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Amazon Sneaks One-Click Past the Patent System

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the stealth-mode-activated dept.

Patents 104

theodp writes "By changing the word 'a' to 'the' and adding the phrase 'purchasable through a shopping cart model,' lawyers for Amazon.com have apparently managed to reinstate two of CEO Jeff Bezos' 1-Click Patent claims that were rejected a month earlier. 'Patent Owner's Rep was informed that the proposed addition to the claims appear to place the claims in condition of patentability,' writes the USPTO in its Ex Parte Reexamination Interview Summary of the 11-15 conference call that was held with five representatives of the USPTO and patent reformer Amazon."

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Ack! (1, Informative)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21447961)

What about obvious to the expert part ?

Re:Ack! (0, Redundant)

Devv (992734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21447991)

"By changing the word 'a' to 'the' and adding the phrase 'purchasable through a shopping cart model"

Clearly they would have needed an expert on the english language.

Re:Ack! (3, Informative)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448003)

Obvious to an expert is not a barrier to patent. The invention must not be obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Ack! (4, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448235)

would that be a normal web developer or a normal database admin? because, the db admin will not be surprised regardless of the amount of data you throw at a button.

anyways, we can use one click checkouts as long as they have nothing to do with the shopping cart model right?

gentlemen I'd like to introduce the shopping 'list' model, which differs from the shopping cart model in that all items *must* be 'listed' on the page the shopper is browsing, allowing them the immediate convenience of seeing their purchases at any given time, furthermore I'd also like to patent the one click to "hand your butler the shopping list" purchasing model, where the butler is an AI avatar that essentially completes your shopping, the actual process of filling your shopping cart and checking out, for you. fuck you amazon! now we have a butler, do you have a BUTLER?!? hmm, this actually wouldn't be bad if the butler was capable of shopping at more than one site, and finding good prices on stuff, just for good measure I'll copyright this post.

all references to 'shopping list', 'one click butler avatar', and the term "fuck you amazon! now we have a butler, do you have a BUTLER?!?" are copyrighted by cyphercell (843398) © and will be defended to the full extent of the law if my lawyer thinks it's worth it

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448677)

Just invent your own vocabulary and you're sure not to infringe any patents.

No, your patent is for a one-click shopping cart on a web site, we are not doing that. We have single-press html form submission elements and customer acquisition list in our online HTTP catalog. As such we fail to see how the two are related.


That's all the bother that patents on intangible non-inventions deserve.

Re:Exactly (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448793)

Just invent your own vocabulary and you're sure not to infringe any patents.
Except their lawyers are better than your lawyers and you're still gonna pay.

This had nothing to do with changing a few words in the patent and everything to do with money being spread around in the right places.

I'm telling you, we are the ones being consumed.

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448951)

so, is there a case for suing the patent office when they approve a patent that conflicts with one in existence?

Re:Ack! (2, Informative)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450629)

Regarding your "shopping list model", I suggest you read up on the doctrine of equivalents [wikipedia.org] . Changing what you call it does not get you anywhere.

DMCA TAKEDOWN BIATCH!!! easier than I thought! (3, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450969)

DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT

1. Detailed identity of the copyrighted work that I believe has been infringed upon. This includes identification of the web page or specific posts, as opposed to entire sites. Posts must be referenced by either the dates in which they appear or the permalink of the post
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=368407&cid=21450629 [slashdot.org]

2. Identity of the material that I claim is infringing upon the copyrighted work listed in item #1 above.
'shopping list model'

3. Location of the author copyright notice (for information).
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=368407&cid=21448235 [slashdot.org]

4. Information to permit our company, the provider, to contact you.
http://slashdot.org/~cyphercell/journal/188515 [slashdot.org]

5. Statements
Reproduce the next statements:
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials (didn't you see the © - that's real shit man) described above on the infringing web pages is not authorized by my registered copyright and by the law (gimme money, money, money, bwahhahah). I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is infringed.
cyphercell (843398)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA#Example_of_DMCA_Takedown_Provision [wikipedia.org]

I hate to ask (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21447965)

I'd hate to present this as an option but is it able to be reviewed again after they snuck more bogus crap back in?

Re:I hate to ask (2, Insightful)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448061)

Without convincing prior art to show, it is highly unlikely that the USPTO would grant another review.

Re:I hate to ask (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448377)

How much more convincing prior mouse clicks does the USPTO need? Good grief.

Prior art? (3, Interesting)

Devv (992734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448015)

Couldn't anyone who gets sued because of this claim that the previously rejected patent is prior art?

Re:Prior art? (4, Informative)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448049)

No, absolutely not. The previously rejected patent is not a different patent from the one that is apparently now being allowed...actually, I think it is just specific claims that were rejected and now modified versions of those claims are being allowed. In any case, none of the prior iterations of the patent can server as disabiling prior art for the final version of the patent. Even if there were previous patents from Amazon that had parts of the invention, this one could have been filed as a continuation of the earlier patents to avoid prior art issues. With the latest changes and allowance by the USPTO, this one looks good, meets the requirements and is very likely to stand.

