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Amazon Patents Customized 404 Pages

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the makes-my-heart-hurt dept.

Patents 167

theodp writes "Among the patents awarded to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday was one for his invention of Error Processing Methods for Providing Responsive Content to a User When a Page Load Error Occurs, which covers displaying alternate web pages in response to HTTP 404 page-not-found errors. So is this the technology that causes Amazon's Home Page to be displayed when Bezos' MIA Patent Reform Page can't be found?"

cancel ×

167 comments

The Plan (4, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233614)

They were going to sue everyone on the planet, but they couldn't find their websites.

And by the way, what constitutes "customized" when its open source software?

404'd! (5, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233630)

404'd! [homestarrunner.com]

Old news (4, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234396)

Bezos has stated in the past that he is patenting software methods as a defensive measure. "We're not saying we have bad patents," Amazon.com spokesman Bill Curry said. "We feel very good about our patents... [Bezos] makes the point very emphatically in the letter that we cannot unilaterally disarm in a world where there are big ugly players who aren't disarming." [wired.com]

It's like road rage. When people are cutting you off and breaking all the rules, you have to tailgate and cut them off as a defensive measure (sometimes, at least). Nice guys finish last. The entire system is broken and the Patent Office really needs more legislative direction because it has strayed from its original mission.

I think software and business methods should not be patentable in the same way that physical inventions are. Also, I question the concept of selling patents. We end up with these litigious patent holding companies that have no technical abilities of their own, only a lot of lawyers.

A few years ago I looked into making and marketing a telephony device that would be an incremental but useful improvement over existing equipment, and discovered that so many methods related to telephony and voicemail are patented that practically speaking there was no way to make a device without infringing. "A method for playing back a telephoned message by pressing a button"--give me a freaking break. No wonder the U.S. has slipped behind in technical innovation, when much of the incentive for incremental product improvement has been removed by the threat of instant litigation. Thank goodness the Asians still believe in incremental improvement.

I'm OK with Amazon patenting stupid obvious things, as long as they don't enforce those patents, which I believe they have done very little of, and as long as Jeff Bezos continues to crusade for patent reform. Just my 2c!

Re:Old news (2, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234554)

That's all well and good until someone steps in and replaces Bezos. What happens when we get someone who sees patents as a profit center and not just a way to prevent other wackos from patenting it? What happens when they decide to sell those patents to some patent warehouse owned by lawyers? Needless to say, it could get ugly fast. The fact is, these patents should never have been granted in the first place. They're nothing but harmful to American business.

Re:404'd! (1, Funny)

Fishead (658061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234432)

Awesome! That's the best 404 page I have ever seen!

Any strongbad related post deserves +6 awesomeness!

Patent my ass! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22233656)

Re:Patent my ass! (0)

ronadams (987516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234092)

Well, given the number of patents Amazon has and wants for nonsense garbage like this, it would take a cavity of that magnitude! duh-dun chhhhhh!

*runs away*

prior art? (1)

spurious cowherd (104353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233658)

cat /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf |grep -B 5 404

# Customizable error responses come in three flavors:
# 1) plain text 2) local redirects 3) external redirects
#
# Some examples:
#ErrorDocument 500 "The server made a boo boo."
#ErrorDocument 404 /missing.html
#ErrorDocument 404 "/cgi-bin/missing_handler.pl"

Customizable error responses come in three flavors:
# 1) plain text 2) local redirects 3) external redirects

Not prior art (5, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233690)

The patent is not about the server serving custom
error pages (which is your post), but about a client
side process that communicates with a separate error server
to generate the appropriate response. So I would guess it
is a intended to be a plugin for a browser.

But then this is slashdot, why bother to read the article.

Re:Not prior art (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233728)

What error is displayed when the error server is not found?

Re:Not prior art (3, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233980)

Why:
Error Displaying Error Message, of course...

Drat, can't find the pic I wanted...

Re:Not prior art (3, Funny)

cavac (640390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234856)

Given the average software quality out there, the plugin would probably detect that it can't connect to a server (ignoring that it failed on the error server) and contact the error server "instead".

The most probable error message would be something in the spirit of "You just transfered huge amounts of data on your non-flatrate account. Your account has been suspended."

