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09.13.17

Amazon’s Infamous Patent is Dead and the World’s Richest Man Failed to Fulfill His Promise on Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 3:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big Brother, big threat to freedom

Kindle Incident

Summary: Amazon continues piling up a lot of software patents even though its founder once pretended (only after enormous public backlash) that he would pursue far shorter terms for software patents

THE USPTO continues to cushion a gold rush for software patents. Last night, according to this new press release, we found out that another software patent had been granted by the USPTO; even if it’s totally worthless in a court of law, if asserted against a small entity, a settlement would be cheaper than a lengthy court battle. The wealthier the patent holder, the more dangerous it is not to settle, which is why two days before expiry of Amazon's “1-click” patent we said that those big corporations are a bigger threat than trolls and the underlying problem is patents on software.

“The wealthier the patent holder, the more dangerous it is not to settle, which is why two days before expiry of Amazon’s “1-click” patent we said that those big corporations are a bigger threat than trolls and the underlying problem is patents on software.”Well, Amazon’s most notorious patent is finally dead, but not due to challenge, only expiry (due to age). The Amazon-friendly media in Seattle (lots of Amazon puff pieces from that site) said this yesterday:

Today, Amazon’s patent for “1-Click” ordering expires, ending its exclusive hold on one of the most contentious patents of the internet age. Amazon won the patent back in 1997 when the nascent company was still just an online book retailer. It allows returning shoppers, who have already entered billing and shipping info, to purchase items with just one click of a button.

[...]

Other tech companies have followed Apple’s lead. But Amazon’s one-click patent has taken so much heat over the years because the company’s victory was won by expedient paperwork, not groundbreaking technology. The tools for one-click ordering already existed but Amazon had the good fortune, business sense (or likely a little of both) to patent it first.

“I’ve received several hundred e-mail messages on the subject of our 1-Click ordering patent,” wrote Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in an open letter back in 2000, which Quartz resurfaced last month. “Ninety-nine percent of them were polite and helpful. To the other one percent — thanks for the passion and color!”

In that letter, Bezos said Amazon would not turn the patent over to the public domain but implored the federal government to reduce the lifespan of business method and software patents from 17 years to three to five.

Whether he did that or not, it never happened. In the meantime, as we have been showing over the years, Amazon continues to amass many more software patents, including truly ludicrous ones (to last for two decades, probably unchallenged because of Amazon’s deep pockets). It means that Bezos, now the world’s richest man, just did some lip service.

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