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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Beck, 2 Sep 2003 @ 11:00am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ed Halley, 2 Sep 2003 @ 11:21am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zonker, 2 Sep 2003 @ 1:27pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Brandon, 2 Sep 2003 @ 4:05pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jean-Luc Delatre, 2 Sep 2003 @ 9:31pm

      Derisive patents

      Why not applying for a really stupid "business process" patent for something like holding one own's dick while peeing?
      Of course this will have to be carefully choosen and orchestrated so that the case runs for a while before being dismissed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2003 @ 12:32am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Gene, 4 Sep 2003 @ 2:52pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.