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US Patent Office decimates Amazon's 1-Click Patent

Only five of 26 claims survive

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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.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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