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Amazon Patents Including a String at End of a URL

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the why-didn't-i-think-of-that-oh-wait dept.

Patents 306

theodp writes "On Tuesday, Amazon search subsidiary A9.com was awarded U.S. patent no. 7,287,042 for 'including a search string at the end of a URL without any special formatting.' In the Summary of the Invention, it's explained that 'a user wishing to search for 'San Francisco Hotels' may do by simply accessing the URL www.domain_name/San Francisco Hotels, where domain_name is a domain name associated with the web site system.' Here's the flowchart that helped cinch the deal."

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Wha? (5, Insightful)

shinma (106792) | about 7 years ago | (#21084129)

I'm not sure they even LOOK at patent applications anymore.

Re:Wha? (5, Informative)

KevMar (471257) | about 7 years ago | (#21084193)

yep, I have never ever seen this one before.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prior_art [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SomeStupidRandomSearchTerm [wikipedia.org]

Just one thing to keep in mind... (3, Informative)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 7 years ago | (#21084489)

When you apply for a patent, that's the day the prior art becomes effective. So if wikipedia did it after they filed, then that prior art would not count. Not saying it is not a stupid patent, but just wanted to point out, as a general rule, these things can take 5+ years to become live, so sometimes prior art comes around after a company starts using the patent-pending technology and others copy it.

Re:Just one thing to keep in mind... (3, Informative)

Known Nutter (988758) | about 7 years ago | (#21084627)

According to the patent text, the filing date was March 2004. Wikipedia (and many other sites) have certainly been using this method for years prior to that.

Re:Just one thing to keep in mind... (2, Informative)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 7 years ago | (#21084819)

When you apply for a patent, that's the day the prior art becomes effective.

TFA says (as near as I can tell) that the patent was filed in Mar 2004. I'm not sure how long wikipedia has handled search strings in the URL, but it was created in 2001 [wikipedia.org] . Actually, this is a pretty common and simple thing to do. I have a website that does it. I wasn't the one who set it up, but I think it was just a 404 redirect to a script.

Re:Wha? (1)

TwistedSpring (594284) | about 7 years ago | (#21084525)

Yeah except that isn't what they patented. If wikipedia worked with http://en.wikipedia.org/Priorart [wikipedia.org] then that would be an example of prior art.

Re:Wha? (1)

TwistedSpring (594284) | about 7 years ago | (#21084551)

p.s. that url should have had a space in it but slashdot's <URL:...> tag is incompatible with amazon's crazy patents.

Re:Wha? (3, Informative)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 7 years ago | (#21084583)

Yeah except that isn't what they patented. If wikipedia worked with http://en.wikipedia.org/Priorart [wikipedia.org] then that would be an example of prior art.

Did you test that link? It does work (after a redirect).

Re:Wha? (1)

pfleming (683342) | about 7 years ago | (#21084789)

Well the first one sort of works. But only because they have a page that matches exactly. The second one fails, because it doesn't return the searched for terms or a page with search results. The page instead returns, "we don't have and exact match, try searching for it". Did anyone miss that they just swapped the query with regular pages,

the system initially determines whether the character string includes a prefix that identifies the URL as a non-search-request URL. If no such prefix is present, the character string is used in its entirely as a search string to execute a search, and the results of the search are returned to the user.
So regular web pages have to start with the non-search prefix: this_is_not_a_search_page - or something stupid. Otherwise everything is searched for. This pushes the load onto the server instead of a single script or set of scripts. And yes, I realize you were being funny... but this patent is a joke.

Re:Wha? (1, Funny)

urlgrey (798089) | about 7 years ago | (#21084391)

If anything was ever evidence of a totally, completely, utterly broken patent system, this is it.

How in the world was this ever even submitted?!

There's SOO much prior art out there on this one, it's utterly laughable.

