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Amazon One-Click Patent to be Re-Examined 132

timrichardson writes "A New Zealand actor, frustrated by a poor shopping experience, has successfully requested that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review the correctness of Amazon's infamous One-Click patent. An examiner for the agency ruled that the re-examination requested by Peter Calveley had raised a 'substantial new question of patentability' affecting Amazon's patent, according to a document outlining the agency's decision."
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Amazon One-Click Patent to be Re-Examined

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  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muellerr1 ( 868578 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:32AM (#15364955) Homepage
    I hope this is a precendent: maybe the patent system, broken as it is, will slowly get fixed over time by constant vigilant review of bogus patents.

    Now we just need them to quit issuing the crappy ones in the first place.
  • First post (Score:2, Funny)

    by gusmao ( 712388 )
    first post! (patent pending)
  • Great, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    OK, so maybe there was a prior patent, but why is there any patent on a "single clisk to buy it" business process? That's just stupid in the extreme.
    • Was Amazon supposedly using the One-Click to buy when Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Wallet? Also, in Site Server 3.0 I believe, there was a process for single click purchases through their Ad Manager. I guess I need to do research on when the patent was supposedly developed - but this is something we've seen through so many different websites I don't think it should be valid.
    • What's more, even after the insane patent was granted, this still should have had a stake put in it seven years ago. If an infringing system can be made non-infringing simply by adding superfluous complexity to the infringing apparatus, then the patent (whether Amazon's or some predecessor's) is devoid of any recognizable intellectual property:

      "In 1999, Amazon obtained an injunction that forced rival bookseller barnesandnoble.com to go to two clicks"

      So there you have it. Unless the USPTO vacates this

      • "Well duh. For all the ink that's been spilt on this issue, I'm amazed that all it took was a dude from New Zealand willing to throw a few grand at the problem to get it reviewed. Krikey!"

        All the groupthink, anti-this.or.that that is abundant on slashdot - It has been my own personal experience that in a capitalistic society such as the United States, money is what makes things happen. Everything else pales in comparison...Including benevolent virtues, doing the Right Thing, etc.
    • Re:Great, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:34AM (#15365385) Journal
      What's important to note is why this particular patent, even more so than other software patents, is stupid. It's stupid because it doesn't patent *how* you accomplish something, just *that* you accomplish it. It would be like patenting "computing numbers quickly" rather than patenting "a specific chip that can compute numbers quickly".
      • Well, close... They do patent a "how", but the "what" is "buying something online". And then the how is "with but a single click!". This is one of the dumbest patents, but you'd better believe it was written by a big fat team of competent attorneys.
  • one click... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:36AM (#15364978) Journal
    they guy is gettiong revenge because a book took too long - he doesn't even have any real interest in this "tech". Still, I really dislike the "one click" idea anyway because you cna end up buying things without realising thinking that you would actaully get to confirm and review the purchase - I think what amazon forced on it's competitor is better than what they use.
    Further, this makes me wonder how on earth this actually got made into a patent anyway it is far too general and doesn't have any novelty to it; also, it's not really a "tech" is it, it's a button - and they've existed for ages
    • Re:one click... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:44AM (#15365041) Journal

      From the article: Calveley wrote on his blog that his crusade is revenge for an "annoyingly slow" book delivery from Amazon. He used the blog to raise the $2,520 reexamination fee.

      Ok, while I agree the Amazon patent is suspect, I think this guy is in it more for the free publicity. He's an actor! I have things I ordered from all sorts of online places get to me annoyingly slow, which for me is any time interval less than instantaneous, but I haven't gone to court to have a patent re-examined over it!

      Does New Zealand have a small claims court, because that's where I would have sued them for the amount I spent on the book, plus some damages to keep them honest. Hell, it probably would have gone unopposed; you think Amazon is goijng to waste a couple thousand bucks on lawyers fees when they might settle it for a couple of hundred? No, this guy's in it to boost his profile, not because he's doing anyone a favor.

      • Yep He's had a amazing long career http://msn-uk.imdb.com/name/nm1342014/ [imdb.com]

        err, even that was uncredited ... http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2003-03-1 9-mocap_x.htm [usatoday.com]

        I think he should be known as the Uncreditted Virtual Actor.