Re:Not prior art (3, Funny)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234206)

"Additionally, a 404 error was detected in displaying this error page"

Re:Not prior art (2, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234996)

Obviously a second error server will be contacted, to find out what sort of error should be displayed. You are not thinking Web 2.0 enough.

Re:Not prior art (3, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233808)

What article?

Re:Not prior art (1)

codegen (103601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234268)

Sorry, I mistyped.

s/article/patent/

Re:Not prior art (3, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233860)

The "client-side component" in question is (or can be) simply a part of the browser's built-in functionality. And don't tell me that using a redirect to a different server dedicated to dynamic 404s is bloody "innovative".

(And having a 404 handler that tries to figure out what the user is looking for [which is the other major component]? That has very, very much been done before).

Re:Not prior art (1)

codegen (103601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234182)

I agree completely. I don't believe that having a smart browser component to handle error pages from the client side using an error server is in any way innovative. I don't believe in software patents anyways. I was just noting that the ability of the apache server to return alternate error pages is not prior art in this case.

Re:Not prior art (1)

AmeerCB (1222468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233878)

From tfp:

A client component runs on a user computer in conjunction with a web browser and detects errors, such as but not limited to "404: page not found" errors, in which a requested web page or other object cannot be displayed.

I noticed this too, but couldn't the "client component" just be a cookie? Maybe "runs on a user computer" implies otherwise.

Re:Not prior art (1)

ps236 (965675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234028)

No it couldn't just be a cookie - it 'notifies an error processing server'

It *could* be Javascript in the ErrorDocument page though, which uses AJAX to talk to the server to get alternate pages to display.

But, if you read the patent it looks like it's actually got to be a plugin or part of the browser itself which notices a 404 error coming from anywhere and does something about it:

"wherein the client component is responsive to detection of the unavailability of a target web page requested by the browser program by sending a request to the error processing server"

Re:Not prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234296)

Well usually on Slashdot the moron that writes the summary also hasn't read the article. You always have to RTFA only because the precis quality here is so damned atrocious. You'd be making the above post to about 95% of the respondents here, if you had time, but you don't. That's why most news outlets have "editors".

Re: Internet Explorer?? (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234312)

Internet Explorer by default processes 404 errors and displays a self-generated page suggesting to visit the homepage of the website you tried to reach. That's client-side processing.

Re:Not prior art (1)

gravesb (967413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234446)

Additionally, the hierarchy of redirection can be set on the client side. Maybe something like an A9 search toolbar with customized redirects.

Re:Not prior art (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234964)

Isn't that the intent of Microsoft's "Show Friendly HTTP Error Messages" in IE? I admit, they never did much with customizing it, and to be quite honest, they make the message worthless instead of knowledgeably useful, but you could argue they did client side customization of the error message.

Re:prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22233700)

Congratulations, you've been awarded with the "Useless use of cat" Award for January 2008.

Re:prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234332)

echo "huh?" | cat

Re:prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22233764)

No, Amazon won't consider that to be the case. When they go outside the standard then suddenly they are innovating and their brilliant work deserves a patent. The <blink> tag isn't in the HTML standard but that doesn't mean that it should be patented for its brilliant. And having the HTTP 1.1 external redirect always send you to goatse.ch isn't in the standard either. Should I patent it?

Re:prior art? (2, Funny)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233926)

Reminds me of Marvin:

The requested patent is totally fake.
No patent here.
Even tried multi.
Nothing helped.
I'm really depressed about this.
You see, I'm just a web server...
-- here I am, brain the size of the universe,
trying to serve you a simple patent,
and then it doesn't even exist!
Where does that leave me?!

Apparently prior art doesn't matter at ALL anymore (0, Troll)

WiglyWorm (1139035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233662)

So just because something has been around for a decade and a half or more means nothing to the patent system? PArdon me while I file a patent for "an aggregated news site updated several times a day via a user submission and ranking system for the calculation of page popularity". Or maybe "system for allowing user feedback to be displayed along with news articles". Man... once the lawsuits settle, I'll be rich.