No, that's not right. (4, Funny)

warrax_666 (144623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448523)

The previously rejected patent is not a different patent from the one that is[...]

Let's see:

The previously rejected patent is not the different patent from the one that is[...]

There. Fixed that for ya.

Something's missing (2, Funny)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448637)

The previously rejected patent is not the different patent from the one that is[...]
Something's still missing...hmm

The previously rejected patent is not the different patent from the one that is purchasable through a shopping cart model.
There. Fixed that for ya.

Re:No, that's not right. (2, Informative)

eggbert.net (217798) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448973)

The addition of "a shopping cart model" in the first clause of the claim necessitated the change of "a" to "the" in the last clause to make sure it had the correct "antecedent basis."

In claim drafting, you must first introduce a word or concept with "a" or "an" and then you refer back to it with "the" or "said." If you do not the claim will not be allowed.

The change from "a" to "the" did not magically change the claim from being invalid to allowable.

The wheel (3, Funny)

sig97 (651312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448029)

I better hurry patenting the wheel before it's too late... the one purchasable through a shopping cart model that is.

Re:The wheel (3, Funny)

FlameboyC11 (711446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448045)

No no no, it's one purchasable through *the* shopping cart model.

Re:The wheel (3, Informative)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448075)

Well, seems like someone beat you [bbc.co.uk] to that.

Lawyer moves to patent wheel

An Australian man has registered a patent for a "circular transportation facilitation device" - more commonly known as the wheel.


More at CNN [cnn.com] .

Re:The wheel (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448101)

I better hurry patenting the wheel before it's too late... the one purchasable through a shopping cart model that is.

That should be:

I better hurry patenting a wheel before it's too late... the one purchasable through a shopping cart model that is.

Re:The wheel (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448141)

I better hurry patenting the wheel before it's too late... the one purchasable through a shopping cart model that is.
I better hurry patenting a wheel before it's too late... the one purchasable through a shopping cart model that is.
I better hurry patenting a wheel before it's too late... the one purchasable through the shopping cart model that is.

Re:The wheel (1)

sig97 (651312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448255)

Oh no, you beat me to it!
Now I need a patent for posting a sarcastic remark through the Slashdot comment model and sue you guys for royalties.

Re:The wheel (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449535)

Now I need a patent for posting a sarcastic remark through the Slashdot comment model and sue you guys for royalties.
Now I need the patent for posting a sarcastic remark through the Slashdot comment model and sue you guys for royalties.

Re:The wheel (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450173)

I think I should get a patent on replying to Slashdot comments by repeating the content of the post answered to, except for replacing "a" with "the".

Re:The wheel (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21451327)

I think I should get the patent on replying to Slashdot comments by repeating the content of a post answered to, except for replacing "the" with "a".
I think I should get the patent on replying to Slashdot comments by repeating the content of a post answered to, except for replacing "the" with "a".

Re:The wheel (2, Funny)

rishistar (662278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448547)

Hopefully virtual shopping cart wheels have less of a will of their own than their real life counterparts.

there was more to it... (4, Funny)

MrAndrews (456547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448051)

The real news is that this revision was just a means to an end [pttbt.ca] , and apparently the patent office fell for it...

Re:there was more to it... (1)

anthonys_junk (1110393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450801)

Thanks for that, love the books :-)

Once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448057)

Do you want to get a good car? Use some Open Source alternative.

:facepalms: (5, Funny)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448067)

Will the last sane person in government please switch it to runlevel 6? But run rm -rf /home/uspto first please.

Re::facepalms: (2, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448257)

Will the last sane person in government...
No such thing, as government is where asylums send all patients too loony for them to handle.

Re::facepalms: (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448397)

No, asylums are where the government sends loony people when it runs out of space for them. At that point, they usually appropriate more tax dollars to build additional loony bins (aka "government agencies.")

Re::facepalms: (1)

mux2000 (832684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21451603)

I'm afraid the only thing that'd work is wipe and a clean install.

You forgot the biggest step... (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448119)

Which is to push a lobbist of some sort to get this thru... This is so obvious that I suspect someone got a promise for something to allow it thru... I mean, It is the American way after all!!

Abuse of the system (1)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448133)

If this isn't illegal, it should be.

Re:Abuse of the system (4, Informative)

justzisguy (573704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448363)

Where is the abuse of the system here? Amazon is playing by all the rules set forth by Congress [cornell.edu] and the Patent Office [uspto.gov] . If prior art is found that reads on their claim, they amend the claim by adding more limitations (making it more specific) so that the claim overcomes the art rejection. The new limitations generally come from the dependent claims and must have adequate written description in the original patent application.

