would appeal.

Whine enuf and you win (0, Troll)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 7 years ago | (#21010611)

> And it only took many many years to remove what would have been obvious to the most incompetent web developer.

And this is a truly embarassing, sad development.

The fact remains that it was not obvious to sell a thing without a confirmation popup. Oh, now it is. Because of efforts like that.

But back then, no programmer would ever sell a thing with one click for fear the user accidently clicked the button. That this fear is, perhaps, unfounded, and in any case is a slightly different business model is the innovation that was not obvious .

I don't understand why it's so hard to "get" this.

Re:Whine enuf and you win (2, Insightful)

delt0r (999393) | about 7 years ago | (#21011033)

It was invalidated on the grounds of prior art, you know, already thought of by others before the filing date. It was obvious enough when others thought of it that they did not run down to the patent office.

In fact if something is obvious why do i need to publish or do anything with the idea, its obvious. The requirement that everything that is obvious should either be in some public archive or already patented is laughable.

Are you a patent lawyer by any chance?

Re:Whine enuf and you win (4, Informative)

IBitOBear (410965) | about 7 years ago | (#21011235)

Actually it was extremely obvious. It was also considered an extremely bad idea. Anybody who has ever mis-clicked anything will know why it is a bad idea if they take a moment to generalize their knowledge.

Its a bad idea for exactly the same reason that most erase features of most operating systems erase to a clipboard or a trash folder of some sort.

See, people click on and mis-operate all sorts of things in all sorts of circumstances.

Amazon is simply big and slow enough to be able to afford to do a ship-and-return or a block-that-order action when the customer screws up. It was also well-funded enough that it could operate at a loss for something like three years from startup and not die outright.

Smaller, more responsive, less funded business would have gone bankrupt long ago. And such businesses could never have survived under the onslaught of "I didn't order this $3,000.00 flat screen so you credit back my card immediately and I'll get this back to you once you send me a shipping label" type calls.

One Click Shopping is bad business in most uses, so people didn't design their web pages that way till the "big players" came in with a lot of financial ballast.

"Do it in fewer steps" (e.g. in one step, e.g. without asking "are you sure") is _always_ obvious and is almost _never_ implemented because people screw up. And when it is implemented someone usually gets fired because its hard to teach people that they _should_ slow down and double check before they do something (a) expensive, (b) irreversible, or (c) embarrassing.

Consider: Didn't you think to double-check that order before you just (a) fired the nuke, (b) ordered a whole shipping container of toilet paper for a one-stall bathroom, (c) sold off the entire calculator division of HP, (d) fired everyone in human resources. (etc.)

Re:Whine enuf and you win (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 7 years ago | (#21012029)

"such and such isn't a bad idea" isn't patentable. "such and such" is patentable, but "such and such isn't a bad idea" is just a business decision.

"Method for entertaining a cat" is patentable. "Whether or not to entertain a cat with this method" is not.

Re:Whine enuf and you win (2, Insightful)

FailedTheTuringTest (937776) | about 7 years ago | (#21012251)

back then, no programmer would ever sell a thing with one click

The way you say no programmer would ever do it suggests to me that every programmer knew and understood the concept (i.e. the idea was obvious and widespread), but that companies judged it unwise to do so. So maybe Amazon had the courage to try it, but that's not what patents are for. You get a patent for inventing a clever new kind of parachute; you don't get a patent for being the first one to jump with it.

well yes and errr, no (5, Interesting)

paulbd (118132) | about 7 years ago | (#21010623)

I helped to start Amazon (I was the 2nd employee there). I've spoken out against the 1 click patent in the past. However, this comment "And it only took many many years to remove what would have been obvious to the most incompetent web developer" is not the reason why the patent should be permanently rejected. 1 click shopping was "new" at the time - if it was obvious, we would have done it right from the beginning on the web site. The issue with 1 click is not whether or not it was obvious to a web developer. It is whether or not business method patents that fundamentally simply map a practice in the non-online world ("put this on my account") to the online world ("1 click") should be permitted.

I don't believe that they should, and I am glad to see the patent struck down.

Re:well yes and errr, no (0)

delt0r (999393) | about 7 years ago | (#21011215)

Given that it was stuck down from prior art seems to indicate that perhaps it was a little more obvious than you think. Not only did someone think of before hand, but they did not presume it patentable. Also I always wondered what "clicks" get counted.

Re:well yes and errr, no (1)

splict (1024037) | about 7 years ago | (#21011223)

[...]1 click shopping was "new" at the time - if it was obvious, we would have done it right from the beginning on the web site. The issue with 1 click is not whether or not it was obvious to a web developer. It is whether or not business method patents that fundamentally simply map a practice in the non-online world ("put this on my account") to the online world ("1 click") should be permitted.[...]

While I agree with your reasoning for why it should be struck down, I disagree that obviousness is not an additional reason. Mapping a simple concept from the "non-online world" to the "online world" seems like a prime example of obvious.

Re:well yes and errr, no (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21011631)

"first to use" is not a counter-argument to "obvious". In a new field like that it is more likely that even basic stuff wasn't done yet due to simple lack of time and resources.

Obvious to the most incompetent web devloper... (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 7 years ago | (#21010841)

IMHO, the real test is "Could they use this technology without revealing how it worked?". The thing you get from the patent office should be an exchange. We give you this funny monopoly right, you tell everybody in plain English how it works. If there is no exchange, no monopoly right should be granted. Amazon's 1-click patent fails that test completely. There is no way they can use this technology at all without it becoming obvious to the world what's up.

Many things seem obvious after you learn about them, but you would never in a million years have thought of it. So obviousness is a very fuzzy criteria.

Re:Obvious to the most incompetent web devloper... (2, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | about 7 years ago | (#21011285)

The thing you get from the patent office should be an exchange. We give you this funny monopoly right, you tell everybody in plain English how it works.

In that case the explanation would have been:

It uses cookies. DUH!

Using someone else's invention (cookies) to do specifically what that invention was designed to do (recognise returning customers) is not something that even the most retarded patent examiner should have considered for a second.

EVERYONE knew how 1-click worked as soon as they heard of it for the simple reason that lots of people were already doing it and simply had never thought they could patent somthing someone else had invented and left to the public domain.

TWW

can't decide which its a sign of (1)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | about 7 years ago | (#21011345)

a. a sign of the apocalypse
or
b. a sign of the anti-apocalypse

either wsy i guess there is hope.. as long as it wastes time money and a year or two first.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21011695)

No free books for YOU, igdmlgd. Also please expect to have to click at least a million times next time you order something from Amazon. We know who you are.

you fAIL it!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21012211)

Kreskin fil3d coun,tersuit, up my toys. I'm
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