Re:Apparently prior art doesn't matter at ALL anym (1)

sYkSh0n3 (722238) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233832)

What about "system for encouraging the enraged debate between persons on the superiority of certain electronic devices and corporations disguised as a news aggregate system for the technology inclined"

that's where the money is

Re:Apparently prior art doesn't matter at ALL anym (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234388)

Modding parent Troll? A bit literal, perhaps?

Re:Apparently prior art doesn't matter at ALL anym (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235098)

gotta love /. justice.

maybe I'll patent that..."the system/method....."

I can just here that guy on the Dave Chappelle show in that truck load of cigs and money saying "I'm rich, beeyotch!"
(http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/index.jhtml?ml_video=24406)

How stupid can the patent office be.. (3, Informative)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233668)

I mean seriously, in the last 2 weeks, we have the Minerva Industries patent on smartphones, and now this.. Who the hell is working in the patent office.....

I am sure we can find some prior art.. the most annoying being angelfire and geocities from way back when.

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (4, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233770)

Its not all the patent offices fault. They have to follow the rules, and those rules were not set up for the torrent of patents they receive these days.

If you get too many patent applications, the process of establishing if prior art exists also gets swamped. Thus without a special effort, patents which have prior art can still get granted.

I've skimmed the patent in question, and it sounds like a new thing to me. There may be bits and pieces that invalidate some of what it does, but since the USPTO allows patents for software products (which has always struck me as dumb), this is probably valid.

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234110)

Its not all the patent offices fault. They have to follow the rules, and those rules were not set up for the torrent of patents they receive these days.


They should use Comcast, then. That should slow the torrents down a bit...

*cower (Rank 8)*

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (1)

GnuDiff (705847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234310)

Btw, IANAL, so I'd like to understand:
Isn't it the case that USPTO can be sued, if it fails to process patent application in alloted time?

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234320)

Well, they keep granting software patents, by way of a loophole, when software patents fall outside of what is covered by the intent of patent law, and so should not be patentable to begin with.

From where I'm sitting, that looks pretty stupid. And that is their fault.

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234368)


If you get too many patent applications, the process of establishing if prior art exists also gets swamped. Thus without a special effort, patents which have prior art can still get granted.


Um, easy solution, don't issue any patents until you're sure there's no prior art. If there are too many patents submitted, tough shit, no patents for anyone. That would motivate reform!

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234692)

How sure should you be? How much time should you spend researching prior art?

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235036)

Good point. But whatever answer you come up with -- or the Patent Office comes up with -- should not be based on the size of the backlog of pending patents.

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235104)

Sure enough that you're willing to risk some sort of liability if you issue the patent and prior art is later discovered.

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234656)

People seem to forget that prior art is not the only criterion for exclusion even under the currently broken patent law.

Patents are supposed to be non-obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art.

I've read through this patent. Yes, it sounds vaguely "new," as this type of error handling is usually done on the server or on a proxy. Yet it is simply a straightforward application of universally used programming concepts.

It's just describing a web browser (or browser plugin/script) that responds to web server errors by displaying alternate content. What is non-obvious about this? Nobody can seriously claim it's something that is "only obvious in retrospect." I can't even conceive of a programmer of ordinary skill to whom this patent's claims could appear non-obvious.

By permitting such patents, the patent office is violating its own legal criteria of acceptance. Regardless of whether the patented matter already has prior art, it is also required to be somewhat inventive (i.e., non-obvious).

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234070)

Who the hell is working in the patent office.....

I always wondered whether the "According to Jim" writers were working day jobs during the strike. Now I know.

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234250)

Have you been to the USPTO? There's a big hint by the sign on the wall (big letters) that says: "We are here to grant patents". Not "...here to make sure that your patent application is legitimate, novel and not obvious and will contribute to the progress of useful arts and sciences".

Re:How stupid can the patent office be.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234416)

>Who the hell is working in the patent office?

Hari Seldon. He is obviously trying to make the system collapse in order to save the galaxy in 1000 years.

plinko 404 (0, Redundant)

miowpurr (1004277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233692)

plinko (and everyone who uses it)will be in trouble... http://www.plinko.net/404/ [plinko.net]

my patent (1)

silentace (992647) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233712)

While we are at patents i am going to apply for one for "using a flat horizontal surface for placing items on display, storing items or utilizing the surface for serving food or other demonstrations"

my science department has come up with a clever name for this invention called a table... you may have heard of it, if you have one please pay me dues now.

