10 December 2009

Why Does Amazon Want to Be Evil?

I like Amazon's services. Indeed, judging by the amount I spend with the company, I'm probably a suitable case for treatment for Amazon addiction (whatever you do, don't sign up for Amazon Prime, which makes getting stuff *far* too easy).

And yet despite the fact that it offers an incredible service, Amazon seems hell-bent on proving that it is not a cuddly new-style company, but just as rapacious and obsessed with "owning" commonplace ideas as all the bad old ones.

Specifically, it is *still* trying to get a European patent on things that are both obvious and manifestly just business methods, neither of which can be patented in Europe:

The Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) has recently heard an appeal against revocation of one of Amazon's "one-click" patents following opposition proceedings. The Board of Appeal found that the decision to revoke the patent should be set aside and that the patent should be returned to the opposition division for further consideration of an alternative set of claims.

Here's that brilliant "invention" that Amazon is so keen to claim as its very own:

The particular patent in issue is concerned with allowing a first individual to send a gift to a second individual when the first individual knows only the second individual's email address but not their postal address.

Wow, you can tell that Jeff Bezos and his crew are geniuses of Newtonian proportions from the fact that they were able to conceive such a stunningly original idea as that.

Undettered by its rejection, Amazon is now trying an even more pathetic track:

The Appeal Board decided that revocation of the patent as granted was correct, but that more limited claims relating to details of technical implementation of the invention should be considered further.

That is, having failed to patent the idea itself, it is now trying to claim that a "computer implementation" of the idea is patentable - as if implementing an obvious, trivial idea in a computer stops it from being obvious and trivial.

*Shame* on you, Amazon.

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Anonymous said...

So it's an old argument, but it's still fair to say that as long as a system that grants stupid patents exists, it's understandable that they should want to pursue this in order to defend themselves against someone else doing it.

Personally I'm in the "all software patents are ridiculous" camp.

More interestingly, regarding this specific patent, how about this: https://sendsocial.com/

Glyn Moody said...

@Ciaran: yes, that's an interesting site.

Andrew said...

On the other hand if they manage to come up with a way to transmit a gift from one individual to another individual based only the second individual's email address *without* using a computer, then maybe they do deserve a patent...

Glyn Moody said...

@Andrew: yes, even *I* might be willing to grant a patent on teleporting...