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Amazon Sues B&N over Software Patent 238

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the one-click-technology dept.
TuneUp writes "Amazon is suing Barnes and Noble over it's 1-Click "technology" which allows you to enter your credit info only once, then shop to your hearts content. Time to see if these ridiculous patents will hold up. " We reported on the patent a few weeks ago. By far my favorite bit is how this feature took "Thousands of Hours" to implement. I'm having a really hard time with this patent, since to a computer saving your VISA number and shipping address is no different then saving, say, your Slashdot Nickname and preferred threshold. Well, except one probably ought to be a bit more secure...
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Amazon Sues B&N over Software Patent

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  • by Wiggins (3161) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:22AM (#1594512) Homepage
    ..We run a similar technology on our very large and extensive e-commerce solution which might be a viable competitor to Amazon and B&N....uh or something....so is it really one click technology that is copyrighted/patented/trademarked (whatever) is it the cookies. Because that is basically all it is doing anyways right? I think I will patent the one click get your email idea and make millions sueing someone........
  • A thousand hours really isn't that much if you do some math. Say ten programmers workings a month. This gives you about 1,600 hours. Techincally that's "thousands of hours". Yes it sounds bogus, and I don't think it nessecarily took that long. Although testing, documenting you did the testing, get it all signed off, developing requirements, etc is much much easier with a ten person company opposed to a 50+ person company.
    -cpd
  • I really hope they lose. Their One-Click technology is nothing more than the use of cookies in a somewhat secure fashion, possibly coupled with some data storage on their computer. It would be really nice if the courts come out with a major statement on this regarding how silly these software patents really are.
  • by EvlG (24576)
    As the recent Slashdot Article on Patents (and subsequent comments) pointed out, patent defense is a risk: if the judge decides the "infringement" is not actually infringing on any IP at all, then the patent is rendered worthless.

    Let's hope the judge is sensible in this case.
  • by jd (1658)
    It's very important that my nickname & threshold is kept secure. :)

    Seriously, though, I have the feeling the patent will hold up, for no better reason than it's there and so somebody passed it, proving it's validity.

  • I'm not saying the lawsuit has merit or not, but 1-click is more complicated than just "storing name and credit card number". The back end shipping system at Amazon reviews orders and automatically combines separate orders into one shipping unit. I don't know if it took "thousands of hours", but there may have been some non-trivial problems to solve (beyond the naive "Hey Beevus, heh heh, heh heh, just do a SELECT on the address!!! huh heh! heh huh!).

  • I honestly can't see this patent holding up in court. Like the article says, Amazon is always in the middle of a lawsuit with some company over something. I think them picking a fight with barnes and noble is just stupid, because they will lose their patent. This is pretty much equivalent to "1-Click" Logins... "your user information gets stored in a database and the browser receives a cookie...". Could anyone see a patent like that every holding up in court? Obviously not. Therefore this patent is soon to be dead in the water, in my opinnion.
  • by luge (4808) <slashdot@@@tieguy...org> on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:26AM (#1594522) Homepage
    The good:
    Two companies which nearly define "deep pockets" are going to fight it out here. Instead of the little guy being picked on by the big guy, two evenly sized competitors will be going at it- which means that maybe something other than money will determine the outcome of the case.

    The bad:
    It will still be IP lawyers determining the outcome. What do you think the odds are of B&N's guys saying "all software patents are crap!"? That tack might lead to a useful outcome, but no... they'll be arguing that "this particular patent is crap... of course, all of ours are brilliant and original, so don't touch those." They'd never jeopardize their incomes by pushing for a ruling that would have expansive and much needed impact.

    My conclusion:
    While this case might be interesting, it won't change anything, because of the vested interests of the lawyers who will end up controlling the case. Patents won't really fall in the courts until a little guy is attacked by a big guy, and defended by a lawyer who does pro bono work and is thus willing to attack the system from within. Until that time, corporate IP lawyers will continue fighting small battles while making very sure they don't win the war.
  • Profit isn't everything.

  • This is getting more and more ridiculous. As far as I'm concerned, cookies do this anyway. All that is being added here is that the cookie has a counterpart on the server, which stores the data. This is going to be a canonical example of how *BAD* software patents really are. Lets hope that it falls in court.
  • Isn't this the way that standard shopping cart scripts work? You enter all your your information into a database, you have a username and password, and that information can be optionally stored in a cookie. I didn't know that you could 'patent' such an idea.
  • No, it's true. Something like this DOES take thousands of hours - as long as you factor in the coffee breaks, reading the manuals, designing the right gif buttons, etc...

    ... and especially so if you count in the lawyer's hours :-)

    Seriously, this sounds awfully like the claims of companies who have had software source downloaded by hackers and who have then had to put a value on the property that was "taken". The sooner that something like this gets exposed in court as the scam it is, the better.

  • So Amazon can't make money by selling stuff - they'll just have to sue the competition until they turn a profit.

    As business plans go - many IPOs have worse.

  • You mean 10 - 20 hours by programmers and 1500 hours by the lawyers coming up with this. *grin*
  • I really hope B&N don't just back off from using 1-click shopping or modify their site enough so that it no longer 'infringes'. We need a few companies with a bit of financial clout behind them to contest these obvious patents just to (hopefully!) show people that although the patent office might be handing out patents for 'breathing, using the lungs as a aperatus to sustain life', the courts might take a somewhat dim view.