Re:my patent (0, Flamebait)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234720)

You know, the "I'm going to file for X-OBVIOUS-PATENT" comments are really, really tired.

Re:my patent (1)

cavac (640390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235000)

The ingenious thing you probably didn't realize about your patent description: If someone places a flat slab of ice somewhere for an ice skating competition, you can still demand money

1) It's flat

2) It's horizontal

3) It's used to demonstrate ice skating skill

Now, that's what i call a really well formulated patent :-)

ErrorDocument 404 (1, Funny)

aweiland (237773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233714)

I guess I can't use that directive in apache anymore.

RTFA you tards (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22233720)

It's not a patent on 404 handlers. It's a patent on a client-side component that detects errors including, but not limited to 404s, then relays the error to an external server and receives an alternate URL or resource to serve the user. Blame the patent office for being idiots if you want, but this time *you* are the idiot.

Re:RTFA you tards (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234120)

Cheers for clearing that up, Jeff.

Why would Amazon patent a client-side component? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234134)

So why would Amazon be patenting a client-side component?

(not to mention that they would be total tards for actually implementing it, given how much pain IE causes by intercepting 404 already)

Re:Why would Amazon patent a client-side component (3, Insightful)

tjarrett (162732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235142)

Well, Amazon is making clients now. Is it possible that this is related to what Amazon is doing with Kindle?

Re:RTFA you tards (1, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234150)

Oh so you mean it kinda does what Apache does when you get an error (including, but not limited to, 404s), except it keeps the list of redirect pages on a separate server? Sounds like something that should be allowed a patent to me, I mean it's completely non-trivial!

Re:RTFA you tards (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234774)

It probably keeps the whole redirect logic on the server. They could redirect dynamically ala Google Ads, based upon the URI. I don't understand why it couldn't be done on the server itself, though, as it should have access to all of the header information (and more) that the client has.

As far as software patents go, it's not all that bad. But that's like saying that as far as serial killers go, Charles Manson wasn't all that bad.

Re:RTFA you tards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234644)

This may sound stupid but what exactly is an "error".

All this really consists of is your browser or plugin responding to a specific set of conditions and then doing something else based on some logic.
Here is a basic example of this.
Lets call a .xyz attachment and "error". Your browser receives a .xyz attachment from a page you clicked on, your browser responds with a flag that says, ohh, wait, that is confusing but I have some built in logic and know what to do for that. You are directed to a different server that gives possible suggestions on how you can open this .xyz attachment.

My example is not meant to imply it is exactly the same as the patent, only that this is not some idea that is novel or elaborate that it should be given a patent.

I have another issue with some of these patents. It seems that you can patent anything that somewhat different from the normal. People typicially wear summer clothes in the summer and winter clothes in the winter. Could you patent wearing summer clothes in the winter? It seems many patents like this one for custom error conditions are not something that is unique and something that people in the field would not think off, just a logical extanstion or something that anyone would think of if the problem or condition came up.

We all know that a lever can be used to lift or move a heavy object. Can I patent the process of using a lever to move one or more mainframe computers in an enclosed space where conventional moving equipment will not fit? Just because no one may have done that yet does not mean it is patentable idea. The one click thing is a perfect example of crap, just because no one may have done it does not mean it should get a patent.

I claim prior art (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235118)

I have been using customized errorpage since Apache 1 supported it;
A lot of these pages are still to be found on the Internet archive dating back in the 90's...
Whenever someone goes to http://myserver/username/directory [myserver] it looks up in an internal database where to go to if the user or directory doesn't exist.

So, now I am doing this illegally .. suddenly ? .. What's the scope ? ..

It's *CLIENT* based (5, Informative)

ps236 (965675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233736)

If anyone else has read the patent, they'll realise that it's a CLIENT-SIDE component that's involved.

Most (all?) 'automatic redirect' systems I've seen are server based - the server runs a script which says 'That page couldn't be found, did you mean any of these...'