        So far his publicity exceeds his acting career ... or IS his publicity his creditted acting career?
      • Who cares. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:11AM (#15365216) Homepage Journal
        People seem to be spending a lot of time concentrating on this guy's motivation.

        I really don't understand why. Why should I care what his motivation is? The point is that he got the USPTO to re-examine a dumb patent. If it did it for the publicity or to hawk his blog or because he thinks it'll speed up the Second Coming of Jesus, I don't really care. Hooray for him, in any case; the point is that the action he took was good, irrespective of the motive.

        I'm not going to fault him because he was doing it for publicity. Maybe if a few more people did what he's doing -- for publicity or whatever reason -- we'd have a few less shitty patents floating around.

        In fact, if you want to hurt a company these days, you're better spent going after their patents than trying to take them to court directly, especially small-claims. So if there's a company you don't like, and you can get the dough together to force a re-examination of their patents, by all means please do so. I won't question why you're doing it, the point is that it gets done.
        • Yeah, but what suck is that he had to cough up $2200 to have a crappy patent re-examined. If it turns out to be invalidated, Amazon should be required to reimburse him!
          • That's very true. I would hope that's the case, although I doubt under our current system that it is.

            It would seem fair that if you call BS on somebody's patent, and it turns out you're right (and the patent was crap), they ought to foot the bill for the re-examination.

    • end up buying things without realising thinking that you would actaully get to confirm and review the purchase

      that actually happened to me, on amazon.com. I was fantasy shopping -- filling the cart to see how much I had to save up and that sort of thing -- and bought a book by mistake! It turns out, that I wanted the book. If I didn't, I could have just cancled it I suppose. But it was a fine excuse to get the book early without waiting for my allowance to recharge.

    • I think what amazon forced on it's competitor is better than what they use.

      You can use regular (checkout) type shopping with Amazon too. I don't have one-click turned on, for the same reasons you mention.
    • it's a button - and they've existed for ages

      Exactly - prior art. Soda machines have had one-click purchases for years. The guys who hold the patent on pressing a button on a soda machine should sue amazon.

      Oh wait, on Amazon you use a mouse to click, rather than pressing it with your finger... Oh wait, you press the mouse with your finger... I've just gone cross-eyed... =D
  • Fee, schmee (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grrr ( 16449 ) <cgrrr@grr[ ]et ['r.n' in gap]> on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:36AM (#15364990) Homepage Journal
    From the AP story via Yahoo! [yahoo.com] :

    Calveley wrote on his Web log that his crusade is revenge for an "annoyingly slow" book delivery from Amazon. He used the blog to raise the $2,520 reexamination fee.

    Dang - is that all it took? I'd be willing to throw some ad-click revenue toward getting some of these other ridiculous patents "reexamined"...

    (Irritating, but predictable, that someone has to pay, and the USPTO can't take the initiative to reexamine extremely controversial patents otherwise.)

    <grrr />
    • Check out H.R. 2795 on Thomas [loc.gov]. Especially Chapter 32, "Post-Grant Opposition Procedures". It gives anyone the right to challenge a patent claim's validity within 9 months of issue, provided evidence is presented and a fee is paid. Different people can simultaneously challenge different claims, if needed.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:38AM (#15365000)
    Can I patent the one-push power button?

    If so, noone will be able to even turn their computers ON without my consent. Muahhahahahaaaa!

    What other useless patents can we come up with?
  • It's about time that someone take the inititive to get patents on obvious technology examined. May this be precented for many other patents as well.
  • Shades of "Team America: World Police" aside, remind me to buy a ticket to whatever this guy [imdb.com] is in next.
  • I'm going to sue the New Zealand government to force them to re-examine the citizenship of Peter Calveley after his poor acting performance when he approached me posing as a woman outside of a bar in Auckland.

  • , highly educated and humanist perception on the patent matter, out of angst and frusturation at the behest of the greed going on around the sector :

    Fuck patents
  • by Macblaster ( 94623 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:45AM (#15365049) Homepage
    But the reason why it was granted and why they want to defend it to the end is because it buffers against buyer's regret. How many times have you added a book to your shopping cart, only to think about it, and then remove it. With One-Click, the item is already purchased at the first click, and it would take much more effort to go and cancel the order once thought about. Ingenious idea, and probably defendable under current patent law, unless of course the entire concept of patenting buisness models is done away with.
    • So what you're saying is, that from the consumers point of view, Amazon preventing other shops from implementing 1 click is actually beneficial?