    It would be nice if the courts became so flooded with these ridiculous claims that they started penalising people who obtain then attempt to uphold patents which are far too obvious.

    Amazon might think twice about taking legal action if there was a good chance of it losing a couple of million dollars.
  • This is another example of how dumb the patent office is. This patent can't stand. This sort of thing has been used for years. My company has had a system since '91 doing this sort of thing. Web sites have stored user preferences for years. Before that there were BBSes. Before that...
  • It's not the security that was patented here. The amount of work needed to implement the idea is also irrelevant.
    I think somebody will come up with a very trivial example of an earlier implementation of this idea and bye bye patent. This patent was never designed to hold up in court but just as an obstacle for competing companies.
  • not only is this a chance to see if these stupid patents are enforcible, if the media picks up on this and makes it a big deal ala OJ Simpson, we might actually get something done about them as a whole. on second thought... its improbable... no teary eyed witnesses crying out "YOU KILLED HER!!!", no DNA evidence, not even a shrunk glove... nah, definately not something worthy of 24 hour coverage that joe normal at home would watch. Its merely the future of software thats at stake here. yup, its just one greedy company going after another...
  • I'm going to be the first to patent the act of breathing!

    You will all be server with subpoenas!

    hahaha... what a laugh.

  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:35AM (#1594535) Homepage Journal
    Barnes And Nobles is no saint in the frivolous lawsuit department, either. A couple years ago, they sued Amazon.com for not charging sales tax.

    Hopefully as little will come of this patent case as came of that.

    What I find most sad about this whole thing is that to me, as a potential customer, the "1-Click ordering" is one of the least interesting features of their site. It is like a brick-and-morter store acting as if their cash register were the most crucial part of their business.
  • "...server with subpoenas!" ??
    oi vey! I guess it's apparent where my head is at this morning... sheesh.
  • Blah... As I recall, Music Boulevard (may it rest in peace) had this feature several years ago.

    I have no problem with software patents for things that are truly novel and that advance the field they are in... this is not one of those things.

  • That Commander Taco thinks that my Slashdot login should be much more secure than the Amazon 1-click stuff.

    Doesn't it just warm the cockles of your heart?

  • You know, this may not be a patent thing at all. It may be a move to get political action. If millions of comapnies, products, or packages can be affected by this lawsuit, someone will try to enact a law licensing and bonding web designers. "After all, they are in charge of our security." The locksmithing industry was plagued by such a thing years ago. A set of fingerprints along with a 100 dollar fee gave one a "permit" to practice the trade in California. What did it do? Put the fingerprints on file with the police, (just incase a guy in the trade was dumb enough to use his own equiptment to commit a crime-which he could already make $60 an hour), and gave $100 a year to a political board to legislate more rules. Watch this thing, politicians abound......
  • Has anyone read this patent? I can't believe that it could be as broad as it appears. In an attempt to find out, I went to the patent database [uspto.gov] search, and attempted a search on amazon and order. It appears that the patent is not in the online database. Does anyone know why not?

    I was on GEine years ago, and I could order stuff with one keyboard click (once I had found something worth ordering, which was rare). Let loose the lawyers of war!

  • All this rediculous patenting has drawn me to one conclusion. I am going to patent the char[] data type.

    From this point on, I now own the char[] data type. It cannot be used in any code, commercial or otherwise, without my express written consent. Any existing code written using char[] is also subject to patent infringement. Anyone found using char[] in their software will be sued for $60,000 per compiled executable. To save on the agony of lwayers, court dates, etc I ask that anyone using char[] just confess now and mail me your $60,000 checks.

    Thank You.
  • In general I stand in favor of patents, though some are completely abused. I don't think that a company should be allowed to patent something, not enforce violations for years, and then start making a big stink after the technology is well entrenched (LZW, MP3, etc... RSA, so far as I know, has been protected by RSA, which made companies create the DH alternative).

    But this, I think, is absurd. They're basically saying they've patented the idea of knowing their customers and of adding conviences to the shopping experience. So far as I remember, the feature was in place more than a year ago. I didn't look, but i also don't remember seeing anything like "patent-pending technology" or anything.

    Besides that, if it's been out for over a year, I thought they had to do something to start the filing process to protect themselves. They didn't, they just released the technology and later patented it. I think every website in the world should step forward and say "hey, we track our customers, too. We store information about them that they choose to give us."

    Who cares if that info is a credit card number or a username/login? The underlying technique of storing relevant info in a cookie on the client machine and looking up the appropriate data on in a database somewhere is not new, and though it was probably a breakthrough at the time, it was a logical extension of where the internet was going.

    B&N better not even think of settling. I'll switch completely to them if they duke it out with Amazon.
  • You know, Slashdot is very similar to one click shopping. I enter my username, password, moderation preferences, sidebar preferences, etc. Then when I go to Slashdot, I get information (which Amazon implicitly admits is a product, since it tried to patent it). I'm not charged for the information. But is that a big enough difference to actually warrant a patent. I could one-click-shop for info on Slashdot before Amazon was doing it.