I can't imagine who'd put this on the client with client-server communication going on. It sounds like a vastly over-engineered and 'Enterprisey' solution to me. It DOES have the advantage that it can look back in the browser history, but I'm not sure I see how that could benefit the user (the component COULD tell the server what's in the history though, so it could benefit Amazon!)

MSIE did it. (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233778)

Much as I'm loath to hold it up as an example of anything ever, Internet Explorer has been using client-based action to generate a friendly "This page cannot be displayed" page in place of 404 errors for years and years.

Re:MSIE did it. (1)

ps236 (965675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233934)

True - but I'm not sure even that's enterprisey enough to conflict with Amazon's patent.

Re:MSIE did it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234180)

Displaying 404 errors is not what this is about. The patent specifically talks about a component which detects the error (which isn't limited to 404), *then communicated with some other server* which uses the url of the error'd page or object to do things -- 'things' possibly meaning just displaying an error page, but also possibly finding replacement objects, as in the case where an object could be resident other places within the domain.

Re:MSIE did it. (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234300)

Patents are supposed to be for things that are innovative and not obvious. It is not really a big stretch between having your browser display a 404 error and having it also go somewhere else. I'm thinking the reason no one did this previously is because of the ruckus raised when the top level domain gatekeepers like Verisign started selling redirects when you mistyped a domain name. Amazon's idea really is just a minor twist this theme if you ask me. And even if you didn't ask me.

Re:MSIE did it. (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234336)

Yeah, but to the best of my knowledge MSIE doesn't customize the content of that page any way, or communicate with an external server before rendering it - it just prints the pretty message.

Or maybe it does, but the customization is like, subtle, man.

(Warning: I haven't read TFA either. :) )

Re:MSIE did it. (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234628)

IE does make a small customization to the page. It inserts a direct link to what it thinks is the homepage of the site you refered to.

Re:It's *CLIENT* based (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233800)

It DOES have the advantage that it can look back in the browser history, but I'm not sure I see how that could benefit the user

Especially if the user in question has some things in their history they might not want popping up in front of others.

Re:It's *CLIENT* based (1)

simong (32944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234188)

Looking at the age of the supporting documents, this patent application dates back to the days when client side apps were thought to have a role in the browser. I'm thinking of things like Realnames, and various push client mechanisms that had client side authentication. Then again, someone at Amazon must see a value in it if they have persisted in getting the patent.

Re:It's *CLIENT* based (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234750)

Javascript is client-side, is it not? This could have prior art in AJAX implementations.

AJAX using a Web Service? (1)

pcardno (450934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234988)

A decent usage would be in the AJAX world - your browser based AJAX script gets a 404 from a "web service" that it's consuming, so instead of having to keep a list of all the alternative sources of that information, it goes to a directory type server that provides alternatives for it.

There needs to be a new patent law (1)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233762)

that fines companies for failing to do their due diligence in checking prior arts when applying for a new patent. The fine should be large enough to deter the complete abuse of the patent system.

Re:There needs to be a new patent law (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234068)

Clearly a job for Anonymous !

We need a lawyer to explain this (0, Redundant)

AmeerCB (1222468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233774)

Can amazon really patent something that a prior invention already thought to implement? What I mean is, almost all web servers (apache, iis to name two big ones) allow for custom error messages. And amazon.com requires a web server to run.

To me, this is like placing a patent on "using the emergency flashing lights on my car to signal for help." Someone already thought of this use of my emergency flashing lights, and that's why the lights were implemented. But no one thought to patent the actual process of using the lights to flag down a passing police car.

I'm probably way off on this, so can someone tell me why I'm wrong?

Re:We need a lawyer to explain this (4, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233806)

To me, this is like placing a patent on "using the emergency flashing lights on my car to signal for help." Someone already thought of this use of my emergency flashing lights, and that's why the lights were implemented.

Which is exactly the situation with the 1-click patent. Cookies were invented to allow a site to recognise a returning user/customer, so patenting the act of using cookies to recognise a returning customer (and by "recognising" I mean linking them to an account) should never have been allowed a patent.

