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08.22.17

Amazon’s 1-Click Patent Continues to Tarnish the Image of the USPTO and of Patents in General

Posted in America, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lack of patent quality can doom the whole system (or public support for it)

Angry sunflowerSummary: Public ridicule and scorn over the shallowness of patents granted in the US is inevitable (Amazon has a patent even on white background in photographs), demonstrating that patent maximalism does nobody a favour, only a great disservice to both patenters and the public at large

THE USPTO cannot escape liability for its utterly embarrassing patent grant two decades ago. Since then, many other equally ridiculous patents have been granted. Is the above image a patent infringement depending on how the white background was accomplished?

“Patent Expires In 3 Week’s Time,” says this new headline, “Why Was It Ever Granted?”

We wrote about it during the weekend after we had covered similarly appalling software patents from Amazon; we wrote many articles about this patent over the years and we mentioned other such patents routinely.

When will the US patent office realise that continuing such grants is harmful to the reputation of the Office?

“Note that Bezos, now the world’s richest man, at no point called for the end of software patents. How convenient for him to get monopolies on ideas as simple as photographing products in front of a white background (they actually have a patent on that, too).”Who is happy about such grants? Well, Steven Lundberg, a software patents lobbyist of sorts (we mentioned him many times before), published in a couple of sites [1, 2] this new piece that says the following: “For those of you that were not around when it issued, or the several years following, there was quite a lot of complaining about how unfair it was for Amazon to get this patent, and how it represented how bad patents are for software. Jeff Bezos himself even, for a time, was promoting a shorter term for software patents, in response in part to the criticism he received for the 1-click patent. Of course, now all the doomsday predictions look silly, with the e-commerce revolution having quite handily survived Amazon’s 1-click patent. Twenty years go by awful fast, we find out, as it seems like yesterday that the 1-click patent was issued.”

In the interim, however, many companies were at risk of being sued. Had this patent never been granted, innovation would be a lot faster.

Note that Bezos, now the world’s richest man, at no point called for the end of software patents. How convenient for him to get monopolies on ideas as simple as photographing products in front of a white background (they actually have a patent on that, too).

Software patents are not the only issue or the sole domain that’s troublesome. In the EPO, for example, patents are now being granted on life itself, so the above photograph may constitute more than a single patent infringement. Public protests against the EPO more often than not confront the Office over patents like these. Consent is being eroded when scope is being expanded.

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