Jeff 'One Click' Bezos Once Again Concerned About Patents

from the speak-out dept

About a dozen years ago, Amazon's Jeff Bezos (taking a fair amount of criticism for his one-click patent) helped fund a project called BountyQuest, which offered up prize money for those who were able to bust bogus patents. To his credit, the first patent they put forth was Bezos' own one-click patent -- except then very little happened, and BountyQuest faded away. While it has occasionally used its own patents (such as suing B&N over that one-click patent), Amazon tends to be on the receiving end of tons of ridiculous patent lawsuits, leading Bezos to speak out about the broken patent system yet again in an interview with the UK publication Metro:
"Patents are supposed to encourage innovation and we’re starting to be in a world where they might start to stifle innovation. Governments may need to look at the patent system and see if those laws need to be modified because I don’t think some of these battles are healthy for society. I love technology, I love invention, I like rapid change, and really it’s the golden age of wireless devices and mobile devices."
I'd argue that the "starting to" understates where we are in this process. There's significant evidence that the problem has been around for a long, long time already. Of course, I'm curious just what kind of legislation Bezos thinks is right. Having his voice added to the debate on patents certainly would be helpful, given how so many in Congress still seem to think that there isn't a real problem here.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    "To his credit, the first patent they put forth was Bezos' own one-click patent -- except then very little happened"

    And that's when all the critics of the "one-click patent" realized and publicly acknowledged that it wasn't quite as obvious as they had thought....right?

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 5:47pm

    When Bezos and Amazon were ahead of the curve, dominating and big, patents were good. As they start to become more and more "one of the companies doing" instead of "the company doing" suddenly patents don't look as good. I suspect Bezos realizes that his company is very likely to get locked out of the next big advance if someone else comes up with it.

    Sad, really.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 6:13pm

    Why not just seek to buy up these dumb patents and give them to an entity that will only sue patent aggressors.

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

  4. identicon
    Michael, Oct 18th, 2012 @ 5:14am


    The problem is that the "patent aggressors" you are referring to are all-too-often non-practicing entities. They don't do anything, so they don't violate any patents.

    So, unless you manage to patent key business processes necessary for patent trolling, there is nothing to sue over.

    Even though the Apple/Samsung (or Samsung/Apple - depending on which sign you read at the courtroom door) case is big news, it is really an indication of a much smaller problem. True, these huge companies are wasting a lot of money on litigation when they could be doing things like...making better products, but they actually make something that benefits people.

    NPE's do nothing but funnel money from successful companies into the hands of lawyers. It is the opposite of the purpose of the patent system. It taxes successful innovation rather than promoting it.

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

  5. icon
    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 9:34am

    Broken patent system

    Seems like for trivia, you can always find a "champion" to step up and lead a movement. For really important stuff like this, everyone simply sits around bitching and moaning.
    At 81, I am not much inclined to be a "champion", but I would contribute what I could to someone who worked at fixing this (even though I am an IP attorney, still working).
    I think someone should start targeting members of Congress who are too happy with the money they get from business to work for the people, such as by dismantling this broken system (thereby putting me out of work, but I am okay with that).

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

  6. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Broken patent system

    We need to find patent lawyers not one foot into retirement to agree with the movement.

    Lots of people are willing to admit to the failures of their profession / career / government when they are on the verge of leaving it.

    Doesn't mean it's not correct and true. Just means that they probably should have spoken up sooner, and joined the good guys.

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

  7. icon
    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Lawyers without one foot in retirement

    Good points, but not entirely fair.

    1. It will be 20 years before I retire (though I have considered founding a company, and doing that instead)
    2. The real problems are relatively recent
    3. Lawyers are ethically bound to represent their clients,
    and if they resort to actually fighting the system, they
    need to be ousted. They are NOT judge, jury, or politician,
    and pretending they are is counterproductive.

    That said, I am free to express my personal opinion, and
    I would contribute to a politician, or even an individual,
    who would DO something - most people would rather whine.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2012 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Lawyers without one foot in retirement

    "It will be 20 years before I retire"

    I sincerely hope you knocked on some wood immediately after typing this.

    "Lawyers are ethically bound to represent their clients..."

    with you so far...

    "..and if they resort to actually fighting the system, they
    need to be ousted"

    Hold up. There are plenty of clients that would benefit from a changes system. Fighting to change the system is not a violation of an attorney's ethical duties. In fact, many attorneys that fought to change the law are held up as models. Thurgood Marshall comes to mind.

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

  9. identicon
    staff, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    more dissembling by Masnick

    Bezos definition of 'bogus patents' = those used to sue us

    The problem is that companies who are using your technology aren't so genteel as to stop using it merely because you politely ask them to do so. Invention is rough and tumble. The fact is, a patent is merely a right to sue someone to not make your invention without permission. Unless you have the will and money to sue them, they will turn a deaf ear. Unless you have a good patent, you will not get the money. It's sad, but it's the reality of business. All this talk about patentees gaming the system with bad patents is then a hoax. Why do these detractors never identify these supposed bad patents? Surely if they exist they can be identified?

    As to the quality of patents; based on court rulings of the last several years, roughly half of all litigated patents are upheld in court. That's pretty balanced and suggests there is no problem with patent quality. Further, seldom do cases ever make it to trial as the parties settle out of court. The facts do not support the contention that there is a patent quality issue. Still, with almost half a million patent applications filed each year a few are bound to be issued that shouldn't. However, rarely are they ever an issue because you can't enforce them without money and you wont get the money unless you have a good patent. Keep in mind it costs the patent holder about as much in a patent suit as it does the accused infringer. Investors are not stupid. If they don't have confidence in your patent, they will not invest. It's that simple. Bad patents do not get funded.

    When corporate America agrees to not use our inventions without consent, American inventors and small entities will agree to stop suing them.

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

  10. identicon
    Dennis The Menace, Dec 8th, 2012 @ 7:08pm

    About Patents

    Lawyers Lawyers Lawyers consultants consultants consultants thats who makes all of the money off of patents. Ok all of you out their that think all of these so called copyright protections and tradmarks protections nad patetnts protections are such a good idea. Think about all of the trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars that consumers have shelled out over the decades to holders of these so called trademarks copyrights and patents.

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

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