Amazon Patents Predicting Computing Resource Usage

from the prior-art-anyone? dept

Slashdot points us to the news that just last week, Jeff Bezos and Amazon were granted a patent (7,743,001) on "Dynamic Pricing of Web Services Utilization." Much of the Slashdot writeup compares this to old computer timesharing, but if you look at the patent, that's not really what it's about. Instead, it's about effectively predicting computing utilization, and then doing dynamic pricing based on those predictions. Obviously, this is an attempt by Amazon to do more dynamic pricing for its web services offerings.

As you go through the claims, however, it's difficult to see how any of them pass the non-obvious test. If you know anything about predicting usage and/or dynamic pricing, all of this seems to simply repeat all of that. Oh, and if you're looking for some prior art, how about this paper from the 1968 Communications of the ACM by Ivan Sutherland -- no slouch on these sorts of computing issues. Actually, if you compare that paper from over 40 years ago to the patent issued last week, which one actually teaches people how to do something useful? And which is a jumble of words that doesn't teach anything? Every time we hear patent attorneys claim that patents are important because they help teach people how to do stuff, I think of patents like this one which clearly do no such thing.

Either way, later today many people expect the Supreme Court to finally rule on Bilski (today is the last day of the term, and the Supreme Court is expected to finally issue rulings on all of its remaining cases -- though, technically, it doesn't need to). The Supreme Court has taken its sweet time on deciding Bilski and I've heard compelling arguments for how this is good or bad no matter where you stand on the issue. My guess (based on little more than what was said during the oral arguments) is that the Supreme Court will try to craft a narrow ruling that wipes out some really weak business method patents, but leaves software patents mostly legit. Where this Amazon patent falls since it's basically a business method patent with software hooks? That may depend on where the Justices draw the line. We shall see soon enough...
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

Filed Under: business methods, computing usage, jeff bezos, patents, predictions, software
Companies: amazon

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), 28 Jun 2010 @ 4:19am


    Another case of the USPTO asleep at the switch, we should not have to depend on the courts to fix it, but what else is new.

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

  • identicon
    abc gum, 28 Jun 2010 @ 4:21am

    I can't wait to hear angry dude claim that

    "the business model is the software and the software is the business model, you can't tell the difference between the two."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2010 @ 4:59am

    I just laugh when people create imaginary property and try to defend it LoL

    Ask to the DIY community what they think about those people.

    hint: They don't like Bush one bit.

    I think those countries betting all they have on those ridiculous ideas will sink to a dark age.

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

  • identicon
    Major Patent, 28 Jun 2010 @ 6:45am


    Doesn't the USSC have better things to do! Listen, I've invented some of the most important technologies of our time, and I just wanted to share with you, what you would not have if not for patents:

    - multi-tasking user interfaces in a web browser or network interface.
    - toolbars in a web browser or network interface,
    - start buttons in a web browser or network interface,
    - audio/video players in a web browser or network interface,
    - volume controls in a web browser or network interface,
    - Information and controls displayed together in a web browser or network interface,
    - data sorting in a web browser or network interface,

    These took me quite some time to think up, and I would think that the world would owe me a debt of gratitude! Instead, all I get are the rantings of a whinnying stable of free loaders! Imagine the web without these inventions! Who would have done all that research if not for the protection of patents? NO ONE THATS WHO!!! I'm confident that the Supreme court will stand up to the IP thieves/web surfers and commit justice. You people sicken me!


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

    • icon
      TtfnJohn (profile), 28 Jun 2010 @ 10:01am

      Re: USSC

      Morning again, TAM,

      You gonna hate this, I know, but here it goes. If you check back in the history of computing you'll find out that your complete list, except for the web, existed in a research project called Xerox Park. Indeed the whole issue of icons for all the "important" technologies of our time was decided on there and much earlier. Just who do you think "stole" it all when the first Mac came out???

      Multi-tasking has been with us since the 1940s, btw, when the computers used in WW 2 were using vacuum tubes and such.

      The most important technologies of our times have not come encumbered by patents. The web itself exists in the public domain. The internet itself and the technology behind it is public, as are the protocols on which it runs. The notion of signalling transmissions using light either voice or data is ancient and using some form of "wire" to accomplish that goes back to Alexander Graham Bell, at least.

      The reality is that people, universities and companies will do research whether or not patents exist and always have.

      If, by some miracle/disaster patents ceased to exist at midnight tonight they still would, after all the crying and whining was over, because humans are simply curious, that companies do want to get a leg up on their competition even if that leg up doesn't last long and universities would continue because that's what they exist for.

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

  • icon
    WammerJammer (profile), 28 Jun 2010 @ 7:16am

    Great times

    Man this is a great time to be rich!!! All you need is the money and the lawyers (thus the money) and you can patent anything. This is a standard business practice "Dynamic Pricing of Resources" Then you charge what your local market can bear. How does that qualify for a patent? Only if you have the cash. If you have the cash you can get way richer right now. Homes are at all time lows for pricing. Stocks are in the toilet thus cheap. I loved the 44 minute crash of the market recently. We got Nestle for $0.78 but they cancelled the trade. What a wonderful time to be rich!

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

  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 28 Jun 2010 @ 7:17am

    Possible Grammar Alert?

    "And which is a jumble of words that don't teach anything?"

    Could be wrong about this one, but isn't "jumble" the subject? If so, should the word "don't" be "doesn't", as jumble is a singular?

    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.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)


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.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

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

Email This

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