The /. posting is very misleading. First, the claim was amended with a further limitation "purchasable through a shopping cart model," to an already lengthy claim. The change of "a" to a "the" cleans up the antecedent basis problem (i.e., which shopping cart model is the last line referring to, the same one of line 3, or a different one). Second, this claim is still not in condition for allowance! The patent examiner looked at the new limitation and agreed that it probably overcomes the art currently rejecting the claim. He still gets to closely re-read the art of reference and conduct additional search before he can determine whether the claim is allowable.

And finally, I want everyone to look at the claim, not the title of the patent, and then, without impermissible hindsight, get to work finding prior art to read on the claim. Just saying that a single click of the mouse is obvious makes you look dumb. That's your homework for this week, now get to work!

Non-trivial step above prior art? (1)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449057)

Given the prior art on the old patent, I tend to doubt there was an inventive step (i.e. it wasn't non-obvious) in the 'invention'. Of course this is much harder to prove, so Amazon can unfortunately count on getting awaay with it.

What 1-click is and why it shouldn't be patentable (4, Informative)

g2devi (898503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449531)

"One Click" shopping is an e-commerce technique, which allows a customer to purchase products via the Internet without repeatedly entering personal information such as name and address. At the time it was introduced it eased the frustration of on-line shopping.

The problem is, the whole reason cookies were created was precisely to enable on-line shopping:
http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2109.txt [ietf.org]

So soon after the RFC was *announced* Amazon requested a patent for doing what the RFC was specifically designed for. If you ignore the sleeziness of the action, it would be virtually impossible to find prior art since no implementation was possible before the standard was approved. And even if an early implementations of cookies existed, since Amazon was one of the few e-commerce site out there at the time, there would be virtually no chance of finding another prior art implementation.

Now you could go to the real-world analogy of going to a friendly store and pointing at a bunch of things and saying "Charge it", but since it's done by "a computer" it magically turns into a completely different thing.

Re:Abuse of the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449617)

Anybody who finds a big difference between an "a" and a "the" just has to be a lawyer...

Re:Abuse of the system (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450231)

Anybody who finds a big difference between an "a" and a "the" just has to be a lawyer...
I was thinking the same thing - then I noticed the poster's username is "justizguy" - how appropriate for a lawyer to misspell justice. I think that about sums up the american justiz system...

Re:Abuse of the system (1)

justzisguy (573704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450655)

Hmm, never saw the "justiz" reading of my name. I had always thought of JustZisGuy, as in I'm "just zis guy, ya know?", from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [imdb.com] . I'm certainly not a lawyer nor do I have any formal legal training (I am a computer engineer, however).

Re:Abuse of the system (1)

justzisguy (573704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450719)

While I am not a lawyer, the difference between the two is quite clear [wikipedia.org] . One is an indefinite article, the other is a definite article. Since claims need to be very clear in their meaning (even while the terms are vague, we need to know who does what to whom), we need to know which object we're talking about, the one that was previously mentioned or a new one. Getting back to the articles and my original comment, the change of "a" to "the" was not what Amazon was changing to overcome the art rejection, it merely was to agree with the new limitations. Which shopping cart model? The one that did the displaying of information.

Re:Abuse of the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449843)

Just saying just saying that a single click of the mouse is obvious makes you look dumb, makes you look dumb. Cuntbubble.

Re:Abuse of the system (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450561)

saying that a single click of the mouse is obvious makes you look dumb.

Why?

Re:Abuse of the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21450911)

Actually, the claim reads on the prior art

Broken System (4, Insightful)

Rainbird98 (186939) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448137)

The present system of patents is totally broken. It appears to exist for the promotion of lawsuits and legal fees rather than achieving true innovation.

Re:Broken System (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448199)

shhhh don't tell everyone

Re:Broken System (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448225)

The system is broken? Yes. Does it promote lawsuits and massive fortunes? Yes.

BUT!

In a way, it does promote innovation. The companies that find themselves halted by the existence of a particular patent are forced to one of the following

a) either they innovate in such a way that they get around the problem by creating some new service/product/technique to achieve the same, similar or an acceptable substitute result or
b) they innovate in the language and law research by using legal rabbit holes to circumvent existent patents

Re:Broken System (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448383)

Now that companies that do nothing but sue people based on patents they acquired are getting more and more attention, one can hope the entire absurdity of the system as it is serves as an argument to restructure it.

Patents are not inherently bad. Bad patents are.

Re:Broken System (2, Insightful)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450867)

That's like saying that DRM encourages innovation by causing people to create cracks for it, or that computer viruses encourage innovation in antivirus programs. While both of these statements are true, they don't necessarily mean that innovation is a good thing. In general, I don't think there's a net benefit to society from a company pointlessly having to come up with a new way of doing something that we already know how to do. What the patent system does is create obstacles to progress, and then say it must be good because it's making us pointlessly innovate to work around these obstacles.

