Amazon's Latest Silly Patent: The String At The End Of A URL

from the can-we-patent-being-asleep-at-the-switch? dept

Just as it looks like Amazon may be losing its infamous "one-click" patent (though, there's still an appeals process to wait through), the company may have just received yet another ridiculous patent. As pointed out by Slashdot, Amazon has been granted a patent on adding a search string at the end of a URL, without having to include additional characters like "&q=search+query." This technique, of course, was first seen at Amazon's search subsidiary A9 when it launched. At the time, we thought it was neat, but it hardly seems deserving of a patent. This is clearly not what the patent system was designed to protect. It's for major breakthroughs, not how you happen to set things up. This would be like allowing a restaurant to patent the idea of hanging a menu in the window. It's a nice idea, but what's wrong with letting others do it as well without having to pay up first?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 5:06pm

    Changing your own rules again?

    At first you said patents should only be giving for truly novel ideas....

    And you just said "At the time, we thought it was neat" which would support it was "novel".

    But, now you seem to have changed your mind in that it's not enough to be just a novel idea - it has to be a "major breakthrough".

    Mike, are you bipolar by any chance?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Prior Art Standardized, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 5:22pm

    ISINDEX

    http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/interact/forms.html#h-17.8

    The only way this differs in that ISINDEX gets submitted with the input field after a question mark (which acutally makes sense, you're "asking" for documents that match). I wonder how many old scripts that used ISINDEX actually cared about the question mark and just parsed REQUEST_URI or one of the other variables passed via CGI.

     

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  3.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Changing your own rules again?

    At first you said patents should only be giving for truly novel ideas.... And you just said "At the time, we thought it was neat" which would support it was "novel". But, now you seem to have changed your mind in that it's not enough to be just a novel idea - it has to be a "major breakthrough".

    "Neat" is hardly novel. And by "truly novel" I meant a breakthrough idea. I don't see how that's inconsistent.

    Tell me this: do you really think that one company should have the right to tell other companies how they present search URLs?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Mike Upton, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 5:53pm

    Bipolar Mike

    I'll stick up for my namesake here. I don't think he changed his mind, but it was a different way of wording it. yea its a bit more exaggerated to say major breakthrough, but i think thats really a minor issue. I like Mike. I've read his other stuff and I think his ideas are pretty solid.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 6:08pm

    I guess they'll have to sue HTML 1.0 for using the isindex element.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 6:10pm

    Oh... looks like comment #2 beat me to it, but yeah, it's not an HTML 4 thing. It's a relic from the very beginning of the web.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Gil, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 6:11pm

    In the patent world we live in, it would be in their best interest to patent the idea, to be able to use it freely. Otherwise, some patent troll would come along and sue them for the rights to use thier own idea....

     

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  8.  
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    Jack, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    apache mod_rewrite has been doing this for a long time. look at any store/blog/site with seo friendly urls...

     

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  9.  
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    Dr. Lecter, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 6:33pm

    Re:

    Donate your brain to feed the hungry

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    the-information-is-in-the-title, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 6:33pm

    Next They'll Patent 'Prior Art'

    This is very interesting, good find. A9 is a great search engine by the way, the columnar results are easily scanned. However. This is sort of like a card catalog. An overwhelmingly good example of prior art is Wikipedia. eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_Law Keep it up!

     

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  11.  
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    Max Powers at http://ConsumerFight.com, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 12:36am

    Exactly on the money

    This type of crap pisses me off. There must be a conspiracy going on hatched by the lawyers that can't seem to get any regular business anymore.

    Maybe the lawyers are extorting the companies they work for by bringing up every little thing that might damage the company so they can assure themselves of always having a job.

    Remember, there are too many lawyers in the U.S. so they have to be creative to stay employed.

     

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  12.  
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    ehrichweiss, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    prior art..

    Let's start a list:

    Ruby on Rails(uses strings like '/search/blog/name')
    mod_rewrite

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    the-information-is-in-the-title, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 7:49am

    Improprietary Art

    Follow the link to the patent, and you will find a list of referenced previous patents. Some of these read to me as remarkably obvious.

    It turns out the patent was approved in the past week, though it was filed in 2004. Any list of prior art should look to before then.

    I would like to become part of any organization to create a thousand points of scorn for many of these technology patents. If anyone knows of such a group or website, I would like to hear about--foolish patent hitlist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Textureglitch, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Wait.. Did they just grant Amazon a patent on using HTML? How is it even possible to patent the usage of an established open standard? Wouldn't that remove functionality from a standard that they don't own?

    And unless Wikipedia and all its variants were created after 2004, I THINK THERE MIGHT BE PRIOR ART!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Ted Brown, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Prior Art?

    A long time ago (way before 2004), I set up a system where every HTTP request was analyzed by the 404 error script. This allowed use of all characters, and URLs like "http://tspace.cx/poetry,Bad Poetry" would actually resolve, because the 404 page would interpret the string, look for patterns, and display the appropriate page.

    This sounds suspiciously like the system described here, only without the emphasis on search...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Prior Art Search, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 2:13am

    Re: prior art..

    Patent Consultancy offer services such as prior art search, patent ability search, outsourcing patent drafting, patent drafting, patent analytics, patent search service and other patent services are provided by communicating to TT Consultants in India.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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