One Reason Why The USPTO Granted Ridiculously Stupid Internet Patents: Patent Examiners Were Banned From Using The Internet

from the wtf dept

We already reported on the surprising but good news ruling out of East Texas, that Eolas' crazy patents were judged invalid by the jury. However, Alex Howard's writeup about the ruling includes a crazy tidbit that came out during the short trial that deserves separate attention:
One interesting detail that emerged in the case was that the U.S. Patent Office didn't have access to the Internet in 1994 and was apparently forbidden from going on the Internet in 1997, which would make research into prior art in cyberspace somewhat of a challenge.
I'm not sure I'd use "interesting" as the adjective there. More like insane. I mean, it's pretty well-known that many patent examiners focused solely on other patents or journal articles as the key sources of prior art, rather than what was actually happening in the field, but being forbidden from going online is just crazy. Luckily for the internet, this was still a time period when most tech companies believed that software wasn't patentable -- something that changed the following year when the ridiculous State Street ruling opened the floodgates. While certainly some really bad patents (like Eolas') made it through, just think how much worse things would have been if there were as many internet/software patent filings from 1990 to 1998 as there were after 98.

Filed Under: internet, patents, uspto
Companies: eolas, google, yahoo


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    vancedecker (profile), 10 Feb 2012 @ 4:40pm

    1999 1-Click Checkout Patent Granted To Amazon

    In 2006 it was re-examined on the basis that there was prior work. THIS IS STILL INSANE AND IDIOTIC!!!

    ONE CLICK CHECKOUT IS AN OBVIOUS PROCESS. ONLY A HALF RETARDED PATENT OFFICE EMPLOYEE WHO HAS NEVER USED THE INTERNETS WOULD EVEN CONSIDER GRANTING SUCH A BALLSY CLAIM TO AN OBVIOUS ADVANCE.


    from wikipedia:
    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued US 5960411 for this technique to Amazon.com in September 1999.

    On May 12, 2006, the USPTO ordered a reexamination[1] of the "One-Click" patent, based on a request filed by Peter Calveley.[2] Calveley cited as prior art an earlier e-commerce patent and the Digicash electronic cash system.

    On October 9, 2007, the USPTO issued an office action in the reexamination which confirmed the patentability of claims 6 to 10 of the patent.[3] The patent examiner, however, rejected claims 1 to 5 and 11 to 26. In November 2007, Amazon responded by amending the broadest claims (1 and 11) to restrict them to a shopping cart model of commerce. They have also submitted several hundred references for the examiner to consider.[4] In March 2010, the revised patent was confirmed.[5][6][7]

    In Europe, a patent application on the 1-Click ordering was filed with the European Patent Office, but was never granted.[8]

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)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

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