    A helpful lawyer gave some info on software patents. Does anyone know how one would go about trying to void a patent?
  • Maybe Slashdotters can help B&N find prior art, not for the sake of the health of their business, but because this case seems to be about to get a lot of media coverage, so maybe it will attract more attention to this problem
  • Have you looked at your slashdot cookies lately? Taco seems to have not only my visa number and my high school gpa but also my income bracket, ssn, religion, sexual preference, AND the last time I brushed my teeth. Take a look at your cookies, it gave me a chuckle yesterday.
  • Does anyone have a concrete, documented example of prior art? That's what B&N need (IANAL, but that much is obvious). This is probably the biggest thing that /. readers can do to help this case... now, what's the e-mail address of the B&N legal team?

    etc
  • Hopefully as little will come of this patent case as came of that.

    NO! On the contrary -- hopefully this thing will go the length: all the way to a court battle where the patent is finally thrown out as the overly broad nonsense it is -- within full view of country, press, and (insert favorite diety).

    Perhaps then the USPTO will (1) get resources to better deal with patents, (2) be overhauled, (3) or be legislated to stop granting software patents.

  • Amazon could quite easily turn a profit selling things. The reason they're continuously in the red is because they're acquiring a stake in or outright buying more and more other companies (drugstore.com for example), and adding new aspects to the business (electronics, greeting cards, toys, etc.). The more they expand, the more they have to spend.

    Do you think Wall Street is stupid? Companies that stay in the red do not continue to rise, bull market or not, unless investors see something in the way they do business.

    Read a financial publication once and a while.

    - Orange Julius
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:42AM (#1594551)
    I recommend that SlashDot change all of its book links from Amazon.com to BN.com in protest of this ridiculous patent suit. SlashDot participates in Amazon's affiliate program. By pointing at Amazon, SlashDot is a party to this outrage.
  • by Enoch Root (57473) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:43AM (#1594552)
    Man, you'd wish companies had learned anything. Anyone remember the same story going on in the 80's? Atari sueing Intellivision for producing game platforms. Atari claimed they had the patent on any sort of electronic game using computer graphics.

    But the trouble is, a good idea has a way to spread, and it ends up being futile to try to cling on to it. Not only that, it deprives consumers of quality service. In the end, companies doing this try to cling to an artificially maintained consummer base, but it ends up eroding up and the idea spreads around.

    I think Amazon realises that. There's plenty of other companies doing this also, and certainly not just online bookstores. I know Chapters.ca does it (they store your credit card info, so you only have to enter it once; buying a book takes one click, and you're processing to checkout.)

    I think what Amazon is doing is trying to hurt the competition by dragging them into a lawsuit. I don't think they care if they win or not. They're projecting the image that they invented a novel system, and that BnN is copying them for their success.

    So, let's not expect a dramatic turn of events; either they settle this out of court, as a way to calm the flames, or Amazon wins. But no one, not the CEO's, not the lawyers, not the judges, will once realise the concept of software patent is crap. They'll just use it as law fodder, and be happy with it.

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • Patent laws in the US are quite clearly getting out of control. It would appear to me that this centres on the ability of one company to beat other companies to filing a patent on the implimentation of an open standard.

    What does '1-Click! actually do? A user enters information about their shipping and billing addresses and credit card number into a form on a website which results in the data being stored in a database. A cookie is then set in the browser which eases the heavy burden of re-entering the data again. Oh my God! This is clearly a ground breaking, technologically superior implimentation of cookies and databases. I have never seen anything like this ever!

    Seriously though, the judge does need to tke some technical briefings before makeing a ruleing in this case as it could mean the end of anyone else using cookies if the judgment isn't carefully worded. Argh! I'll have to enter my nickname and password every time I visit /. ! Oh no!
  • Brings up an interesting issue: Would B&N rather lose this battle or other patents they might hold? Better question: Does B&N even hold any other software patents? I'll bet, if they do, it's not many. So, in that case, they're really the perfect body to go to the courts saying, "Hey, all software patents are crap" because, while they have a vested interest in getting rid of this one in particular, they don't have a lot to lose in the long-run.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I've had an idea for a technology that I think will revolutionize computing. I call the notion, "Stored Program Computing". Basicly, instead of having seperate data areas for data & program instructions, you have one large array of memory and store both data AND computer programs there. With clever encoding, it will be easy for the CPU to tell the difference between data & instructions. I predict this will lead to an incredible increase in computer useasbility. It will facilitate another idea I've had, which I call "Time Sharing" (we'll swap programs/data in and out of memory allowing many users or processes to share the same computer).

    Apparently, back in the '50s, some obscure electrician named Von Newbie (or something like that) had a similar idea, which is why I'm flying off to Norway, where it doesn't matter who comes up with the idea first, only who files the patent first.

    Naturally, I'm going to have vigorously defend my patent, demanding royalties from manufacturers who have created products using my tech, software vendors who write software taking advantage of my design, and users (Remember: it takes two to violate my patent, one thieving corporation to build the device, and another to use it)

    Thank you, and I'll be expecting my royalty checks soon!

    Dana
  • by scumdamn (82357) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:49AM (#1594560)
    Rob, patent "One Click Posting". Then patent "One click Meta-Moderating". You'd make a fortune.
    Here's another one (a freebie).
    Patent Pending:
    First post.
    A method of annoying both posters and readers by posting to Slashdot with first post in the subject line. Post must have very little content and not mention Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified (no gifs because of patent problems).
  • FIRST PATENT!
  • Just look at BN's web site, almost identical to Amazon's, same style , same feature, give me some variety, people!!
  • by jetson123 (13128) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:52AM (#1594564)
    If you don't like Amazon's behavior, let them know don't buy from them. I canceled my account and am going to shop for books elsewhere.