      I don't know about you, but I'd rather have the chance to change my mind easily.
    • You are wrong because:
      _x_ total logical disconnect.

      Your arguement basically states that corruption is okay as long as it provides some benefit. That demonstrates an astounding level of audacity even the corporations haven't reached yet. Congratulations.
    • It's precisely for this reason that I never use one click on Amazon. Also, I like to see an order summary with shipping costs, etc. *before* I commit to buying.
    • Ingenious idea, and probably defendable under current patent law, unless of course the entire concept of patenting buisness models is done away with.

      Please explain what's ingenious about taking an action based on user input.

      No, really. Go ahead.

      • Ingenious to patent. Amazon saw their sales shoot up dramatically when they implemented the feature. Barnes and Noble, wanting to see the same result, now has to pay Amazon in order to do so, making having the buisness model and patenting the buisness model a twofold win for Amazon. Yes it's a simple matter of acting on user input, but most buisness model patents are mind numbingly simple and general, which is why I dont like the idea of them at all. Personally, I hope they're all thrown out, but because
    • +5 Interesting?

      First of all, tricking people into buying things before they're ready to is nothing but sleazy. Sure, lots of businesses do that. But it hardly deserves a patent. In any case, I think that amazon.com actually means it as a convenience feature. I'd never use 1-click myself, but I suppose some people must, or it would just disappear. You have to activate it to use it.

      Second, like software patents, business method patents are ridiculous (clue: please observe and memorize the correct spelli
      • Are you against all method patents? Why should a business method be treated any different than that method for some innovative method of molding plastic? There are a lot of business methods that exist that I would have considered patentable at the time. Frequent flyer miles? Drive up banking? These ideas when they first came on the scene were completely foreign and I don't see how you can say they are any different intuitively than a method for using a widget.
    • Huh? If the patent were declared invalid, Amazon could still use the one-click method described in the patent.
    • It's been a while since I used Amazon's one-click, but as I recall it puts the item in your basket and auto-buys it after a pre-set period of time (30 minutes?). It doesn't instantly purchase the item.
  • "We look forward to working with the examiners in the Patent and Trademark Office, and we welcome the opportunity to revalidate what we believe is an important innovation in e-commerce."

    important innovation as long as you are amazon.
  • Nice to see... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Garabito ( 720521 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:46AM (#15365055)
    In the related stories field, the original 1-click story from 1999 [slashdot.org]. It makes you feel it was just yesterday.

    • It's so fun to read posts like this one:

      Maybe this is a test case (Score:1)
      by rc-flyer (20492) on Friday October 22, @06:23AM (#1594515 [slashdot.org])
      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.

      I think I just snarfed some coffee. I had forgotten there had

  • Blogs can be useful (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:46AM (#15365058)
    This is Peter's more frequently updated blog [blogspot.com] than the one linked in the article. It has an update on the reexamination request. According to Peter, "The reexamination takes aims at claim 11 and some dependent claims, which in my opinion are the broadest and most restrictive claims in the patent. If Amazon can be made to narrow them, it could allow others to implement innovative and interesting ways of shopping with "one-click" (This isn't legal or professional advice- see the disclaimer below)."

    As the article points out, Peter raised the money necessary to pay the reexamination fee through donations. I don't know what his chances are of being successful, but it certainly shows that blogs can be useful in allowing more people to participate in processes that were previously mainly used by businesses. Maybe they'll raise the reexamination fee to keep up with technical progress. ;-)

  • From TFA:
    Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith issued the following response Thursday: "Amazon.com remains confident in the validity of its 1-Click patent, which enables customers to shop conveniently without having to enter their shipping and billing information each time they purchase. We look forward to working with the examiners in the Patent and Trademark Office, and we welcome the opportunity to revalidate what we believe is an important innovation in e-commerce."

