Amazon Patents Blurbs; Google Patents Snippets

from the patents-patents-all-the-time dept

theodp writes "On Tuesday, Amazon.com was granted a patent for Personalized Selection and Display of User-Supplied Content to Enhance Browsing of Electronic Catalogs, which the three inventors note covers authoring and posting pieces of content, referred to as ‘blurbs,’ for viewing and rating by other users. The patent claims cover blurbs generated using a blurb authoring pipeline (‘internal blurbs’) as well as those obtained from external sources via RSS feeds (‘external blurbs’)." The details show that the patent is for personalizing these “blurbs,” but it’s difficult to see what’s patentable here. Reading through the claims, there doesn’t seem to be anything that’s new here. All it’s really doing is creating personalized blogs based on a combination of external blog content, catalog content and user reviews. In other words, it’s aggregating a personal feed of content from a variety of sources. There are plenty of solutions out there that do this already — it’s just that they don’t all refer to the content as “blurbs” as Amazon does, and they don’t make it as explicit that it will include catalog content. But, aggregating content in a personalized manner is aggregating content in a personalized manner — and it’s been done by plenty of people well before Amazon bothered to patent the idea.

In the meantime, anyone else find it funny that Amazon has patented “blurbs” at about the same time that Google has patented “snippets”? Now wouldn’t that make for an interesting patent infringement lawsuit? Google’s patent appears to be about taking a document and coming up with an automated summary “snippet” that can be displayed with search results. Again, it seems like a stretch that this should be patentable, but the patent office clearly feels differently. So, let’s see… if both blurbs and snippets are patented, what’s next? Clips? Who wants to patent clips? Yahoo? Microsoft? eBay? Anyone?

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Amazon Patents Blurbs; Google Patents Snippets”

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22 Comments
Not sure says:

Amazon's is crap, not so sure about Google's

I think Mike is right about Amazon’s patent. Aggregating news and blogs, even if it is for catalogs, I think has prior art.

Google’s patent seems a bit more of a gray area. They are automating the summarization of content to present as search results. I don’t know of any AUTOMATED service that summarizes document content for you. I don’t know if that deserves a patent. It seems as if the patent office doesn’t understand it, bang, you get a patent.

Barrenwaste says:

And some people wonder....

….why intelligent people are so violently against the current patent and copyright laws. And I do mean violently. Every time I see one of these I end up ramming my head into the wall for a half hour screaming “What Moron allowed this?”. It’d be more effective to ram thier heads into the wall, but apparently beating the stupid out of someone has already been patented and I don’t want to infringe. Maybe if I keep ramming my own head into the wall I can lobotomise myself and finally be able to accept it. Or am I being to optomistic?

barcodexpert says:

not for nothing, but

amazon certainly doesn’t need me to defend their filing, but it was filed in august of 2003, with references to prior art. i can’t say how ‘obvious’ is was four years ago, and they were prescient enough to take a shot and file for ‘personalization algorithms’, and it was granted. I would like to think that all the heat on USPTO not to grant ‘obvious patents’ would have certainly applied the 19th of December 2007 when it was granted.

Bill Slawski (user link) says:

Infringment Suit Unlikely :)

Hi Mike,

I don’t think that there’s much likelihood of any type of patent infringement action between Google and Amazon over these patents.

Google has had at least 5 patent applications published in the last year (April), that cover the creation of snippets for product reviews, to be show in a product search that comes closer. But even then, there are some significant differences in the processes described.

Google’s product snippets selection processes involve crawling the Web, extracting review information, determining reputation scores of reviewers, and creating snippets from those reviews.

The Amazon process is really less concerned with the creation of snippets from plogs, and more concerned with the personalization aspect of selecting which blurbs to show.

You R Morons says:

Nice armchair quarterbacking

I love how everyone always loves to jump up and down about how obvious patents are until you ask them to actually find some prior art that predates the filing and matches up to the claims. As well, software is far from being the only art that has what people consider, at least in their mind, silly inventions. Additionally, if the invention is just too “silly” to patent then presumably no one else would practice the invention anyway. So I hardly see how that would drive a company to another country (where someone can just steal *their* ideas).

Amazon didn’t patent “blurbs” in itself. If you are going to say it is obvious or not new, provide a citation of prior art from before 2003 that shows all of:

1. An electronic catalog system, comprising:
a computer data repository comprising a browsable electronic catalog of items;
a computer data repository that stores user-specific item selection histories of catalog items selected from the electronic catalog by users;
a blurb submission component that provides functionality for users of the electronic catalog to author and post blurbs for viewing by other users, including blurbs that include links corresponding to particular catalog items in the electronic catalog;
a personalized blurb selection component that selects blurbs to present to specific users based at least in part on the item selection histories of such users; and
a personalized blurb display component that displays the blurbs selected by the personalized blurb selection component to corresponding users in association with the electronic catalog; wherein the blurb submission component, the personalized blurb selection component and the personalized blurb display component comprise code executable by one or more processors.

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