Oooohh.... I've got an idea: I'll patent anything that starts with http: and ends with .com that relies on... TCP/IP... Yeah! That's the ticket! That's how it happened. I was there...*


* with apologies to Jon Lovett

Re:Wha? (3, Interesting)

mashade (912744) | about 7 years ago | (#21084443)

* with apologies to Jon Lovett
That's John Lovitz [wikipedia.org] to you!

Re:Wha? (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | about 7 years ago | (#21084503)

How in the world was this ever even submitted?!

I think the flowchart makes that obvious.

During the course of the business day, most people will jot down notes about various things discussed during meetings or at informal cubicle conversations or whatever. Usually, these notes are kept for some period of time until they become no longer relevant, at which time they're either thrown out or shredded.

At my office, we throw such notes into little blue bins under our desks. The contents of these bins are then taken by a company who shreds them. In Amazon's case, the contents of the blue bins are apparently sent to the patent office.

So there you have it.

Re:Wha? (4, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 7 years ago | (#21084575)

the contents of the blue bins are apparently sent to the patent office.

Then I guess if I worked for Amazon they'd be submitting a patent application for "An old newpaper with mustard and grease stains." They'd probably get it too.

Re:Wha? (5, Interesting)

AmaDaden (794446) | about 7 years ago | (#21084491)

It makes me wonder if someone can just patent filing a patent and just make the system grind to a halt.

Re:Wha? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 7 years ago | (#21084535)

No, they just look at the check for the patent fee you submit with it.

Re:Wha? (2, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#21084667)

Fsck those Amazon idiots.

I'm patenting some_words.topical_search_engine_domain_name.com

I'm pretty sure I had that search-idea a few years back though. Even if it fails the prior-art test, it's pretty friggin' obvious to anybody who has ever used mod_rewrite.

My own website has two mechanisms very much like this patent and has had so for quite some time now; "file.html" requests are parsed by mod_rewrite, then send as a parameter to a PHP where the named page is loaded (and integrated in a template).
My photoalbum can take any name for a photograph, then finds the closest match to that filename, based on a number of search methods and shows it.
Atleast Amazon can't patent THOSE methods now, since I've published them :) Amazon seems to make a living patenting obvious ideas, makes you wonder why they never patent anything REALLY original.

Drupal module already doing this? (2, Interesting)

xanadu113 (657977) | about 7 years ago | (#21084141)

Isn't there a Drupal module that already does this?

Re:Drupal module already doing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084199)

most of the web does it.  get with the program.

Re:Drupal module already doing this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084411)

get with the program - use a monospace font

STOP POSTING NOW! (4, Funny)

twoboxen (1111241) | about 7 years ago | (#21084149)

I have patented putting characters in an ordered sequence. I'm calling it a SENT-ENCE. I'd ask for your thoughts on it, but I will of course need royalties.

Re:STOP POSTING NOW! (5, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 7 years ago | (#21084225)

I have patented putting characters in an ordered sequence. I'm calling it a SENT-ENCE. I'd ask for your thoughts on it, but I will of course need royalties.
atht edia scuks.

Response... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084349)

Yaaarrrrr! Try and stop me, me hearty!

No prior art and innovative? (1, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21084157)

Given that I believe most early applications had to have it after a ? and the straight text is a fairly new thing, they might have done it early enough to be the first to do it.

Having said that, is it innovative? I certainly never thought of doing it before I saw others do it. I was always happy with having it after a ? and typically formatted it so it was easier to get the information out of it. When I first saw it I thought to myself "Huh, that's pretty nifty, I wonder how they did it?"

As terrible as their one-click patent was, I think this might be a valid patent (as valid as any software patent can be anyway).

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

ben kohler (1109391) | about 7 years ago | (#21084235)

people have been using apache's mod_rewrite to do this for quite a while, haven't they?

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21084311)

Yeah, but when did Amazon first do it?