Re:Broken System (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21452269)

that was precisely my point with my previous post... it was seeded with a few drops of irony. While it is true that many good things have come up from this type of competition, it is also true that many good things have been shelfed exactly because of the same reason.

Hold on a minute ! (1)

A_Lost_Frenchman (1034456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448175)

Nobody ever thought of cheating the patent office in this way!
__
A Lost Frenchman

Re:Hold on a minute ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448233)

Perhaps not, but Amazon did think of cheating the patent office in that way!

Re:Hold on a minute ! (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449403)

Whelp, we can't patent it. Amazon now has prior art.

We shoulda thought of that sooner...

It depends on what the words 'is' means (2, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448215)

A previous president apparently set a precedent...

Thank you very much!

Boycott Amazon (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448265)

If you have an account, cancel it "due to my disagreement with your 1-click patent that stiffles innovation".

Who dares to put his money where his mouth is?

Ah hah... I supposed.

Re:Boycott Amazon (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448357)

I've been boycotting Amazon since the patent was first awarded. Haven't we all been doing that? The boycott was a big deal for nerds back then. What, did the rest of you get out-waited by Jeff Bezos?

(My money isn't where my mouth is, though: it's in my pocket; my mouth is on my face.)

Re:Boycott Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21451555)

Indeed. Every once in a while, I forget why I don't shop at Amazon, and around that time, I'm reminded by a news event, like Amazon continuing to fight for its silly patent. I mean, really, what part of "use cookies to keep track of the customer's data" is non-obvious.

I like the layout of Barnes and Noble more anyway. Green and brown is so much less garish than Amazon's Boardwalk-Hotdog-vendor colors, for instance.

Of course, they don't have quite the huge selection of goods that amazon has and their "wishlist" is unnecessarily limiting, but ehy, what're you gonna do? Buy crap from a cheezy carnival vendor just because they're big?

Slugs do as slugs does. Calling RMS! (1)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21451249)

Amazon.com?

Hmmm I knew that those sneaky sons of a ... were up to something.
Has RMS weighed in on this yet?
AMAZON Sucks for two reasons: ( 2++ reasons actually )
1. The whole "We're patenting prior art" on "One click shopping"(tm),
2. It hurts the local book stores. ( I *LOVE* my local book stores. )
and
3. Amazon does not get me out of the house to meet cute chicks at said local book stores.
( no one on the internet knows: A) Your a Dog, and WORSE B) you shop at Amazon )

I canceled my account there years ago, after RMS boycotted them.
I got an account there about 2 years ago, but NEVER PAID THOSE ***** A DIME.

==Rant over==
RMS? RMS? Calling RMS?

Re:Boycott Amazon (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21452149)

I, too, disagree with Amazon's behaviour in patents, yet won't cancel my account because:
  • Amazon does have the best prices for books, period. Until recently, book prices round here were even regulated and could could easily be double what Amazon asks for. As soon as my disposable income rises to amounts allowing me to not care about this, I may or may not stop shopping at Amazon.
  • Amazon does have the greatest selection of all bookstores near me. I see it's not a fair comparison, but ordering at Amazon will usually be just as or sometimes even faster than backordering at a local bookstore. If I need a fun read to pass some time, I'll happily shop local, but for programming references and the like, bookstores just don't cut it.
  • Amazon delivers to my doorstep. Some local stores will do that too, but with Amazon it tends to be quicker and easier.

the only reason you guys hate amazon is (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448329)

the only reason you guys hate amazon is because they don't sell fag pr0n. fucking faggot linux fags.

Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448349)

This comment is probably just a waste of virtual breath, but I'll give it a try anyway:
Here on Slashdot, it looks like everybody enjoys conflating the issues of 1) whether we should have software patents at all and 2) whether the subject matter of this patent is obvious or not. It may be way too late for any meaningful discussion of this patent here on Slashdot, but keeping those two things separate would help out there.

So I'd like to make an argument here, and see if I actually get any constructive responses: I really don't think that it was obvious or anticipated by any prior or *at the time that it was filed.* It was filed on September 12, 1997. How many people on here remember the state of internet commerce back in 1997? This idea was pretty innovative at that time. (Now that it's been used for 10 years, it's pretty obvious.)

I'd also like to point out (and see if I get any constructive responses) that this patent isn't that broad, and not worth of the fear-mongering it has induced over the years. Here's the first claim of the patent (I added the numbers):

1. A method of placing an order for an item comprising:
1)under control of a client system,
2) displaying information identifying the item; and
3) in response to only a single action being performed, sending a request to order the item along with an identifier of a purchaser of the item to a server system;
4) under control of a single-action ordering component of the server system,
5) receiving the request;
6) retrieving additional information previously stored for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request; and
7) generating an order to purchase the requested item for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request using the retrieved additional information; and
8) fulfilling the generated order to complete purchase of the item
9) whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model.