    I view Amazon's behavior as being rather similar to a neighborhood polluter: their emissions may be under the legal limit, but they are still a nuisance; would you buy from them and support them? (Actually, from an economic point of view, bad patents and the lawsuits they engender are quite similar to pollution as well.)

  • by Ratface (21117) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:52AM (#1594565) Homepage Journal
    Doubt it will accomplish much, but I sent the following polite letter to feedback@amazon.com - maybe you would like to send a POLITE letter too??


    Dear Sir / Madam,

    I am writing to complain about Amazon's use of overreaching software patents.

    Patent No. 5960411 for 1-Click, is an example of a patent that has been awarded completely out of place. The concept that lies behind 1-Click is in no way new to Amazon, or unique. Using such a patent simply to harass your business competitors is in my opinion an extremely low way of doing business. Such patents serve simply to supress programmers from finding more effective solutions to problems.
    Do you really expect that anyone who wishes to develop such a system must come to you for permission before commencing programming? Especially when there are so many existing versions of this system on the net?

    It is a shame that a company who symbolise for many the success of the Web as a business medium feel compelled to resort to such low tactics to stay ahead in the race for market share.

    I hope that the use of this patent by Amazon will result in so much negative publicity, that you will not be tempted to use such crass measures in the future. How much more positive it would have been if Amazon could instead have joined in lobbying the US Patent Office against the granting of such broad patents.

    Yours sincerely

    Steve Cook


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunately what will really happen is that the case will be settled with both parties retaining the right to use 1-Click leaving the patent holder free to sue the rest of us. Nothing monumental is going to come out of this.
  • You mean like any of the textbook examples in Chapter 5 of Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C [oreilly.com]
  • Is it my imagination or are companies rushing to patent concepts which are more marketing features than any real "innovations". If that is the case, then the market is the place to decide, not the legal systme. While it may be disappointing to the class of patent lawyers, is it too radical a concept for companies to be competing on their execution rather than trying to spoil the ground around them? People might be interested in an article [fastcompany.com] which points out the benefits of cooperation rather than the paranoid dog-eat-dog world. Perhaps too much competition indicates that the field is not big enough (ie profitable) to support that many companies and its a signal that resources are better deployed elsewhere (one reason why capitalism is more economically efficient).

    One problem with governments is that they can effectively define monopolies. Could the patent system be replaced by a more market driven system based on property rights? One can point to the media industry where you have song-writer creative rights which require recognition and further payment from films and other down-stream activities. Perhaps OpenSource software could provide certification rights or distribution rights? It would certainly benefit companies who are thinking about the opensource route but are relunctant to see the fruits of their efforts being appropriated without fair compensation. At the very least, it would reduce overheads due to non-core activities (e.g. legal liability) and perhaps let smaller firms florish.

    LL
  • I agree.

    I don't use certain operating systems because I don't agree with the philosophies of the corporations behind them. Likewise, I will not use Amazon.com anymore because I cannot support their policies.

    I would hope that for the sake of self consistency, /. would stop supporting amazon too.

    Jeremy
  • by Anonymous Coward
    to: bezos@amazon.com

    Dear Amazon.com operations officer,

    In response to a rumor regarding a patent and law suit relating to 1 click shopping, please delete all information regarding me, Anymymous Coward, my visa information, etc from your databases. I will no longer be shopping at amazon.

    Good timing too; 100% of my e-shopping this upcoming holiday will NOT occur at amazon. A quick review of my records indicates that I've
    spent approximately $x (or more) in the past year at your store. It was good while it lasted, but you obviously think you're the first company
    to associate valuable resource commitments with a single click.

    Bye bye amazon! I hope that gaping hole in your collective feet isn't too uncomfortable.

    Good luck,
    Anonymouse Coward
  • i agree that b&n have a good position, maybe the best so far, to argue against software patents in general. the problem will be convincing them of this fact and then convincing them to follow through with it. i agree that they probably dont have much to lose if anything, but do they have that much to gain? they would likely have to commit extra money and Lawyer Hours to arrange their case against all software patents rather than just the "1-Click" stuff, and the only perceivable gains for them would be avoiding things like this in the future. that gain alone may not be enough to get them involved...

    --Siva

    Keyboard not found.
  • by Wanker (17907) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:58AM (#1594575)

    It is as bad as it seems.

    Patent number 5,960,411 [164.195.100.11]-- you can read the entire patent document from this link.

    Claim 1 (of 26):

    1. A method of placing an order for an item comprising: under control of a client system, displaying information identifying the item; and 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; under control of a single-action ordering component of the server system, receiving the request; retrieving additional information previously stored for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request; and 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 fulfilling the generated order to complete purchase of the item whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model.

    Whew! Talk about a run-on sentence. Good thing legalese != English.

    It'll be interesting to see how this works out. Normally in these kind of cases, it's a Big Boy going after someone without the resources to defend themselves. Barnes and Noble certainly has the wherewithall to bring this to court if their lawyers think they have a chance. However, I suspect that they'll just roll over and pay royalties to Amazon.

