Can't Edit Without A License From Amazon

from the where's-the-innovation? dept

theodp writes “A day after criticism prompted the European Parliament to postpone voting on a controversial software-patents directive, the USPTO granted another single-action ordering patent to Amazon that also covers the use of buttons to expand/collapse sections of a form, as well as the use of an EDIT button to (you guessed it!) present data to the user for editing.” Theodp likes to submit every single patent that Amazon is granted, and has a clear anti-Amazon bias. However, in this case, the patent does seem particularly questionable.

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Comments on “Can't Edit Without A License From Amazon”

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Beck says:

Business Process Patents

Why is this just now becoming an issue? Were business process patents and software patents not allowed before? What would happen if the first person to computerize a manual task was granted a patent? What if IBM had patented computerized accounts receivable, accounts payable or inventory tracking? What if someone had patented the process of logging into a web site? What if someone patented an Internet system whereby a moderator posts news stories and readers post comments about those stories?
Just because you computerize a manual process you should not receive a patent. At most you should receive a copyright so that your competitors have to write the code from scratch instead of copying yours.

Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

Furthermore, just because someone applies for a patent on something obvious, and just because they are granted the patent, doesn’t mean doom for everyone.

Amazon caught a lot of PR flak when they wielded their one-click patent as an offensive weapon. If they did that with every patent, or if their CEO never noticed the negative reaction to their maneuver, then I’d have a big problem with it.

However, many companies file for patents on as many things as possible, as a defense. Microsoft, for all the acrimony against them, has been pretty good about their patent holdings. IBM is wielding patents as a defensive countersuit to the SCO idiocy.

If the USPTO is going to grant stupid patents on obvious things, and if the courts are going to assume validity on stupid patents, then the companies have to protect themselves somehow.

Zonker (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

If the USPTO is going to grant stupid patents on obvious things, and if the courts are going to assume validity on stupid patents, then the companies have to protect themselves somehow.

How about by channeling some of that lobbyist money into reforming the patent system so that software and business processes aren’t patentable.

IBM can stave off Microsoft with a patent arsenal. Amazon can stave off eBay, or whatever — but all of these companies are vulnerable to suits from “companies” that are nothing more than a front for patent suits. Microsoft, Amazon and eBay have each been bitten recently by patents that are absurd — for millions of dollars each.

It’s time to reform the system, not just shrug it off like it’s not a big deal.

Brandon says:

Re: Defensive Patents

Bezos has often said that Amazon intends to acquire a large patent portfolio for defensive purposes. However, I still cannot acquiesce to a patent being granted for something that clearly does not meet the standard of patentability (i.e. non-obvious extension to prior art).
Bezos’s intentions could be all well and good, but his patents could easily outlast him as CEO. Is Amazon’s next CEO going to be so benevolent? What if Amazon gets in deep trouble financially? The primary duty of a CEO is to serve the shareholders. Right now, enforcing the patents arguably does not serve the shareholders, because of the ill-will that would be a product of enforcement. However, if a day came when Amazon had no other way of making money, then the CEO has no choice but to enforce the patents, or potentially worse, assign them to someone else in a bankruptcy sale.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: using patents defensively

.. is a laughable statement from someone who obviously was born yesterday.

At the very least, the person making such a statement wasn’t around in the last decade, before a certain company’s vandalism and advertising-rewritten-as-linux-development somehow caused the dope smoking linux-heads to forget what an 800-lb gorilla smells like.

The destruction, when the dragon wakes up again, will be bittersweet.

Gene (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Agreed. But note also that patent licensing is increasingly viewed as a strategic and highly profitable business by the major technology companies. IBM’s patent licensing revenue is estimated at $1B per year, and the margins are really attractive compared to say, selling PCs.

So the financial incentives to amass and wield a large patent portfolio are great, and I expect we’ll see more companies becoming more aggressive in pursuing license revenue to support their weaker, increasingly commoditized business models.

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