If your e-commerce site leaves out any one of those 9 clauses, you're not infringing. For example, if you're using a shopping cart ordering model, you're not infringing (look at part 9 there, you have to have a shopping cart ordering model to be within its bounds).

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21448495)

Web cookies were invented in 1994. This was an example of their use by 1995.

I dunno, will you? (2, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448541)

I'd also like to point out (and see if I get any constructive responses) that this patent isn't that broad, and not worth of the fear-mongering it has induced over the years. Here's the first claim of the patent (I added the numbers):

You can't determine how broad a patent is by counting how many elements a claim has. Most of the elements of the claims of the Amazon patent don't limit the claims. Despite your verbal acrobatics and distortions, the patent is broad.

(And those are not "claims" those are "elements".)

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (3, Insightful)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448791)

The listing of nine items just makes it seem more complicated than it is. Infact this is a bunch simpler than the shopping cart model. It just eliminates the shopping cart altogether and procedes straight to checkout. How is this particularly innovative? The shopping cart system came along and was considered innovative, now taking it away is innovative? Get a grip.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (4, Insightful)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448807)

Of course, if you have a shopping-cart ordering model, then it's not a one-click buy.

Let's break that down with some specifics:

1. A method of placing an order for an item comprising;
1) a web browser
2) a web page about an item
3) where pushing "buy now" causes the web browser to send a "buy this item now" message to a web server
4) a web server
5) receives te request
6) looks up the purchaser's credit card number
7) creates an order for that purchaser in the order processing system which ...
8) Processes the order
9) all without a shopping cart

I suggest that the only potentially novel thing here is #3. And, I suggest that #3 is obvious -- the only reason that nobody was doing it before hand was that nobody had previously considered the problem of reducing the number of clicks it takes to get somebody to buy something.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449019)

Moreover, the problem was not that no one had previously considered the problem, but that everyone figured people would be scared to trust a website to remember their payment information, and to allow purchases with it without a login/password. It had nothing to do with technology and everything to do with people becoming more comfortable with trusting a website with their payment information.

This was in NO WAY a technological innovation, it was simply Amazon realizing that some people would be willing to trust Amazon and their web browser with their payment info.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449769)

I can't imagine what kind of idiot would actually buy things with one-click. It's like impulse buying on the internet, never a good idea for the consumer.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

neil-ngc (1019290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448867)

The two issues get conflated because Amazon's one-click patent - which really is an obvious development, not an innovation - is an excellent example of why there shouldn't be software patents, doubly so if it does finally clear all the hurdles.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

ReeceTarbert (893612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449015)

If your e-commerce site leaves out any one of those 9 clauses, you're not infringing.
I might be wrong, but I don't see that many elements that an e-commerce site could leave out and still be fully functional. Actually, #1 to #8 are pretty much essential and #3 in particular is extremely broad and potentially troublesome:

3) in response to only a single action being performed, sending a request to order the item along with an identifier of a purchaser of the item to a server system;
Your run-of-the-mill cookie is commonly used to identify a purchaser (at least broadly speaking) and any shopping cart is using them in some way or another.

For example, if you're using a shopping cart ordering model, you're not infringing
This is really the heart of the patent, where they're basically preventing anyone else from coming up with alternatives to shopping cart, given #1 to #8 above.

Anyway, we're getting so carried away here that we're forgetting that this story is no about the patent per se, or patents in general, but the sleight-of-hand used to reinstate the 1-Click patent -- patent lawyers, don't you just love them?


RT
--
Your Bookmarks. Anywhere. Anytime. [simplybookmarks.com]

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

justzisguy (573704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449243)

Anyway, we're getting so carried away here that we're forgetting that this story is no about the patent per se, or patents in general, but the sleight-of-hand used to reinstate the 1-Click patent
Where is the slight of hand here? Amazon's patent lawyers are trying to add additional limitations to overcome the art rejection set forth by the patent examiner. That's how patents work (not simply software patents). The inventor comes up with a new widget, broadly defines the widget in a series of claims, and through a back and forth with the Patent Office, settles upon how broad the claims can be and still be novel and non-obvious over the prior art.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449173)

Nice, informative post - but the fundamental problem remains - why on earth is this kind of patenting even considered? Why should you have to spend time turning what is, on the face of it, a pretty obvious way of doing online commerce into a lengthy list of "do's" and "don'ts". The answer is of course the lawyers *rolleyes*....

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (3, Insightful)

nothings (597917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449205)

5 Insightful? WTF.

One-click was always trivially obvious to anyone and everyone who'd had anything to do with anything even remotely like thinking about the problem.

Received wisdom was that one-click was a bad idea, because (a) people would misclick and buy something they didn't want, and (b) people would be scared off from the site they were scared of misclicking. But this was received wisdom; everybody before Amazon thought one-click was a bad idea--but that means everyone knew about one click already.

