Amazon Patents Counting Book Pages To Figure Out Unnumbered Page Numbers

from the doing-the-math dept

theodop writes “The USPTO has issued Amazon a brand spanking new patent for Determining Page Numbers of Page Images, a process which the e-tailer explains involves ‘extracting all numbers that are exactly one different than a number found on an adjacent page’.” Basically, they’ve figured out a way to look at pages in a book and see if some of the pages don’t have numbers, and then use basic addition and subtraction to figure out what the actual number of those pages are. This isn’t particularly complicated. Why should one company get a patent for it?


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Comments on “Amazon Patents Counting Book Pages To Figure Out Unnumbered Page Numbers”

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23 Comments
Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Whats the problem with the patent?

The problem is that they patented something that people have been doing for a long time. Amazon patented “counting” and “addition”. You don’t see a problem with that?

I don’t see a use for the patent so how can it be a problem?

You don’t see a use for counting? Or addition? Good for you.

Most patents are defensive in nature.

Well, great. Maybe I’ll defensively patent a novel combination of cylinders and inclined planes, and defensively sue all screw and bolt manufacturers.

Anonymous Coward says:

I did this to my text books...

A lot of the books I use to have to have for school didn’t have all the pages numbered, or had sections that had gaps. I used sticky tabs to number the pages and break them into logical groups for faster reference (for books I referenced a lot). I should have gone out and got 5 or 6 patents for that process right there.

STOP HANDING OUT PATENTS LIKE THEY ARE PAMPHLETS!

I can see it now, the world will become much like a giant magic the gathering game. People will carry a small bundle of patents with them everywhere they go for personal protection. When someone sues you for walking on their patented “floor” you can whip out your “air” patent and wait for them to suffocate…

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

So much for that.

Basically, they’ve figured out a way to look at pages in a book and see if some of the pages don’t have numbers, and then use basic addition and subtraction to figure out what the actual number of those pages are.

Well, crap. I’ve been doing that since I was in grade school, but since it’s been patented I’ll have to stop or Amazon will sue me.

Yeah, I realize I’m being absurd, but this patent is absurd. Since when have basic thought processes involving adding or subtracting 1 from a number been patentable.

dude says:

I don’t think this is quite as simple as you’re making it out to be. It seems to me that the patent covers using OCR on a scanned page. Then it extracts ALL of the numbers on the page (which is usually just the page number, but not necessarily; consider a math book) and tries to determine which are the page numbers. It takes into account that some pages might not have numbers on them, but the patent isn’t JUST that.

I’m not necessarily saying it’s not obvious, but it’s not as obvious as you’re making it out to be

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: Re:

_harles, why the hate?

Not hate. More like blistering sarcasm toward what I perceive to be really stupid ideas.

I don’t see much use to the patent so how could they keep someone else from using it?

I’m not sure what you mean here. If a patent has no real use (e.g. a self-tipping hat) then there’s no problem. If a patent has obvious use in every walk of life (e.g. basic math) then there is a huge problem.

And your example is my point, most patents are defensive in nature, more to keep others from keeping you from using something rather than to keep others from using it.

No, my example does not support your point. Anyone who tries to patent screws (or basic math) should be put in stocks and the patent examiner who allows it should be fired.

mkvf says:

I think ‘dude’ is right (and Mike wrong) in his analysis of what the patent does.

‘extracting all numbers that are exactly one different than a number found on an adjacent page’

That would seem to be a tall for finding page numbers in scanned text also includes other numbers. That seems even more obvious than the ‘innovation’ Mike suggests. If someone asked you to find the page numbers from among a selection of numbers grouped by page, wouldn’t lookig for the ones that are in series be the obvious approach to take?

mkvf says:

edit...

OK, I didn’t RTFA.

The sequences most likely to contain candidates that represent the actual page numbers are determined by merging the most reliable sequences together to bridge gaps between the sequences, and identifying those gaps where the page numbers have been intentionally omitted. Page images are labeled with numbers that are determined to be most likely to represent the actual page number.

So, while spotting series and guessing they are page numbers is part of it, spotting gaps between series is another part. Both of those ideas still seem obvious.

What doesn’t is “merging the most reliable sequences together to bridge gaps”. How, from a big pile of unnumbered pages, and with no other information, do you spot which ones are meant to go where?

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