    Who couldn't think of this stuff? There i

  • all clicks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _Shorty-dammit ( 555739 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:51AM (#15365086)
    This was definitely one of the more stupid patents, how on earth does it make sense that you can patent an amount of clicks? So, can I go patent two-click purchases? And three-click purchases? Right on up to 1,000,000-click purchases? So that nobody can buy anything without my piece of the pie coming my way? Freakin' ridiculous.
    • Re:all clicks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MindStalker ( 22827 )
      No.. One click is just the nickname for the patent. That patent covers storage of users Credit and Address info so you can order and have something delievered by a simple single click of an Order button.
      (Not that this is a bad patent, but the number of clicks is more of a side effect of the system and not the system itself)
      • oh please, the patent is beyond bad. A computer stores data, that's its job. And it allows you to do stuff with that data based on interactions with you. Hey! I know! Let's patent a computer storing data! And patent doing stuff with that data based on user interactions! Nobody's ever thought of that before!
        • F!! i meant to say Not that this "isn't" a bad patent. I was just attempting to explain it was more than just the one-click point, while not defending the patent itself.. :(
  • Click in browser address bar | "www.amazon.com" | Enter Key - 1 click Click in User Name box | "loginame" | Tab | "Password" | Click Login button | - 2 clicks Click in search box | "Author Name" | Click search button - 2 clicks Click on search result | Click on "1-Click Purchase" button - 2 clicks Total number of clicks requrie to use Amazon.com's 1-Click system : 7 Time to bring a false advertising suit.
  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:52AM (#15365098) Journal
    If this patent is wiped out, will Amazon have to reimburse companies like Apple who have licensed the "technology"?
    • I don't think so.

      I think this issue came up at one point during the whole RIM/NTP BlackBerry conflict. There was a point at which it looked like NTP's patents were going to get thrown out, and I believe the opinion then by knowledgeable individuals was that it would not affect the previous agreements between RIM and NTP that were reached when the patents had been valid.

      Perhaps there is some way for the USPTO to invalidate a patent retroactively, but I somehow doubt it. I think it only changes things going f
    • I think any lawyer worth his salt would realize that the entire patent was bullshit and accordingly built in one or more In the event of patent invalidation, dispute etc, all fees are still be long to us into the Licenses.
      • In a perfect world, legislation would be in place that would make such a clause unenforcable, and force the company that received licensing fees to repay them with interest and penalties.
  • Seems to me that this is the poster child for abolishing the whole category of Business Method patents. How can it be generalized to the whole category? Can it at all?
  • What's really sad is it took someone from New Zealand to be frustrated enough to do something about it. You'd hope with 365+ million people someone from the US would have gotten it re-examined.

    Not that I'm any better. I didn't do anything about it.
    • I didn't do anything either, but that included not ordering from Amazon.

      Of course, Ebay isn't a beacon of corporate warm-fuzziness, and now that they own half.com I can't feel good about buying books from a giant website anymore.

    • It is humorous isn't it. The story gets splashed all over /., is used as an example of why patents have gone to hell, and nobody appears to have done anything about it. Meanwhile, some actor gets pissed off, raises the money and does something. Doesn't bode well for /. at all.
    • Catch up with what other New Zealanders are doing at Planet NZTech [rancidbacon.com].
  • by FellowConspirator ( 882908 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:07AM (#15365190)
    In the early-to-mid 90's I attended an "Institute of Technology" where, among other things, I took the level 1 databases course. In that course we had various projects to do, one of which was to implement an "online shopping site".

    At that time, our design presumed that you'd set up your account with the retailer over the phone (mostly because we didn't want to get bogged down with the form handling, but also because the UI design was a minor part of this one assignment).

    So, we did what was obvious (and what several other people came up with) -- have someone login (no cookies back then) and use the HTTP basic authentication link the session to the customer record in the database. Next to each item, there was a button that said "put it on my tab" and did just that, stuck an entry in the database saying you wanted it. There was a script that could run on a periodic basis and rolled up a list of what was on who's tab and built an order from it.

    It seems to me that if a biology student taking a database class thought it was obvious then (to be fair, I had a partner who was an engineer), then it was obvious to anyone that did that sort of thing for a living. Do I have a record of the assignment? No. It never occurred to me to hold onto my old homework for more than a decade.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Come on.
    A signle-click purchase is not a matter of intelectual property.
    It is just the most logical way to sell any item over the internet, provided the user is logged in.