Maybe Amazon gets points for figuring out how to make it work pyschologically for people (if they even have--I have one-click disabled), but that's not the part that's being patented, and is surely not the part that people are talking about being obvious. Of course the ideal of clicking once was obvious--that's how the vast majority of actions on the computer worked, e.g. following hyperlinks! Or submitting a form! How could the action 'buy' not be obvious as one click as well? How could you possibly think that? And the implementation is trivial (the site just needs to know who you are, which it does if you're you logged in, whether with cookies or just earlier in the session and you have a session ID in the url).

There's a GUI rule of thumb that everything should be undoable, and anything you can't make undoable should have a confirmation dialog? That's the exact same principle that underlies both the common wisdom against 1-click (require confirmation) and Amazon's specific solution (allow undoing the order).

If you think this wasn't obvious, you can choke on a turkey.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (3, Insightful)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449573)

Much as I hate the effects of the one-click patent, I'm not sure I agree with can you.

Received wisdom was that one-click was a bad idea

That's really the key of it. It was obvious to everybody: obvious that it was such a bad idea that nobody should do it.

Except that it turned out that it was a really good idea, if you offset the "flaw" (no confirmation) with undoability. Good enough that other sites started doing it, too, and had to stop because of the patent.

I'm trying to think of other things that were "obviously bad ideas" which are now good ideas because of offsetting techology. Verbose, self-descriptive, text-based, network-transmitted file formats? Garbage collection? Hell, digital audio was obvious, but also obviously dumb due to the poor quality and large file sizes. But if you patented some of these in 1970, would they be valid?

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449957)

If undoability is the thing that makes this work: it is not part of the patent. The patent only covers the general "direct buy" idea everybody is/was aware of.

And an old idea it is. People used to walk into shops is their towns. They greeted the owner (they knew eachother). They said "John, order me the thingy and deliver it to my home, please", said goodbye and left.

And this is supposed to be patentable now just because it runs on computers connected through a network?

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450657)

It's not the thing that makes it work - it's the thing that makes it worth doing. See elsewhere in the thread.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450111)

No. Garbage collection was invented in 1959 along with LISP. Digital audio is a species of the genus of digital sampling. See Shannon for more details. Verbose, self-descriptive, text-based file formats: what do you think MIME is? And the convention in MIME is ancient. If something is obvious it cannot be patented, regardless of how good or bad people think it is.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450449)

I think you're missing my point (although MIME is a bit newer than 1970).

I *know* that all these concepts are ancient. That was precisely why I mentioned them.

People are saying that "one-click was obvious; the only reason there's no prior art was because we thought it was a bad idea at the time." In retrospect, it was only a bad idea if you couldn't undo it.

So let's take digital audio, which was "obvious" by the early 20th century - yet not really usable until we developed good converters. And once you have something digitized, sending it around a network is also an obvious thing to do - yet not doable until you have a fast, reliable network.

So on the one hand, an invention like "a method to allow purchase of digitized music over a wireless network with no physical media involved" was obvious in the 1930s. We knew about digitization, we knew about networks, we knew about wireless, we certainly knew about selling.

On the other hand, Apple just patented [macnn.com] it.

There's probably no prior art - not because it *couldn't* have been done three years ago, or because it couldn't have been conceived 30 years ago - but just because all the circumstances that make it not only possible, but commercially feasible, hadn't yet emerged.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21452327)

There's probably no prior art - not because it *couldn't* have been done three years ago, or because it couldn't have been conceived 30 years ago - but just because all the circumstances that make it not only possible, but commercially feasible, hadn't yet emerged.
So your point sums up to this: when an emerging technology is mature enough to be commercially viable, the first one to implement it should get a monopoly on it?

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

AySz88 (1151141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21451159)

I'm not sure if "it was thought to be a bad idea" is relevant here - if someone else thought of an innovation but then released it into the public domain, thinking that the idea couldn't be monetized, would someone else be able to patent that idea? (IANAL, but I doubt it...) And although the insight of easy-undo might possibly be innovative, "...and it can be undone easily" is not in the patent claim.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

jwilcox2009 (1175035) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450325)

You argument is why we have the concept of secondary considerations and commercial success, specifically, in patent law. Secondary considerations exist in patent law are there to safeguard against slipping into hindsight or other biases from clouding the PHOSITA analysis that most people think of when they think of patent obviousness analysis.

The commercial success idea is that if an idea met with commercial success, and that commercial success was substantially connected to the claimed invention, then the invention's commercial success is evidence of nonobviousness. That does not mean that if you establish commercial success the invention is ipso facto nonobvious, but it does weigh against an obviousness determination. The logic behind commercial success is that if the market really did reward the invention and it was obvious then a rational third party would have brought the invention to market sooner.