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

p3d0 (42270) | about 7 years ago | (#21084599)

Yeah, but when did Amazon first do it?
Legally? No earlier than August 23, 2003. They filed the patent on August 23, 2004, and in the US you have one year to file after inventing something.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

Loether (769074) | about 7 years ago | (#21084493)

you can also do it on a windows box. just have iis's deafault 404 error page point to a location with the cgi query string as a search term. I just did it on a clients website yesterday.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 7 years ago | (#21084237)

I've been doing this since 1998

Re:No prior art and innovative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084425)

Link or STFU.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 7 years ago | (#21084643)

You're assuming the website is still around, it's not.

so er stfu yourself

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1, Informative)

number6 (38954) | about 7 years ago | (#21084259)

Having said that, is it innovative? I certainly never thought of doing it before I saw others do it. I was always happy with having it after a ? and typically formatted it so it was easier to get the information out of it. When I first saw it I thought to myself "Huh, that's pretty nifty, I wonder how they did it?"
Java J2EE supports this out of the box, and has done so for a long time. You simply map a URL pattern to a servlet, and the servlet can use the URL as the data. Wiki sites like Wikipedia do pretty much the same thing (anything under wiki/ is probably just fed to a database lookup rather than directly to a page).

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 7 years ago | (#21084281)

Given that I believe most early applications had to have it after a ? and the straight text is a fairly new thing, they might have done it early enough to be the first to do it.

I wouldn't call this new at all. I have been using this sort of thing for a while. What you have here is a virtual directory or file. You take whatever is after the '/' and based on the nature of your program decide what this virtual path corresponds to. I have used this sort of thing, since in many ways it is a nicer URL to share.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21084347)

Newer then. It was newer then using the ? which is what I learned.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (2, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 7 years ago | (#21084359)

Hmmm... with your thinking process that goes: "I've never seen this. It's probably patentable!", you could have a good future working at the USPTO. Have you thought about applying for a position there?

Re:No prior art and innovative? (2, Interesting)

(H)elix1 (231155) | about 7 years ago | (#21084409)

Given that I believe most early applications had to have it after a ? and the straight text is a fairly new thing, they might have done it early enough to be the first to do it.

Not early enough. I have prior art in 2003... because my boss wanted exactly this sort of behavior. ISAPI extensions in C++. This was one of my first bits of web development - and if it was obvious to me then... well... I'd hardly call it novel. He did not want to type a ? or add in any search=... parameters. Just parse the url and use whatever text was there as the search string.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

neoform (551705) | about 7 years ago | (#21084437)

Prior art is not needed, they basically patented the concept of a URL used to request a search query, which really is no different than any other web request query. Basically what they just got patented is what us common folk know as a URL. Since amazon not only did not invent the URL, nor did can someone own a concept as basic as a URL, their patent is completely useless.

I have search query abilities like that on my website too, http://www.newsique.com/search/some_search_string/ [newsique.com] I'm not in the slightest bit worried of a lawsuit since it's such a garbage claim. Should they ever try to assert this supposed patent, it would be very easily thrown out.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

Morgon (27979) | about 7 years ago | (#21084555)

Yahoo Profiles (http://profiles.yahoo.com/RandomUser - apologies to the Orange County resident) has been doing this for at least 10 years now.

Re:No prior art and innovative? (1)

saforrest (184929) | about 7 years ago | (#21084725)

Given that I believe most early applications had to have it after a ? and the straight text is a fairly new thing, they might have done it early enough to be the first to do it.

I seriously doubt it. Apache has supported rewrite rules (that would allow you to rewrite some URL as a GET request) since at least 2000 or so, probably before.

Hell, isgay.com had dynamic page dispatch by subdomain working back in 2000-2001!

How else would you do it? (1)

sqldr (838964) | about 7 years ago | (#21084759)

Passing it unformatted is a lot less complicated than coming up with some clever coding system which possibly adds functionality.

If I want my application to search for a string, I would pass that string to it unmodified unless I had reason to do it otherwise. I wouldn't convert it to Chinese and back - that would be difficult.

