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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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2007 @ 2:34pm

    From what I understand, it's hard for an Examiner to argue that Amazon shouldn't get this patent just because "it isn't particularly complicated". Either Amazon got this because no other piece of literature disclosed this type of "method" or the "lazy searching" factor comes in.

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

  • identicon
    CoJeff, 1 May 2007 @ 2:41pm

    Are you kidding me?

    So Amazon wrote software that counts pages in a book. Can write a patent on the use of graphics in a video game?

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

  • identicon
    Reed, 1 May 2007 @ 2:44pm

    Just got my new patent!

    I have just patented an idea called "e-indexing". Basically it is software that reads the index page of a book and then tells you what page number to look for based upon a key word!

    I am gonna be rich! lol

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

  • identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 1 May 2007 @ 2:48pm

    Finally!

    This problem has been perplexing me on every level for the last five years! I can't wait until the tool is released for public use!

    /sarcasm

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

  • identicon
    RandomThoughts, 1 May 2007 @ 3:01pm

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

    Most patents are defensive in nature.

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

    • identicon
      Charles Griswold, 1 May 2007 @ 3:27pm

      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.

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

    • identicon
      DCX2, 1 May 2007 @ 4:29pm

      Re:

      Whats the problem with the patent?

      Darn. I wanted to answer that question for you...but then I finished reading your post.

      Most patents are defensive in nature.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2007 @ 3:05pm

    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...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2007 @ 3:13pm

    wait is it april 1st or may 1st

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

  • identicon
    Charles Griswold, 1 May 2007 @ 3:17pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    sam, 1 May 2007 @ 3:26pm

    mikey!!

    i know you're still on your patent rant....

    but given what the supreme court just ruled regarding obviousness.... i think this falls under their ruling...

    i'm really hard-pressed to figure out how this isn't obvious to a reasonable person skilled in the art of reading...


    peace

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

  • identicon
    ehrichweiss, 1 May 2007 @ 3:54pm

    aaah...but..

    Thankfully the Supreme Court just ruled that they'll have to update the test for obviousness and so soon this, and the one-click, patent will go bye-bye.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2007 @ 4:03pm

    Yoda holds patents

    Nevermind this bogus patent. Look at the list of patents referenced. The first belongs to Yoda!

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

  • identicon
    Mike, 1 May 2007 @ 4:10pm

    can you patent math?

    So, by looking at a book with a certain number of pages in it, the use a process to find out that the book actually has
    09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0: 25 pages in it?

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

    • identicon
      Bumbling old fool, 1 May 2007 @ 5:02pm

      Re: can you patent math?

      LOL, I didnt even kno wyou could have 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 pages in a book. Well, ok, maybe if that book was stored on an HD-DVD... then maybe.. jsut maybe.

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

  • identicon
    dude, 1 May 2007 @ 4:36pm

    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

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

  • identicon
    RandomThoughts, 1 May 2007 @ 5:52pm

    _harles, why the hate?

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

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Charles Griswold, 1 May 2007 @ 7:26pm

      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.

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

  • identicon
    Overcast, 1 May 2007 @ 7:10pm

    The real issue in the end is - what's are various governments going to do to 'correct' the problem, and how much worse will it make it in the end.

    Because, as we all know; government is always good at making things better.

    Hmm, is there a patent on sarcasim?

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

    • identicon
      Charles Griswold, 1 May 2007 @ 7:32pm

      Re:

      Hmm, is there a patent on sarcasim?

      Not yet, but thanks to your post, someone will probably "defensively" file a preemptive patent, and then no one will be allowed to use sarcasm without a license. Gee, thanks a lot. [forks over the money to cover the fine for posting the previous sentence without a license]

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

  • identicon
    mkvf, 2 May 2007 @ 8:38am

    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?

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

  • identicon
    mkvf, 2 May 2007 @ 8:50am

    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?

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

  • identicon
    RandomThoughts, 2 May 2007 @ 10:18am

    I am sorry, but after many posts, I don't see any use for the patent. Without a use, what does it matter? How does the patent benefit someone and why would they try to keep others from using it?

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


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