    Very sad.

  • Some thoughtful AC, who really should be moderated up, suggested a class action lawsuit vs. the USPTO.

    >I say we get a class action lawsuit put together
    >against the US patent office for negligence in >what patents they allow to be registered.

    IANAL and don't know how feasible this is, or realistic, but given patenets such as this, who knows? Someone moderate that up....

    itachi
  • To: feedback@amazon.com
    Subject: Stop lying about "1-Click"

    Dear Madam or Sir,

    I am a prior customer of Amazon, and also software developer for business Web sites. Today I had a visceral reaction when I read that Amazon is filing lawsuits because of a patent on "1-Click". You may be able to fool a lot of people, but you can't fool those of us who work in this industry. The idea that Amazon has a prior claim to technology that stores and re-uses cutomer information is one of the most brazenly dishonest things I've ever heard. You're lying, and you know it.

    Cease and desist from this nonsense, or I will most certainly never buy any products from you again.


    Regards,
    ....
  • Wonder if the patent office will be sued over the patent.The shopping cart [164.195.100.11] is at the top of the page.
  • by Szoup (61508)
    Sorry, but I gave up breathing some time back. Server your subpoena somewhere else.

    Hmmm. a subpoena server. Would certainly gain a lot of business in legal circles. Maybe I can patent it...

    -------------------------------------------
  • Let's hope the judge is sensible in this case.

    The judge probably is sensible. That's not the problem. The problem is that most people, which probably includes 99% of judges, don't really know how any of this computer stuff works. If people did know how any of this stuff works, we wouldn't see all of the dumb software patents that we've been seeing, for things like digital music and "1-click technology".

    The ignorance of the general public is what Amazon is relying on, and they're probably ok doing so.

    But they've definitely ensured that I'm not going to buy anything from them. Ever.

    C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes it harder, but when you do, you blow off your whole leg - Bjarne Stroustrup

  • ...only I think Priceline has a better case. Priceline is suing Microsoft over what a patent it calls it's 'reverse auction business practice'. Sounds kind of hokey to me, but I think they have a chance.

    Priceline gave a ton of technical information to Microsoft about their business. The founder of Priceline met with Expedia's chairman and Bill Gates to discuss a cooperative relationship. Then Microsoft backed out when Priceline wouldn't sell them any shares below the IPO price. Interesting note from Bloomberg is that Gates is reported (by Priceline lawyers... take it as you will) as saying that he wasn't going to let patent infringement get in their way, because so many other companies were suing Microsoft for the same thing, Priceline would have to "get in line".

    In this case, though, I seriously doubt that bn.com and Amazon got together to discuss anything mutually beneficial, since they've been suing each other since day one about silly things like which one is "Earth's biggest bookstore" and the like. And I think if they came up with it independently, and implement it even remotely dissimilar on either end, they're going to win the suit.

    I think it's pretty clear that they're targeting bn.com because they're a rival. There are a slew of other internet sites that use this 1-Click / Express Lane idea. It's not as cutting edge as they'd like to think.

    - Orange Julius
  • actually, 'thousands of hours' would seem to indicate a multiple of a thousand greater than one. 1,600 doesn't qualify. see that one there?
    Actually it is a multiple of thousands. 1.6 to be exact. And last I checked 1.6 is greater than one. Besides the point is that even two thousand hours is not that much in buisiness sense.

    Oh and 13 people would be a lot at my funeral.
    -cpd
  • You're right.
  • Hmm,
    I think I'm gonna patent saving user data on a server.

    Hey, Rob, you owe me license fees :-)
  • What we as slashdot readers ought to do is band together. The easiest way to make a patent now-a-days is to just stick the word web or the letter in front of everything and you can have a patent for it.

    Now we can have great things like eToaster, which is obviously *much* better than standard Toasters. Why is this? Because you can use a web browser to do an electronic transaction with your eToaster from your webbed(patent pending) to order some Toast.com.

    Not only all this, but I think we could patent concepts too. How about eLogic? Heck why settle for that when we could patent the entire language with webEnglish!

    Another thing that I find tiresome is companies that insist on being 'savy' by putting .com at the end of their name so they appear to be one company, but they are in reality something else. Why don't we create companies like cocacola.com or intel.com it makes sense to me!

    So why not do Amazon.com one better. We can create a e-one-click-shopping and we'll create Amazon.com.com, that'll show 'em!

    I guess this finishes my e-rant. Till next time!

  • It seems everyone thinks the patent thing is getting out of hand. Why don't we the consumers send companies like amazon.com a message and get our products from somewhere else. Its not like Amazon.com is the only place to buy books.
  • I hand my VISA card and signature to underpaid kids in the mall so that security's already shot. I really hope no one gets hold of my /. profile though. That would be disastrous.

    "How's this for a compelling sig?"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps Amazon is counting the hours of each monkey it had sitting at a terminal writing code, and the hours of one guy checking to see if any of them accidentally made it work.
  • I think I'll patent two-click shopping. You know, since things will get more complicated over time.
  • It is not relavent whether they had the technology before the patent was issued.