Prior art? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084163)

The php website has done this for ages when searching functions. I am sure they have been doing it before 2004.

eg.

http://www.php.net/stupid%20patents [php.net]

Re:Prior art? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21084279)

When did Amazon "invent" it though? It was obviously invented before it was patented, but how long before? If it was before anyone else "invented" it, then it doesn't matter others did it with no influence (direct or indirect) from when claiming prior art (it might be significant in proving obviousness though).

Re:Prior art? (1)

hankwang (413283) | about 7 years ago | (#21084529)

When did Amazon "invent" it though? It was obviously invented before it was patented, but how long before?

The filing date was August 2004; in the American patent law, you have to file within one year after the first public disclosure. (In Europe, you can't file a patent at all after a public disclosure.) I think I've seen virtual URL spaces before August 2003, but I'm not sure about search requests. Note that the patent specifically claims having the search terms directly at the root of the web site, e.g. www.example.com/search+terms , unless it is specifically not a search term (e.g. www.example.com/welcome.html) For example, Wikipedia redirects URLs like http://en.wikipedia.org/url [wikipedia.org] to the URL article, but I don't know when they started doing that. They were certainly already doing that in 2004.

Re:Prior art? (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 7 years ago | (#21084549)

When did Amazon "invent" it though?

On the patent the filing date is given as "Mar., 2004". So I presume prior art needs to predate that date.

Uprising Needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084171)

Please firebomb your nearest patent office.

Not a bad idea... (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 7 years ago | (#21084177)

It's not a bad idea, but is it really patent worthy? Is no one else already doing this (prior art)?

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

JudicatorX (455442) | about 7 years ago | (#21084213)

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 7 years ago | (#21084427)

I didn't think of wikipedia, but that didn't do exactly what the patent describes judging from the flow chart. That attempts to go to a page, giving you a 404 error if it doesn't exist, and then takes you to a page linking to possible options (create the page, search etc.)

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

JudicatorX (455442) | about 7 years ago | (#21084579)

*sigh*

Had I linked to a topic that existed (instead of 'Of Course Not' as the search term... it's a joke: laugh) you would have been redirected to that page, instead of being directed to possible options.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 7 years ago | (#21084351)

Loads of people are already doing it as part of Apache's mod_rewrite (amongst other things). What worries me, though is:

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/792,405, filed Mar. 3, 2004 now abandoned, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.


It's a continuation of something they abandoned? You mean there was something similar requested as a patent earlier? That's worrying.

Re:Not a bad idea... (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 7 years ago | (#21084593)

But the filing date of that earlier application is Mar. 3, 2004 - so presumably that's the date which is relevant for prior art. If they have used this before they filed the patent, doesn't this count as publishing it, and thus makes the application invalid?

mod_rewrite (1)

Corsix (1178253) | about 7 years ago | (#21084191)

Surely there are loads of examples of mod_rewrite doing this kind of thing?

Re:mod_rewrite (1)

dosius (230542) | about 7 years ago | (#21084295)

I dunno about mod_rewrite, but Apache puts the extra in an environment variable, PATH_INFO.

-uso.

Is it just me... (1)

Rycochet (1006897) | about 7 years ago | (#21084197)

...or does that patent look like it expects everyone to start formatting URLs with a double-slash to *not* search... http://slashdot.org//index.pl [slashdot.org] anyone?

Robin

My patent (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 7 years ago | (#21084201)

I'm patenting a method where you click on a link and yo return a '404' for the first five minutes the link is avaialable. You leave some kind of message indicating you should try again, thereby increasing page views and advertizing rates.

Re:My patent (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 7 years ago | (#21084239)

I would have checked my spelling, but someone patented that already.

Re:My patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084537)

I would have checked my spelling, but someone patented that already.
I have a patent on not using a spell checker. Pay up, fucker.

Can you say mod_rewrite? (4, Insightful)

Se7enLC (714730) | about 7 years ago | (#21084217)

How is this not an obvious use of apache mod_rewrite??