There is a VERY simple solution: don't buy anything off Amazon, and tell your friends not to too. I don't. If they want my money they can stop trying to prevent me from working.

TWW

Re:We need a lawyer to explain this (3, Insightful)

superid (46543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233944)

IANAPA, but coincidentally in another window right now I am writing a patent disclosure application. I am lucky enough to work at an office that has a cadre of patent attorneys and just last week I had a discussion about a topic just like this Amazon patent (or I think it is).

In my case, I've "built" a system using nothing more than a set of other peoples building blocks. Each existing component is already extensively patented and/or in common use with TONS of prior art. The system I created performs a useful function that is also covered by prior art (in my case, it is a medical diagnostic tool).

The patent attorney told me that my idea was very likely patentable because it was a "novel" (new) implementation, even though the pieces exist and a (different) end product already exists.

Patent system is broken... (0, Redundant)

darkcmd (894336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233776)

This is a prime example of why the United States patent system is broken. People can patent vague ideas such as custom error messages. I've seen custom 404 error pages for a long time.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22233792)

Who approves of such patents? Soon someone'll patent "Piece of paper used as currency", and no one will notice.

Patents (2, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233798)

The problem is though that who's really at fault at the end of the day, Amazon for trying to apply for the Patent or the Patent office for allowing it?

It's like the loophole I found when I was in Game a few months ago:

"£9.99 please"
"But it says it's half price"
"No, it's only half price when bought with something else"
"Oh... so if I buy two of these then I get them both for less than the price of just one of them?"
(Realising the problem) "...yeah... yeah you would actually"
"OK, I'll be back in a minute"

Re:Patents (0)

Placido (209939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234164)

[off-topic]

Which product was that? *prepares to head off to Game*

Re:Patents (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234678)

You're lucky the salesperson you were dealing with was competent.

Here in Canada we deal with people who can't make change for $5 nevermind the logical finanglery of half price tricks.

I can see the conversation going more like this:

"$15 please"
"But it says it's half price"
"No, it's only half price when bought with something else"
"Oh... so if I buy two of these then I get them both for less than the price of just one of them?"
(Not realising the problem) "...no... you need two things to be half off of one of the things... I think... half...off..." (Scrambles for the supervisor's phone extension)

How much longer do we need to put up with him? (-1, Troll)

DrWho520 (655973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233822)

What an asshole.

I have an idea for a patent! (2, Funny)

blackdew (1161277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233852)

A system that embeds a CAPTCHA in an obscure place in TFA, then requires users to enter it on the comment pages before commenting to ensure they actually RTFA...

Re:I have an idea for a patent! (1)

blackdew (1161277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233904)

Or even better, i should patent a "-1, !RTFA" moderation option

Amazon Patents Customized Webpages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22233872)

Why not? They've tried patenting just about anything else, and succeeded....

Abuse of the Patent system (0, Redundant)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233888)

You are missing the point. This is an abuse of the patent system, and this is the reason there is no rational reason for the existence of software patents. They are in effect, censorship.

Easy solution: Redirect your 404's :) (1)

splutty (43475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233910)

And yes. I know it's client side bla bla, but still :) If you just redirect all your 404 pages to Amazon, at say www.amazon.com/thispagedoesnotexistyoubastards I wonder how that'd work out :)

Considering almost everyone uses the 'back' option anyway after hitting a 404...

Useful bit of engineering (5, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#22233956)

... which is using a well known malware/phishing technique.

It is a client component (read adware/malware) that intercepts 404 messages, calls home to find out where to redirect the user, then redirects.

i.e. if you type in "slahdsot.org" it will search a database of misspellings and redirect you to "slashdot.org".

or.. in the case of malware.. if you type in "myinternetbank.com" it could redirect you to "myphishingsite.com".

I'd be surprised if there isn't prior art among the less ethical Internet inventions out there.

Re:Useful bit of engineering (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234314)

I'd be surprised if there isn't prior art among the less ethical Internet inventions out there.

It took me just a few google searches to find a worm that did exactly that; it intercepts and redirected google searches to a results page with different ads.
I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find malware that intercepts 404's.

Re:Useful bit of engineering (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234700)

Actually spyware does this all the time, so I am not sure you did not just point out prior art with your phishing example.