    They had to have had the technology before the patent was filed, this would constitute 'prior art' and invalidate the patent. Even if they didn't they can prove that someone else had the technology, or that it was in common use. Thus constituting 'prior art' and rendering the patent invalid.
  • As an ethical decision on your part, I think this is a great idea.

    As a strategy to modify Amazon's behavior, I'm not so sure it's worth the trouble. Even well-publicized boycotts are seldom effective --and if Amazon doesn't even know why you stopped shopping there, there's no chance they'll factor your feelings into their decisions.

    At the very least, if you feel this strongly about it, send them an e-mail, make a phone call or write a letter.

    And if everyone who agrees with your post sends a similar message, it might even hit Bezos' radar.
  • OK....everyone does the One-Click thing. Why not just make a button that you have to click twice? This would be a slap in the face to Amazon....set up something like:

    Click Here to Order button
    You click, and another window comes up saying, "Are you sure you want to purchse (product)?" With an "Yes" button and a "No" button. Click on "Yes" and it makes the purchase.
  • This whole lawsuit just made my mind up that I won't ever use Amazon.com again. Maybe we should all start showing we care by voting with our pocketbooks- next time you are going to buy a book try fatbrain.com [fatbrain.com] or some other competetor.

    Now I know Amazon.com isn't the only company to engage in this type of practice (laughable lawsuits which go against any principle of a free and open web), but they seem to do an outstanding job of it.

    It is this type of thing that exemplifies the trend of turning a great technology into a cash cow for a few mis-guided CEO's who didn't use the web until the mid 90's.
  • If it is true that your compsany has had this since 91, and you can prove it, for gods sake contact B&N's legal department and make them aware of it. same goes for everyone else who knows about prior art.
    help them make the patent invalid though the court case. so then we dont have to whine about this particular patent anymore, and we can start whining about other software patents.

    palop
  • by Signal 11 (7608) on Friday October 22, 1999 @06:20AM (#1594598)
    Okay, help me out with my math -
    Install rh6 (w/ apache). ~35m
    Add ssl support,recompile. ~20m
    Install mod_php3 ~1m
    Install pgsql ~15m + setup
    Setup permissions, verify setup - ~20m
    Use cookie support in php3 to store any user data, or optionally use http authentication. ~0m use, ~3hr/devel (if you don't know about FM)
    Webpage setup - could take up to a week, ~40h

    There you have it.. a total of up to 50 hrs. Now Amazon thinks it spent thousands of hours on that? How many meetings did they force their developers to sit in on instead of doing real work? :) And about that "single-click" shopping - see also the whole point of http cookies - to store persistent information on a remote machine! This meets two of the criterion mentioned in a recent /. article - obviousness and prior work. I bet I could prove both. :^)

    --

  • Uh, no it's not.

    What's better?

    1. A company reporting zero net income, with no products or services in its pipeline, dead-end current products and services, no potential new customers, and no industry hype?

    2. A company reporting losses in the millions, with a huge customer base, a huge number of potential new customers, millions of dollars in R&D and marketing, tons of industry hype (both good and bad), brand name recognition, and a continuous stream of new products?

    If you chose number one, then thank you for playing, Mr. Buffett.

    - Orange Julius
  • I think, at least in the case of Amazon, the whole patent thing was simply a mechanism to, hopefully, stick it to B&N. Amazon took the risk with the online bookstore, and B&N simply went ahead to copy it and claim THEY innovated.

    Of course, the downside is that if the patent DOES stick, it's a dangerous precedent.

    Harry
  • where doing something very similar also. i say sue me. there is no such thing as bad press. besides, we've got a few lawyer connections that'll keep'm busy for a few years.
  • I think microsoft already has a patent on 2 click practices. Example:

    "Are you sure you want to delete the file?"
    "Are you sure you want to shutdown?"

    =)
    "We hope you find fun and laughter in the new millenium" - Top half of fastfood gamepiece
  • The lawyers are the ones who drive this nonsense. Big big big bucks to be made by legal teams by suing a large company.

    I think a judge should be able to fine lawyers who take cases like these. Let them spend hours upon hours getting the case toghther then march them into court and tell them:
    "I find this to be a complete and utter waste of my time, I'm fining you $100,000."

    I know it's silly but it would make laywers think twice before accepting a frivolous case if they thought they would get nailed for it.
  • Change your mind in public, and the moderators dock you. Go figure...
  • Good idea. One question: How? I've logged in, but can't find cancel account anywhere in the list. Or did you just mail them asking to delete your account?
  • Actually you owe them around 2500 dollars. You see that is just the base fee. By posting on slashdot, you have entered into a per seat category and will be thusly billed. Is thusly even a word?


    "We hope you find fun and laughter in the new millenium" - Top half of fastfood gamepiece
  • Don`t just mail Amazon to say how crap this is. Mail Barnes & Noble as well, and tell them you support their fighting this lawsuit.
  • will amazon sue other companies or the only reason they did that was to attack bn?

    i suspect the latter. i hope there is still smth decent left in amazon that will stop them from trying to get money by suing someone that is not their direct competitor....

    we'll see..
  • by syntax (2932) on Friday October 22, 1999 @06:33AM (#1594613) Homepage
    Maybe you've forgotten, but there was a time back before B&N and Amazon went wild and dominated books. Remember those little local bookstores? All of them in my area are gone. I say instead of support B&N (Which has more than its share of stupid lawsuits btw), go out and buy books from your local dealer.
  • by Wah (30840)
    ..let them know why you are doing it. Customers walk away from stores all the time, unless a company knows they are doing something that annoys people they will not change that behaviour. If they find a number of people leaving for the same reason, change is inevitable.
  • Doesn't the federal government have some sort of exemption form class action lawsuits ? I would be surprised if they don't.