I think your rebuttal to this would have to be that the commercial success was not due to how much people loved one-click, but due to the trust people put in Amazon. You might be right.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (4, Insightful)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449313)

So I'd like to make an argument here, and see if I actually get any constructive responses: I really don't think that it was obvious or anticipated by any prior or *at the time that it was filed.* It was filed on September 12, 1997. How many people on here remember the state of internet commerce back in 1997? This idea was pretty innovative at that time. (Now that it's been used for 10 years, it's pretty obvious.)

Vending machines are one click shopping models. Put your money in, then click the button for the item you want. Amazon includes the "putting your money in" step when you sign up for an account; there's no reason you couldn't put $1,000 in a vending machine and come back whenever you wanted something and get a "one click" shopping experience. Patenting an existing business model just by doing it on the Internet is silly, otherwise every single type of financial transaction (or any other action really, including talking, writing, imaging, video, audio, etc.) could be patented simply because it was done over the Internet for the first time.

Second, as early as 1990 "pay-as-you-go" services like AOL and Compuserve already had content that could be purchased simply by clicking on them. They may have even had software downloads that could be purchased directly in forums, but I can't remember.

If your e-commerce site leaves out any one of those 9 clauses, you're not infringing. For example, if you're using a shopping cart ordering model, you're not infringing (look at part 9 there, you have to have a shopping cart ordering model to be within its bounds).

If Amazon wanted to be a bully, they could easily sue people. They can definitely afford lawyers. Microsoft doesn't even need to say which patents it thinks Linux infringes on in order to threaten people and win (see Suse and Linspire). Additionally, would you trust your business model to the whims of a jury who can't tell a shopping cart with a "Checkout" button apart from a "One click Purchase" button, or some random judge in Delaware or Texas of similar technical ignorance? I'm not slamming the states, just the fact that those states are used for incorporation for a reason; they're very friendly to big corporations.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449501)

How many people on here remember the state of internet commerce back in 1997?

How many people on here remember 1997?

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

neil-ngc (1019290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449739)

I, for one. I first got internet access in 1995. Yes, the web was young. And ugly. E-commerce in general was innovative, and I'm sure Amazon was involved in some pretty innovative stuff. One-click, however, was still an obvious option, just not previously implemented. Just imagine if the very first e-commerce site had patented the concept, which actually was pretty innovative.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450519)

Just imagine if the very first e-commerce site had patented the concept, which actually was pretty innovative.

That's called "argument from consequences". Yes, such a patent would make life unimaginably horrible. That wouldn't make it an invalid patent.

And, in fact, they did - a company called Pangea Intellectual Property (aka PanIP) bought a patent that was originally filed in 1984. Luckily, there were already a few online stores in 1984 (Comp-U-Card/Electronic Mall), and the patent was eventually invalidated because of that.

If that patent had been filed a few years earlier, we might not be having this discussion about Amazon.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

neil-ngc (1019290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21451415)

You're right. I got sucked back into the trap of arguing why software patents shouldn't exist at all, though the two topics are related. Certainly, patenting e-commerce would have, at one point, been a valid patent. I would still argue that one-click isn't.

being redundant, but (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449847)

As more than one person has pointed out, this was exactly what the RFC pointed to. The RFC is as much prior art as an software pantent can be a patent. (If you think a verbal, non-compilable description of an algorithm, even (especially) if it is couched in legal language, can be patented, then you have to accept the standard (or the standard proposal, which RFCs have been used as for a long time, contrary to the original intent of RFCs) as art.

We aren't talking about people putting source code in patents. That's what everybody is missing. Without an actual implementation there is no actual art. Unless you are willing to call something like an RFC art. (Which is insane!)

Software patents should have to require source code to be submitted, (Which points out a number of issues as to why copyright is precisely the right thing to use and patent is not, unless the patent applicant is intending to open source the object of the patent.)

Again, as more than one person has pointed out, reducing the number of clicks has always been a goal for an interface designer. Admittedly, there is some question to the sanity of reducing things to a single click, but Amazon hasn't really done that anyway. Certificates, cookies, buring state information in a stateless interface, all of this points to reducing the interface burden on the user, and that is all that one-click is about.

And, yes, I was there and I remember.

And the point isn't that the patent isn't broad, it is that it has been used by lawyers to force settlements (which ought to be seen as the real question begged by allowing software patents without source code in the submission).

<deep-breath/>

Well, now that I'm done ranting, the whole craziness of trying to use patents and copyrights as a backdoor to bringing back patronage is likely driven, in large part, by the fact that, with all the essential services mechanized, there isn't enough work to go around. Unless we (citizens of the US and other "developed" countries) take it on ourselves to find some way to account value in going to "undeveloped" countries to "help" them conquer their "problems". And somehow do that without committing serious breaches of ethics, without ending up destroying their cultural heritage.

