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Blogger Eviscerates Amazon 1-Click Patent

Don’t mess with bloggers.
A New Zealand customer, disgruntled that his order had taken too long to arrive, decided to take on Goliath, Amazon’s 1-click patent. The 1-click patent is probably the most famous, and most controversial Internet-based patent ever issued.

The Problem

Until the State Street case in 1998, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had not allowed any patents on methods of doing business. That all changed after the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that business methods could be patented. This led to a deluge of patent filings. Since the USPTO had no bank of business method patents against which to vette these new patents, the USPTO issued many patents on technology which was old or, at the very least, non-obvious.

Will No One Fight?
People were free of course to research the “prior art” on their own and provide it to the USPTO in attempt to invalidate the patent. However, the companies with the resources and the most to gain from canceling these patents also had the most to lose in a fight. If the fight was unsuccessful, the patent owner would surely come after the losing competitor with the now-vetted patent. Additionally, others would use the same arguments to undermine the loser’s own specious Internet patents.

Enter the Kiwi

Angered over two years ago by a long delay in the receipt of his order, New Zealand actor Peter Calveley took on the behemoth by filing a request for reexamination of the 1-click patent. After two years, on October 9, 2007, the Kiwi got his pound (more like 799 pounds) of flesh. The United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected all of the broadest claims of the 1-click patent, even going beyond the NZer’s narrow request to reject claims 1-5 and 11-26.

Although torquing off a New Zealand blogger does not seem like a good idea a priori, it always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to have my presumptions confirmed.

Brett Trout

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