Re:Can you say mod_rewrite? (1)

Fizzl (209397) | about 7 years ago | (#21084455)

I even tried tagging the article as "mod_rewrite", because before I had read the headline completelly that word came to mind.

obviousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084509)

I think one could argue that it is merely a rearrangement of known methods such as mod_rewrite in order to produce a predictable result.

This known method->predictable result has been established via case law as an indication of obviousness that would be necessary in order to invalidate a patent claim.

Prior art (2, Interesting)

futuramarama (687115) | about 7 years ago | (#21084231)

I'm willing to grant that the patents reviwers are probably too overloaded to be able to thoroughly search, or even to be all that savvy on all matters technical... But there really needs to be a better system for determining prior art - a way for them to put up a website saying: "hey, has anyone ever thought of using a pre-definined character in a url before?"

And then when that server crashed under the deluge they'd know that someone probably had.

It doesn't help that companies actually encourage their staff (this is a mobile phone company I'm referring to) _not_ to check for themselves before submitting a patent application. The reasoning was somethign along the lines of: if you know prior art exists then we can't legally make the submission, but if you don't know then we just might get the patent.

Re:Prior art (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21084757)

Isn't this the logic software developers use? Avoid looking at patents because if you knowingly infringe one and cannot defeat the patent then the damages increases dramatically? If its good for the goose.....

Truly a work of towering genius, that flow chart (2, Insightful)

Skrynesaver (994435) | about 7 years ago | (#21084243)

After intensive study of the proposed method in the flowchart, it appears to be an if statement.

While in some ways this story is a dupe of the , "Some fuckwit given exclusive right to picking noses in an obvious way" story that seems to run every second day, the US does need to do something about this in the short to medium term as it is having the opposite effect to that intended by the framers of the original patent legislation through being inappropriately applied to things wich are either not original or not inventions.

I fully expect to see a large contingent of genuinely innovative tech companies moving HQ over to Europe and refusing to offer patent indemnity for their USian users in the medium term if this sort of crap continues.

Stop this madness now as they say.

Re:Truly a work of towering genius, that flow char (1)

meadandale (605319) | about 7 years ago | (#21084477)

Pssh. Why is everyone giving Amazon a hard time.

Give it a REST [wikipedia.org] .

Amazon Business Model (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | about 7 years ago | (#21084245)


for (int i=1; i<rfc.length(); i++) {
      patent("rfc" + i);
}
profit();

Re:Amazon Business Model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084733)

You're missing either the first or the last RFC...

the monkeys have reached infinity (1)

Kryptic Knight (96187) | about 7 years ago | (#21084251)

get enough monkeys in a room with enough typewriters and somewhere along the line this kind of drivel comes spooling out.

Similar has already been done (3, Informative)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | about 7 years ago | (#21084261)

Similar implementations have already been done.

With Ruby on Rails, it uses a similar technique for discovering actions. It even has facilities for creating custom URL maps so what would normally come across as ?search=blah would get converted into /search/blah...

del.icio.us uses that for tag search (ie: http://del.icio.us/username/blah [del.icio.us] ).

For my internal invoicing system that I wrote in PHP (but never finished), you could search for invoices by going to /invoice/# or invoice/customer/[name or number] or search for customers using similar techniques.

The trick involves a .htaccess file that does a rewrite to a single catch-all if the requested URL does not exist. The app can then parse the request and infer what the user really wants, whether it's an action of a controller, a query or similar.

Although I've never seen this specifically applied to search (a la google), it's been used for filtering with tags (like del.icio.us).

stupid software patents.

Re:Similar has already been done (1)

thenextpresident (559469) | about 7 years ago | (#21084377)

PHP's documentation can be searched the same way. Just type in whatever you are looking up ('php.net/ mysql query' for example) and it searches the docs for it. More importantly, this existed prior to 2004 filing date.