    Nice idea though. There has to be some campaign for changing the appalling state of patent law. It's not just the US either, but it's probably worst there, and the US pressures other countries into going along with their take on IP issues. The problem is that these stupid laws hurt everybody. Furthermore, it's not at all obvious how badly they hurt people. Silly patents like this make everybodies lives worse in a million minor ways. Oh, so now I have to enter credit information every time I buy something from a particular company. It's not the kind of thing people get passionate about. Nobody can estimate the true cost of inappropriate patents.

    However, when laws hurt a small number of powerful companies they form an effective lobby to bribe congressmen with campaign contributions in no time. Any attempt to change patent laws will recieve an effective counter attack from the few large companies that actually benefit from them.

    "Democracy is coming to the USA" - Leonard Cohen


  • Not necessarily. Simply by changing their focus in the case from "1-Click is crap" to "All software patents are crap therefore 1-Click is crap" they could set a precedent (if they did, in fact, win) against software patents. It wouldn't be then end-all, but it's a start. Anyway, I'm not even close to being a lawyer (simple software engineer) so I can't honestly say that I know what the heck I'm saying.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Took the above person's advice, and here was my contribution, feel free to steal whatever you like:

    I am writing to express my disappointment with your recent suing of Barnes and Noble over the alleged infringements to your 1 click shopping method. Patents like this do not advance business on the interenet, nor does their use as a weapon in harming your nearest competitors during the critical christmas season.

    I don't think anyone with any technical aptitude will agree with you that the 1-click shopping technology is either difficult to develop or original, so I'm not really sure what you hope to gain in this pursuit.

    As your leader likes to remind us in interviews, success online is as much about mindshare and brand as it is technology, and you are most definately alienating any person with technical knowledge from your brand with this move.

    I would perhaps threaten to stop buying things from your site, but I long ago decided to do that when you started ramming beanie babies and hula-hoops down my throat.

    You're the market leader by a long shot, why don't you act like it and play fair.

    Matt
    Hotnutz.com [hotnutz.com]
  • This isn't a patent on an obscure technological or mathmatic thing that won't make sense to a layman, like the LZW or MP3 patents. This is an extremely obvious thing that any dimwit (in other words, judges and jurors) will be able to understand.

    If B&N decides to fight in court instead of settling, it seems like this case would have a better chance of getting a "this patent is a joke" ruling, than many other cases.

    And that would be good. It would be nice to have a high-profile software-patent-overturned ruling on the record.


    ---
  • I intend to send a letter of support of principle to B&N. I think it's just as important to tell them to fight this, as it is for Amazon to stop it. I also sent a letter to Amazon as follows:

    To whom it may concern,

    I was aware that Amazon acquired a patent on it's so-called "One-click" shopping. Further, it has come to my attention that you have started enforcing this patent.

    Although I have spent in the upper hundreds through your site, and have truly appreciated the ease of searching and finding books that I was interested in, this approach to competition dismays me. I disagree, in principle, about patenting software, and in patenting "business models" and although the USPTO allows it, I believe this is something that you should not do.

    I assume it is not useful for me to explain all my concerns about the particular state of patent law, however, I sincerely hope it is useful for me to explain that I will not be shopping at Amazon as long as you engage in business in this manner.

    Sincerely,

  • Remember when Amazon.com, then a puny enterprise, was sued by B&N for being the "World's Biggest Bookstore"?

    At that point, I vowed to never, ever buy anything from Barnes & Noble's web site. (I even boycotted B&N stores for about a month, but that one didn't stick -- the stores are just too useful).

    I'm appalled by this type of lawsuit. Makes me think I should go buy my next book order from B&N, for they are now both acting like bullies.

    (Of course I won't, because they use Windows(tm) servers, but maybe I'll find an entirely different company that's worthy of my patronage).

    Any suggestions? Sadly, fatbrain.com uses Microsoft stuff, and my hatred for companies using Microsoft junkware exceeds even that of people putting forth silly lawsuits. But it's a close-run thing.

    D

    ----
  • A file has been changed. In order for the changes to take effect, you must restart your computer.

    Do you want to restart now?

    Yes -- No

    --
    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

  • by Jamie Zawinski (775) <jwz@jwz.org> on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:39AM (#1594668) Homepage


    This is so sad, but it was probably inevitable. Amazon is a big company now, which means it's controlled by the lawyers. Remember, kids: big companies don't innovate!

    I'm good friends with the guy who implemented one-click shopping (he refers to it as ``the money vaccuum.'') But I won't let that stop me -- I'm still not shopping there any more.

    Here's the letter I sent them. I encourage all of you to send letters of your own. (But don't just cut-and-paste someone else's letter, they can tell...)

    ---------------------------------

    • To: feedback@amazon.com [mailto]
      Subject: patent suit ==> losing customers

      You have finally gone too far.