Which is why religion is not evil after all, if we can only acknowledge that everyone is going to believe what they choose and quit trying to force it.

<hard-reset/><eor/>

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

KeithIrwin (243301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21452135)

I remember the state of e-commerce in 1997. It was obvious then too.

Being able to do something like that was the whole point of cookies. When, in 1995 or 1996 (i.e. during my sophomore year of college), my friend asked me what use cookies would be, I gave the example that it could be used for one click shopping. He was confused about what the use of such a small amount of data could be and I told him that it could be a key in a database to an entry containing a user's name, address, and credit card information, thereby allowing a single click to place an order instead of the silly forms which we were having to fill out and re-fill out in order to buy things on-line.

I'm not patting myself on the back for having been clever. It was an obvious application of the technology at the time. And the passage of time has not made it somehow retroactively not obvious. Just because you didn't know anything about e-commerce in 1997 doesn't mean that the rest of us didn't know anything about e-commerce in 1997. This patent should never have been granted because it fails the obviousness test. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to get a patent rescinded on this basis.

Re:Will Slashdot Ever Get It? (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21452209)

I can't quite recall how E-Commerce looked back in '97, so it's a bit beyond me to judge the innovation this patent may or may not have been. Considering even you (a seeming patent supporter) finds this patent "pretty obvious" in this time and age, tell me, what would you think about limiting a patent's lifespan to five, maybe ten years. In technology (which is the sector most patents are filed), this is a huge amount of time (Google grew from nothing to a several-hundred-billion dollar project in 9 years. Microsoft's Windows evolved from version 95 to (almost) Vista. Average internet conn speeds increased by two to three orders of magnitude). This might be, as far as I can imagine, the best way to encourage innovation for everyone. Oh and while we're on it, the bar to actually get a patent could be raised by a tiny little bit. Especially when it comes to potentially obvious patents.

Crazy patents (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21448883)

It could be worse, look at some of these patents [thedigitalbeat.com] .

Not news (4, Insightful)

Kiro (220724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449099)

Is this really news? The ex-parte re-exam with the prior art uncovered by the New Zealand man invalidated all claims except those that mentioned a shopping cart; this was reported weeks ago.
Back then, the PTO said that were Amazon to amend the rejected claims to include a shopping-cart limitation, which was not found in the newly uncovered prior art, those claims would probably be admissible.

The "news" appears to be that Amazon did what the PTO suggested it to do...

Am I the only one thats glad this is patented (2, Insightful)

z4ce (67861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449805)

Not because I think the patent isn't obvious or is right. But, I HATE the whole amazon one-click thing. It's way too easy to accidently order something while just trying to get a total price including shipping. So I'm glad they've patented it so no one else implements that annoying system.

All they did was patent taking the safety checks out of online transactions.

Re:Am I the only one thats glad this is patented (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450799)

+5, Insightful

Re:Am I the only one thats glad this is patented (1)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21452101)

Amazon getting this patent does not neccesarily stop others from using it and paying whatever royalties Amazon charges them. Or perhaps more likely, another company with an array of patents has its attorneys look through and find where Amazon is infringing on one, and then they sign a cross-license agreement with Amazon so both companies get to use both patents, and neither company is in the embarrassing position of having to actually pay royalty money to the other.

Nothing about patents surprises me. Ten years ago I saw where an engineer bet his manager he could get a patent on the addition of a resistor to a circuit that obviously had no function. His manager didn't believe it and signed off on it just to prove him wrong, and the USPTO in its infinite wisdom approved the patent.

Giving your credit card to a bartender? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449893)

The patent is obvious because plenty of offline services, like bars and restaurants, keep a user's credit card details to save the user entering them every time he or she wishes to make a purchase. This is the usual procedure when someone wishes to buy the all drinks in bar for a group of people for a certain amount of time. My boss's travel agent has his credit card details so his employees can book him a flight without the need for my boss to go through the "checkout process" every time. Amazon have managed to patent this very old process simply because the process has now appears on the internet.

Just hurt him already (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450067)

Could someone please beat Jeff Bezos over his fat head with a festivus pole already ? It's a dumb patent, for a dumb "invention" that doesn't confer any business advantage. People don't care about one-click anything, they care about finding what they want at a price they can stomach, which Amazon tends to do fairly well. Most people don't even read what they click anyway.

Er, "patent reformer"? (3, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21451181)

How can Amazon be a "patent reformer"? Should there be this much doublespeak on Slashdot?

BOYCOTT AMAZON (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21452195)

They have good service and good products, but this kind of patent trash has got to stop. I am taking my business elsewhere.

And I urge everyone else to do the same.

Goodbye, Mr. Bezos.

I'll come back when you get rid of the patents. Same goes for O'Reilly the publisher who does not seem to have any beef being so close to Bezos all the while arguing against patents.
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