See, patent of a idea clarified by a flowchart (1)

AppleTwoGuru (830505) | about 7 years ago | (#21084305)

So then how can a person with little or no money to throw at software can keep up with all hoops and processes of the law? This is how computers and programming evolve... copying and sharing of ideas. So the U.S. government just wants monopolies to form. Just screw the free-market system, screw the consumer, and screw the citizens that the U.S. is suppose to protect. Protect the interests of corporations at the expense of citizens' freedoms? George Bush needs to go.

That is why software patents need to disappear, since all someone has to do is come up with a flowchart, and the idea can be patented. And what makes one think that the flowchart is even accurate to the idea that the program expresses? Copyright law is ENOUGH protection. Copyrighting the code is enough.

Want to lock ideas up and stall innovation and take away freedoms of the people via taking away freedoms of the programmer? Just keep on doing what the U.S. is doing with software patents. Another step in the direction of the U.S. becoming the next U.S.S.R.

----
Bill Gates Supports Planned Parenthood - http://prolifepc.com/ [prolifepc.com]

Re:See, patent of a idea clarified by a flowchart (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 7 years ago | (#21084609)

That is why software patents need to disappear, since all someone has to do is come up with a flowchart, and the idea can be patented

That is why mechanical patents need to disappear, since all someone has to do is come up with a CAD drawing, and the idea can be patented.

Really, there's nothing wrong with software patents per se - it's just that the most egregious patent stupidity has involved software. But that's not to say that an innovative algorithm implemented in code instead of gears deserves any more or less protection.

Prior art example #5294190 (5, Informative)

matlhDam (149229) | about 7 years ago | (#21084321)

This slide [php.net] from a talk delivered in January 2003 describes the same idea of searching by URL content (listed under "Interesting Uses"). I don't remember being particularly surprised by the idea at the time, so I'm sure there's considerably older prior art, but this was the first thing that sprang to mind.

(Ignore the date on the top right, which always shows today -- the talk's date of January 22, 2003 is listed on the PHP talk index [php.net] .)

Re:Prior art example #5294190 (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#21084825)

That site seems to have anti-IE scripting, making the author and his work irrelevant since he values zealotry over reality.

Well almost like wikipedia (4, Informative)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 7 years ago | (#21084327)

Only, wikipedia search for the string in the URL is an option that is one click away.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain't%20it%20true [wikipedia.org]

If you ask me I'd use the wikipedia way, or the good old search box.
Because if you're typing into the address box in a browser, you're likely to have autocompletion. That means you're likely to start a search whenever you want to get back at the site, bad for the search engine.
Also your searches are accessible through your browsing history - as for all searches through get requests I think.

Having said that, this patent differs from the prior art of wikipedia by simply doing an additional step automatically. Where's the innovation, USPTO guys?

If you don't like it, boycott Amazon.Com (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 7 years ago | (#21084345)

The only way to get a reaction from boorish behavior in this industry is to hit someone in the wallet.

Don't like this seeming madness? Easy: don't shop at Amazon or any of its affilates.

Maybe they'll stop filing these things.

Perhaps there should be additional legislation that says that patent trolls, having been outed by prior art, should be forced into receivership. There's no spanking these satanic IP holders.

Re:If you don't like it, boycott Amazon.Com (1)

Aedrin (1175509) | about 7 years ago | (#21084405)

With the size of Amazon, that's very likely to go unnoticed.

Re:If you don't like it, boycott Amazon.Com (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 7 years ago | (#21084513)

Add one boycotter, to another, to another. Spread the word. Don't reward boorish behavior.

If I were to smith the slogans, they'd go something like: Don't Buy From Patent Trolls, or Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Bezos, or Amazon has Pirhanas, or the like.

Or maybe a nice RICO investigation would help, or better still, a nice anti-trust suit.

Uh oh... (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | about 7 years ago | (#21084353)

What about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prior [wikipedia.org] Art ?

