Amazon Pays IBM To Settle Pointless Patent Dispute

from the who-benefits? dept

Last year, we were a bit surprised to see IBM sue Amazon over some very broad and questionable patents. After all, IBM has been going on and on about the importance of a better patent system and doing away with such bogus patent suits. As is expected nowadays in patent lawsuits, Amazon (who also claims it wants a better patent system) fired back with a patent lawsuit of its own. Basically, both sides had patents on fairly broad concepts that never should have received patent protection in the first place. However, as is often the case, it’s cheaper to just settle than go through the legal process. So, it should come as no surprise that Amazon is paying IBM to settle the case, with a cross-licensing agreement, to guarantee that IBM won’t sue Amazon over any other random web services patents it comes up with in the future. Again, this doesn’t seem to really benefit innovation in anyway. Amazon created a service doing some obvious things for providing a service to customers, and yet IBM gets to pretend that no one else can do things like “presenting applications in an interactive service” without first paying them. Even worse, by agreeing to license these patents, Amazon has given them even more “legitimacy” and will allow IBM to put pressure on anyone else presenting applications in an interactive service, storing data on a network, presenting advertising in an interactive service, or ordering items in an interactive catalog. I’m sure no one would ever would have come up with such things if it weren’t for the patent system.

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Comments on “Amazon Pays IBM To Settle Pointless Patent Dispute”

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Steve Jones says:

Once again, you're portraying the patent's title a

You wrote:

“[B]y agreeing to license these patents, Amazon… will allow IBM to put pressure on anyone else ‘presenting applications in an interactive service’, ‘storing data on a network’, ‘presenting advertising in an interactive service’, or ‘ordering items in an interactive catalog’.”

A quick look at the patents and claims suggests that the patent claims are a lot more specific than suggested by the phrases you grabbed from the patent titles. And it’s not at all clear that the specific methods covered in these patents were obvious at the time the patenst were filed. (That first one covers a relatively sophisticated multiple-application command-and-control scheme, and was filed in 1993.)

That’s not to say all the claims in these patents are necessarily non-obvious and don’t deserve review. But you need to keep in mind that someone could be the first to invent a working cold-fusion reactor and choose to give their patent application a generic title such as “system and method for generating energy.” Then you would probably write a blurb complaining about someone having the chutzpah to try to patent all means of generating energy! 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

stupid patent comments....

to Steve Jones: If you actually read the patent on say, storing data over a network it SEEMS to translate out into a terminal/server system, or in other words a Mainframe.

Kinda obvious dontchya think?

And why is it that every time a patent article comes up these shills keep coming out with dingbat comments like #2?

Shohat says:

The digerati idiots

These patents seem obvious to you now , just like the combustion engine to any engineer or suspension bridges to certain architects. The telephone/telegraph are mighty obvious too. Just talk to any electrical engineer.
But thing is, they weren’t obvious when they were invented.

If 15 years ago someone would suggest to you a shop that you could access using your 386-SX via a dial-up 14.400 connection that uses encryption to protect your sensitive data, stores such data for future reference in order to only pass authentication data on next connection, and allows you to purchase items by using a mouse (!), you would think it’s mighty innovative. Non-obvious so to speak.

It is innovation, and kids like this blogger that never even seen the time before it became obvious and keep slamming pioneers like IBM and Amazon, contributing to the ignorance of the anti-patent-copyright-proprietary-software sheep.

Maxillarypun says:

The Patents in Question

I just read the “presenting applications in an interactive service” patent which was filed Nov 26, 1993. It seems that all of items within the patent already existed in windowing systems and in the internet. I mean, Microsoft Windows 3.1 (tm?) did all that. HTML does what the patent says, and they existed prior to the filing. It seems to me from reading the patent that IBM could sue EVERYBODY who uses a computer or writes an application.

What is very obvious to me, is that the pro-patent-copyright-proprietary-software-sheep [Oops, is that a copyrighted phrase? My bad! (C) does that make you feel better?] only want to cash in on out-moded business models as long as possible to the detriment of the industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Patents in Question

Actually even though “presenting applications in an interactive service” was filed in 1993, it has a priority of 1988 since it was a divisional application. Further, at the time of invention, Windows 3.1 didn’t exist. Even further, it describes a client-server environment (before Corba etc.) with the use of pulled interpretative objects, rather than Remote Procedure Call type of distributed object processing which was available at the time….Oh, it wasn’t initially targeted to 14400 baud connections, it was targeted to 1200 baud which was the state of the art at the time. 14400 didn’t happen until the early 1990’s. It certainly doesn’t describe a mainframe although mainframes did potentially act as servers. Oh, and it pre-dates the web by several years.

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