USPTO Panel Says Amazon's One-Click Patent Isn't Obvious

from the two-clicks-away-from-sanity dept

Due to the diligent work of a few determined individuals, the US Patent Office (once again) began to look into Amazon’s infamous “one-click” patent. New prior art was demonstrated, and in an initial re-examination, the examiner rejected some of the claims in the patents, noting that they appeared to be obvious. Of course, patent appeals processes are long and involved, and after Amazon presented their side to a 3-judge panel, that panel has now ruled that the examiner did not do enough to show why the patent claims were obvious, suggesting that what many of us (including those who are skilled practitioners in the space) think of as obvious, won’t be considered obvious. It sort of makes you wonder what it takes for the Patent Office to consider something obvious. Obviously, “obvious” has a different meaning to the US Patent Office than to most of us.

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Companies: amazon, uspto

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Comments on “USPTO Panel Says Amazon's One-Click Patent Isn't Obvious”

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karmasAgent (profile) says:

well, it really isn't obvious...

i’ve been working with the web for over 10 years, and until amazon came along the thought never occured to me to save users the time of re-filling out information i already store in my database keyed to their usernames… DAMN, yet another opportunity wasted…

seriously, USPTO != FTW.
technology patents == innovation stifling
US version of capitalism == those w/ money grease wheels of gov’t, greased wheels make absurd decisions that have anything but consumer interest in mind. think wireless companies and broadband providers…

if this is shocking to you – read your history and you will just have your hopelessness in the greed of man re-inforced.

Overcast says:

Amazon amazes me anymore… I’m really not surprised the the USPTO’s incompetence. Government and competence really aren’t words that can ever be logically used in the same sentence.

Heck, you don’t even need one click – amazon will bill you without you even interacting with the website, if I recall.

Last time I bought any books I just went right to Barnes and Noble. You know half my buying decision sometimes is the company I’m dealing with.

I’m not a fan of new laws, but I really do think there needs to be a ‘patent fraud’ law.

David Sternlight (user link) says:


It would seem that the USPTO’s definition of “obvious” may be that at least one other source offers it at the time of the patent application.

There’s some basis for such a view in the economic theory of patents. If nobody else is doing it, and you do it, that has prima facie produced innovation.

From another angle, if everybody knew it but nobody thought it worth patenting OR USING IT, and you did, that is also innovation in the economic/market sense.

zcat says:

that may be so but..

I’m sure a bunch of major retailers were already doing it in meatspace (Store customer details using just a store-card, charge it all to their credit card which you have on file) and probably a few online as well..

Just because nobody else applied for a patent at the same time doesn’t make it non-obvious. Most other stores probably assumed it was so fucking obvious it would be a waste of time applying for a patent!

boomhauer (profile) says:

im on the hunt..

this being just another reason im trying to decide which country to move to when my beloved USA falls upon itself… theres the UAE with no taxes, but no guanteed freedoms… theres china, with booming economy but a freaky form of communism. etc…

its a choice of the US which constituionally guarantees freedoms but then ignores them frequently, or some other place that gives greater freedoms but with no guarantee they will continue (ie, dont piss them off). bleh.

wow guess i got off topic 😉

There is a test ya know... says:

Just how many here have actually read 35 USC 103 (Obviousness) and know the test for applying it? (Actually, is there still a test?) From the looks of it, I’d guess one at best.

There’s a fine line between obviousness and hindsight.

I’m definitely no expert in patent law but I know that knowing the codes and the tests that are to be applied definitely make a difference in how you view these things. I’d be interested in seeing the art and rationale originally applied but I’m too lazy to look it up. If anyone has, it might be worth sharing your 2 cents here.

Not saying the Amazon patent is or isn’t obvious, just saying.

Joe Smith says:

Just how many here have actually read 35 USC 103 (Obviousness) and know the test for applying it? (Actually, is there still a test?) From the looks of it, I’d guess one at best.

The statute says very little. The courts are the ones who have defined obviousness. For years, the CAFC used the TSM test for obviousness because it made the courts job simpler. Given the lack of a statutory definition of obviousness, it is perfectly legitimate for people to discuss what the test for obviousness should be and to base that discussion on examples. That after all is how the common law arose in the first place – by focusing on examples and discussing what the outcome should and only later going from the examples to the general principles.

David says:

Obvious and Obvious

It’s obvious, TODAY, that the notion of 1-click is obvious. Was it so obvious and apparent to everyone before Amazon (a) did it and (b) filed a patent application? I’m not as sure.

That said, I think the notion of software patents is absurd and should be abolished. However, until they are, we all have to play the game with the cards we’re dealt — and that means patents according to the “rules” (such as they are) of the USPTO.

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