Yes, with the ugly space in there wiki will ask you if you want to search for prior art. If you're smart enough to replace spaces with underscores, you'll get there on the first try.

That's mod_rewrite! (5, Informative)

Sandb (691178) | about 7 years ago | (#21084361)

Did they just patented mod_rewrite??? Tue Aug 24 06:55:44 1999 UTC (8 years, 2 months ago) baby! http://svn.apache.org/viewvc/httpd/httpd/trunk/modules/mappers/mod_rewrite.c?revision=83751&view=markup&pathrev=573831 [apache.org]

Re:That's mod_rewrite! (1)

HaydnH (877214) | about 7 years ago | (#21084631)

Mod rewrite was created in 1996 (and given to Apache in '97). (Source here: Just above TOC [apache.org] )

Amazon patents passing a variable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084393)

In C, you have to declare variables. In Python, the interpreter figures them out. It seems like the same thing to me. Amazon has patented passing a variable without explicitly declaring that it is a variable.

In other news ... (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 7 years ago | (#21084447)

Amazon.Com [amazon.com] patents selling things on-line.

A Modest Proposal. (-1, Offtopic)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | about 7 years ago | (#21084465)

How's about the industry teporarily stop trying to patent crap and instead focus on:

(1) Adobe works on making Acrobat less than a huge PITA.

(2) Apple fix QuickTime's TIFF viewer so it works on the images at the US Patent office site? Only been broken for three years or so.

(3) The other free TIFF viewers fix their manifold flaws and foibles regarding speed, imaging, scaling, printing, etc.

just a Modest Proposal.

I can't wait until my patent (1)

sdkramer (411640) | about 7 years ago | (#21084475)

for obviousness comes through. It's gonna be so awesome.

Slashdot Patent (1)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | about 7 years ago | (#21084481)

I think the owners of Slashdot should patent: A method for fanboi's to digitally express their opinion without proper knowledge, or even reading referenced information.

Re:Slashdot Patent (1)

StarfishOne (756076) | about 7 years ago | (#21084587)

Did you just describe Facebook, MySpace and similar social networks? ;P

Re:Slashdot Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084613)

Sure, and I'll patent my dipshit detector. It will start with a simple pattern match of oh-so-clever terms, like "fanboi".

Oh, great.... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | about 7 years ago | (#21084485)

...for years, we've been trying to explain to the clients that spaces have no place in URLs, and these yoinks go an' mess it all up...

Just a custom 404 error page (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 7 years ago | (#21084505)

Uhh... it's not that hard to do.... I've been doing it on sites I build by using a custom 404 page that grabs the url string and explodes it into parts (whether it's a single string or a / delimited url) and passes it to the site search with the end result being a page that says, Sorry we couldn't find what you're looking for, here are some possible matching pages." Then a list of search results with the string components as keywords.

This is certainly a useful thing to provide to your users as an error page but from a usability POV, you shouldn't be directing people to search this way. It's unintuitive and confusing to have multiple paths to do a search.

Embarrassing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084523)

This patent is just an embarrassment for The USPTO, the primary examiner Chong H Kim, Amazon/A9, and the so called inventors of this patent, i.e. Jassy; Andrew R. (Seattle, WA), Manber; Udi (Palo Alto, CA), Leblang; Jonathan (Menlo Park, CA). Funny fact: this patent's filing date is August 23, 2004; so it has taken the USPTO three years to examine it!

So /. agrees that Amazon & Co are our new patent trolling overlords, yes?

it has not patent number (3, Insightful)

pbhj (607776) | about 7 years ago | (#21084573)

It doesn't appear to have been granted yet. I imagine it's probably at "search" stage wherein the search examiner has issued their preliminary report with citations.

Anyhow Google URLs are acknowledged prior art. The idea is to use simply a free-form string of 1 or more words to perform a search. Wikipedia isn't a spot on citation (though it would help to refine the main claims) as, for example, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/write an article" simply leads to a page which allows a search to be performed. Granted that's not a huge inventive step but in such a well worked field it is significant.