The slowness... The slowness... (1)

HeavensFire (1161917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234126)

i suppose this means even more resource draining and slow loading web pages. odd... software developers want to increase their server load with server resident applications, and web developers want to offload their server load onto the visitor.

Wheel patented in Australia (4, Funny)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234190)

An Australian man has been issued with an innovation patent for the wheel after setting out to test the workability of a new national patent system.

John Keogh was issued the innovation patent for a "circular transportation facilitation device" under a patent system introduced in May 2001.

(read the rest...) [newscientist.com]

:-)

- Jesper

Custom errors (2, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234216)

Error 404: Please pay Amazon 2 cents to see what caused the error.

Client component aka browser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234486)

A client component runs on a user computer in conjunction with a web browser and detects errors, such as but not limited to "404: page not found" errors, in which a requested web page or other object cannot be displayed. In response to detecting the error, the client component notifies an error processing server, which uses the URL of the failed request to identify an alternate object to display.

Sounds pretty straight forward so far. But now please pay carefull attention to what has been claimed:

1. A system for handling page request errors, comprising: an error processing server; and a client component that runs on a user computing device in association with or as part of a browser program and communicates with the error processing server over a computer network; wherein the client component is responsive to detection of the unavailability of a target web page requested by the browser program by sending a request to the error processing server ....

Don't assume you know what it says, just read it and fill it in. Why can't the client component not be the browser itself? Worse yet: why can't it be your average 404 error page with a javascript component on it? So basically; a javascript component which does nothing more than, in response to a 404, sends some stuff out (although the browser basicly does this) like a referrer address and such. In response the server displays the page to which the client was send from the 404 error page.

Its not a matter of what you think, its what fits into the description. And quite frankly; this can describe a lot of (common) ways to handle 404 (or other) server errors.

At times like these that I'm glad not to live in the States but in Europe. What kind of an idiot would approve this? It really wouldn't surprise me if some future US president would patent the breathing of air in order to take the whole country out of the financial crisis they're in, and I'd see that being approved by a patent office too. "No, we're not taxing air. We're securing the process of inhaling clean air. And anyone who refuses to breath in this fresh clean air simply isn't a patriot. You're either with us, or you're against us" :-)

Re:Client component aka browser? (1)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234904)

Some European states' POs may be better than the USPTO but the EPO certainly isn't. The EPO grants software and business method patents and, like the USPTO, it has no qualms about enabling its customers to engage in speculative extortion: http://webshop.ffii.org/ [ffii.org] and outright theft: http://www.ffii.org.uk/archives/28 [ffii.org.uk] (a theft of ideas outlined in the X Consortium's ICCCM standard).

Bozo should focus on his shipping (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234572)

I made 4 orders to Amazon this last Christmas and 2 of the 4 packages showed up as followed

a) without my stuff, just the invoice/packing slip with MY address
b) someone elses stuff, with their invoice/packing slip also included

So a failure rate of 50% for their shipping facilities each time affecting not only me, but the other Christmas shopper who won't be getting their stuff for Christmas.

But no, Mr. Bezos is focused on patenting the obvious

They don't use their own invention? (!) (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234698)

I guessed a URL on Amazon replying at a different story on slashdot, http://www.amazon.com/topsellers [amazon.com] , it gives an ordinary 404 which is not clever of any kind.

On sites with actual smart 404 , it will grab the / part and do a site search showing relevant results or if it is plain obvious like my guess, even forward the person to right URL.

prior art (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234736)

prior art [sugarmotor.org]

So wait... (1)

hyperz69 (1226464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234770)

Now I can be sent a Cease and Desist letter that I cannot post due to it being copy written about using a custom 404 Page. Music and video have been hunted down by the RIAA and MPAA so thats out the window. The US government say no to porn (think of the children). Hell even Ford says I cant put up pictures of my car. WTF can I put up on the internet. Guess its back to the Geocity days of Flashing kittens meowing to bad midi music!

Figures (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234930)

Finally, the IF statement is patented. This was bound to happen.

if (error=404) customMessage();

The patents are customizing... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234942)

the 405th page as we speak.
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