    I mean, why would anyone NOT deploy a single-click system???
    In other words... how can THERE BE a patent like that?
    Can it even be enforced?

    So,m what happens if I register for a patent for 2-clicks, 3-clicks and 4-clicks.
    Then, the next guy who deploys an online bookstore is going to have to use 5 clicks?

    That just doesn't make any sense.

    I hop
  • by ZSpade ( 812879 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:18AM (#15365264) Homepage
    There needs to be some risk for a company in getting a patent. Especially over-simplified ones like this. For instance, if it is later found out that a company received a patent on an obvious technology, business method, etc., then that company needs to pay a fine! It is obvious that they knew what they were doing.

    Likewise, and especially, extortionist who obtain patents on obvious tech solely for the purpose of suing others need to pay fines, even bigger ones. Then they need to pay damages to any of the companies on which they committed this extortion on successfully.

    Let's face it, fines and penalties are the only things that *might* scare large companies like this into thinking twice about getting that obvious patent, regardless of prior art or simplicity.
    • Not a fine, just the legal fees of anyone they've taken to court along with returning any/all licensing fees they've been paid by others to the wronged parties, along with interest pegged to standard lending rates over the time period during which licensing was paid.
    • Like many things, there are actually existing laws to do this -- they're just never enforced. To apply for a patent, you have to sign a statement under penalty of perjury that you are the true inventor and have disclosed all information you know that would be relevant to the examination of the application. Bruce Perens has suggested we start enforcing this more. But there are quite a few difficulties with this [techdirt.com].

      One of the most difficult issues is proving that the submitor knew that what he submitted was obvi
  • by shabushabu ( 961717 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:23AM (#15365290)
    I know this has been discussed several times before, but let me repeat, we need this system to go soon, else countless people will have been harmed.

    I work for a small startup company, we've been in existence 1 year and have only 15 people. Inspite of us working overtime everyday, we spend hours with our patent attorneys, filing patents for every small thing we do.

    Reason: we might find ourselves suddenly sued by someone over infringement

    We need to clean out this whole system, else all people will do is file patents and file lawsuits. Lets hope the Amazon re-examination is a precursor to bigger things.

    • No, you need to see if what you are doing has already been done.
      Fortunatly you can look that up. You think if someone has proof they had an idea first, they wont sue you?
      Not only will abolishing patents NOT prevent you from being sued, there will be no expiration on the ideas people do have.

      While business methods should be abolished, the patent system is needed.

  • by blcamp ( 211756 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:24AM (#15365292) Homepage

    With the endless lawsuits flying around for patent infringement, challenges to existing patents, breach of contact and other "IP theft", it seems to me I'm in the wrong line of work.

    Instead of writing code (the pay and benefits for which I can't complain), maybe I should probably add a law degree, sell my soul and get into the tech litigation biz. I can make tons upon tons of cash - far, far more than I am making now - and don't have to write anything (except the occasional briefs and motions). But I guess I better claim patent on the process of doing this, or I'LL get sued.

  • This Patent review is a result of Forbes [forbes.com] news article about eBay's "Buy it Now" patent and the Supreme Court judgement [slashdot.org].

    Software and Business Method patents need to go and be banned.

    I already made my position clear about these types of bogus patents. If you don't, read my comment over here [slashdot.org].
  • I really think it shouldn't be patentable for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that despite the clear innovative nature of the process, it cannot be restricted like other patentable materials such as chemicals, devices, and processes to produce either chemicals or devices. The second reason is that it could be argued that Amazon's One-Click idea is not really innovative, thus just on that front, it could have been easily thrown out of the patent office.

    All in all, I'm all for innovators to benefit f
  • My opinion is that patent shouldn't exist at all. The base was to protect the small from the big but with all the cost that it's implies (including lawyers...) it's mostly a war for big company. I would drop the entire system and let the company fight for quality, price and services.
  • not for describing how to do something that everyone is already doing.

    In related news, the Vatican announces Earth is not flat.
  • The reason the US gives out so many ridiculous patents is because they want to stay competitive in international technology rankings.

    How sad.
    • The reason the US gives out so many ridiculous patents is because they want to stay competitive in international technology rankings.

      Actually, the reason the US gives out so many ridiculous patents is because they get money for each patent.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson