US Patent Office decimates Amazon's 1-Click Patent

Only five of 26 claims survive

Eight claims fell because of an article that appeared in Newsweek in 1995, The End of Money?, by senior editor Steven Levy. Levy's Newsweek article included this explanation:

You're cruising the net, hopping from link to link with your favorite browser. In a small window in the corner of your screen sits a ledger. '$100.00' it reads. As you land on a favorite website, something strikes your fancy – an annotated bibliography of every article ever written about Sandra Bullock! Only five bucks. You click on a button, and the file is downloaded to your computer. That tiny ledger on your screen now reads '$95.00.'

The USPTO noted: "Levy shows method for ordering an item using a client system (a computer and a website, ...the method comprising: displaying information identifying the item (for example, an article on Sandra Bullock) and displaying an indication of a single action that is to be performed to order the identified item by clicking on a button."

Another of Amazon's patents, Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers, filed in 1995 and naming Bezos as inventor, undermined three other claims of the 1-Click patent.

Five claims in the 1-Click patent were upheld because the prior art did not cover a single-action ordering system that includes a shopping cart ordering component. The patents cited by Calveley related to a system called DigiCash, where a user has access to electronic cash to purchase items electronically.

"None of these DigiCash or electronic cash systems or the prior art contemplates or suggests a single action ordering system or component that includes a shopping cart ordering component."

The patent office concludes that two claims in Amazon's patent could become patentable if they were amended to refer to a shopping cart model.

In a blog posting last night, Calveley wrote: "Amazon has the opportunity to respond to the Patent Office's rejection, but third party requests for reexamination, like the one I filed, result in having the subject patent either modified or completely revoked about two-thirds of the time."

Amazon.com's 1-Click patent became famous when it sued rival bookseller Barnes & Noble.com in 1999. It alleged infringement for allowing B&N customers to make repeat purchases just by clicking on a product. B&N argued that the patent should be declared invalid but a court imposed an injunction, requiring it to change its shopping process. The companies later agreed settlement terms. Amazon.com has since licensed the patent to other retailers, including Apple.

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