      When you started spamming me, I was irritated, but didn't much care, since at least you gave me a way to unsubscribe. When you started selling your customers' private information down the river, I was irritated, but didn't much care, because I'm not overly concerned about my privacy. But now you've finally lost me as a customer.

      Why? Because you asked for, and were awarded, a 17-year monopoly on the concept of "one-click shopping", because that idea is apparently such an innovation, such a breakthrough, that you never would have gone into business without the incentive of federally-mandated exclusive rights.

      As if that wasn't bad enough, now you are sueing Barnes and Noble for adding a similar feature to their web site. So much for the bullshit apology one often hears of "we only have patents for defensive purposes, in case someone bigger and stronger sues us for patent infringement first."

      Amazon.com is a great web site, far better than any other online store I've used. But I will not be using it again. I will either use other web sites, or make more trips to physical stores from now on.

      Convenience is nice, but I don't feel good giving my money to anticompetitive parasites who succeed because of their lawyers rather than the quality of their products and services.

      The real shame of it is that your services are *good*. You don't need to compete this way. It's sad, and sickening.

      Software patents are far more of a threat to competition and innovation than anything Microsoft has ever done.

      Goodbye.

  • A method of placing an order for an item comprising: under control of a client system, displaying information identifying the item; and 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; ... and corresponding server.

    Question: isn't this exactly the interface on some dealers' screens for securities and foreign exchange trading ?

    One of the options the dealer has is to get a list of all the share parcels being bid or offered at the current instant, any of which he/she can accept with a single click. The patent's main claims are written so broadly (with essentially no reference to the internet, except later as a possible implementation), it seems to me that should blow them away.

    Can anyone confirm the existence of such a system, or (better) offer B&N a printed user manual ?

  • by remande (31154) <remande@@@bigfoot...com> on Friday October 22, 1999 @11:04AM (#1594684) Homepage
    There may be some prior art. Some seriously prior art.

    The client system is a VT-series dumb terminal. The single action is the act of logging in (not one click, but still...work with me here). The additional information previously stored is the /etc/passwd file and various other sysadminly trivia.

    The product? CPU cycles. Remember when you had to pay by the clock for mainframe use?

  • If B&N wanted to post such a "bogus software patent" defense, they could well put up a defense fund for this and ask for assistance.

    Since there are a lot of companies out there with a vested interest in the death of BSPs, some of them might want to express that interest financially, to save themselves lawsuits in the long run.

    It's the ultimate perversion: Open Source Legalism.

  • It seems to me that you're being a little forgetful of the past. Here's what I remember: Right after Barnes and Nobles finally got around to getting online, the first thing they did was go out, and I'm talking about, within DAYS, and sue Amazon for advertising themselves as the largest online bookstore.

    My opinion is, good for Amazon. They were small and Barnes and Nobles came and tried to kick around the little guy. I'm not a big believer in software patents, but I'm a believer in justifiable revenge.

    Good for Amazon. I hope they kick Barnes and Noble's butt on this. I've refused to shop at B&N since they sued Amazon. Amazon was ground breaking and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. They'll have to do a lot worse to get me on their bad side.

  • Hmm, interesting argument (accually made me have to waist a few clock cycles thinking about it (no, I'm not a bot)). But I tend to think of buisnesses as legal adult entities, meaning they try not to act like children. Legel revenge in the form of counter-suits is one thing, I might have even supported Amazons use of this patent if it had been used in such a manor.. and I mean might. But, the problem here is if Amazon wins such a suit, they will most likly immediently go after other online retailers with the knowledge that the same outcome would likly be had.
  • Sue the patent office? Accually I asked a lawyer friend of mine about this a few weeks (ok not an accual lawyer but he's in his last year of law school so he knows plenty). It was stated by him that government entities have soverignty and basically can not be sued unless they want to, which is effectivly never. Remember the thing on slashdot the other week about states not having to conform to copyright, its the same general reason. Well accually you can sue government, but at any point in time they can state soverigty, and the case will instantly be dismissed unless its a case of civil rights or a few other such things, and even then you have to get the federal government to step in.
  • Or how bout a mysterious investment from the slashdot foundation to pay for some legal fees :) heheh
  • As I'm no in the mood to type it again.
    my comment [slashdot.org]

    but basically because of government soverignty you can't sue government entities. :( :( :( :(
  • Well accually, don't you remember amazons thing a few months ago of providing agregate information on company employees book buying habits. At first they insisted there will not be an opt out option. The thing appeared on slashdot, we yelled and screamed about how this was a privacy violation, it eventually got into a few mainstream media stores, and people where protesting amazon left and right. Now you have the option to opt out. One would think Amazon has learned its lesson already, or atleast pays attention to slashdot. Hope for a recanter by monday! :)
  • SomeGuy (changed to protect the messenger)
    Amazon.com


    FYI, I know someone who works at amazon.com customer service. 99 percent of responses, including the one you recieved, are form replies, slightly customized. Don't bother flaming the people who answer the e-mails. They doesn't care...really. Your letter won't even make them feel bad. It's a pretty low paying and mindless job and, chances are, no one who matters will see your e-mail. The simple fact that you object to the patent/lawsuit, however, will probably filter up the ranks. Specifics of your clever insult will not. Now if we could find Jeff Bezos' e-mail address... :)

    Seriously, your best bet is a short, succinct, polite objection. Anything more and you're wasting keystrokes.

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