What I'd be considering is for example the use of mod_rewrite (or similar) to perform a "search" in alternate directories if a file is not found with the specified name. At least the claims would need to be more specific as to what constitutes a "search".

So wikipedia isn't a spot on citation ... anyone want to cite documentary evidence from before 3 March 2004.

They won't enforce (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#21084589)

I think these patents are so obviously flawed, they will be challenged and overturned the minute they try to enforce it. I have a hunch Amazon knows it too and they will use it only to brag, "We have a portfolio of 123 patents" as part of their presentations to investment brokers and stock analysts. But still, we definitely need some form of patent reform.

It's called Path Info (1)

Tiger Smile (78220) | about 7 years ago | (#21084623)

Path info is the information beyond the end of a URL. I've often used extra text at the end of a URL to search or check which page. I'm not sure when Apache's PATH_INFO variable was first introduced, but I first started using it back in 1998 I believe. Lately I have had a better idea, AliasMatch. I use that directive use a single script to front either an application or an entire site, or even multiple sites.

AliasMatch "^/[^\.]*$" "/some/php/file.php"

Within PHP you can choose a page to display based on the URL called, or you can display a search page if nothing is found.

I'll have to see if I can locate an good prior art to match this. I sure hope this 1-Search patent does not have to stand for long.

Flowcharts (4, Funny)

stu42j (304634) | about 7 years ago | (#21084635)

Flowcharts can be very useful and convincing [toothpastefordinner.com] .

LOL (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#21084677)

Sorry... Does anything more need to be said?

OK, lets talk inflation.

Inflation of the money supply, inflation of grades, inflation of patent numbers, inflation of job titles...

It's really all the same thing. The more there is of something the less any individual item is worth. Money, grades, patents. Yet the vast majority seem to have some significant difficulty with that concept. More is better than less. Thing is, you don't actually have more, you have less but with a bigger number. Interesting. I wonder if there's a level of I.Q. where people simply can't understand that concept... Maybe they'll be happy when they earn a zillionty dollars per year each, have a PhD and are titled "Captain of the World".

By creating thousands, tens of thousands of patents you aren't actually producing anything of value, you're simply throwing doubt on the value of all patents.

Real value is relatively unrelated to inflation. The economy only grows for real (real stuff like chairs, tables, cars) at a couple of percent a year. Real academic achievement is still hard, only a small proportion are up to it and only a small number of patents are really innovative and being captain of the world doesn't help much if you are still sweeping streets.

Essentially, inflation is deceit. People who inflate are at the very best, liars and more usually swindlers planning fraud.

Visual Style (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | about 7 years ago | (#21084685)

I don't care about those patents, they don't affect me (yet). But I just love the style with which they are illustrated. That flow-chart is beautiful.

Software patents bad. Software patent drafters though...

USPTO is the problem here (3, Insightful)

eck011219 (851729) | about 7 years ago | (#21084721)

It's a given that big corporate entities like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and all the others are going to try to patent everything they can. It's been discussed here before, and it's just a cold war effect -- if you're the only company NOT trying to patent everything, you lose. It's a dumb way to run a world, but there you go.

But the USPTO is the problem. Granting a patent like this just reinforces the grabby, greedy behavior of the big companies and creates an environment where companies are pitted against each other not in services or products but in ownership of intellectual property. If my company can get the edge in my industry by patenting something my competition uses (prior art be damned), there are going to be a bunch of businesspeople and attorneys within my company (not to mention shareholders) who are going to insist I file the patent. It's up to the USPTO to call bullshit on these things, and it's not doing it.

Not to mention that the big companies seem to get these things to go through while little guys seem to come up empty when they try to do it. If you have enough attorneys, you can pretty much do anything anymore. But that's a rant for another day ...

Amazon creativity (1)

Pipaman (1172207) | about 7 years ago | (#21084769)

This is the second best invention after the one-click-shopping.
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