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Amazon 'misled Congress' over 1-Click patent

Kept Mum about vital rejection

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When Amazon.com's chief lobbyist testified before Congress in June last year, he made a bold claim.

Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy, was presenting evidence to the House subcommittee that looks at internet law, and the subject was something Amazon should know something about: "patent trolls".

Pre-empting questions about Amazon's own notorious patent strategy - thanks to its "1-Click" patents, the company wields an axe over every electronic retailer in the world - Misener declared that, "extensive, well-publicised attempts to invalidate these patents, even with monetary bounties available, have failed".

"This has been one of the best known patents around for the past six years and still no prior art has surfaced," insisted Misener.

But that's being somewhat economical with the truth.

While the patents haven't (yet) been formally invalidated, several have fallen far short of being granted patent status. And one in particular, that Amazon regards as central to its strategy, was recently rejected.

This is application 09/318,447, first filed in 1999. In October 2005, eight months before Misener stood by his patents before Congress, the patent office threw out the application. The claim, the examiner said, was "old and well-known".

Amazon.com has filed it once again as a continuation application.

"Oral hearings aren't that unusual where Amazon is concerned," Peter Calveley, anti-patent activist tells us. "They generally use every trick in the book to get their patents to be accepted."

Calveley is fighting a one-man battle against the 1-Click patent with money raised from PayPal donations. You can read how, here.

Amazon-watcher TheoDP notes that judiciary committee members turned a deaf ear to Misener's tall tale. Perhaps, he suggests, because their ears were stuffed with political contributions. Both Rick Boucher (Dem, VA) and Howard Berman (Dem,CA) have benefitted from a PAC (Political Action Committee) rich with Amazon.com contributions.

As we've written before, the monetary bounties referred to were briefly on offer from publishing magnate Tim 2.0'Reilly - before 2.0'Reilly saw the error of his ways and decided he needed Amazon 1-Click "inventor" Jeff Bezos to grace his fluffy web conferences.

(Thanks to Theo for raising the flag) ®

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