Feeds

Amazon patents 'customer review incentives'

Bezos unreformed

The essential guide to IT transformation

The self-described patent reform advocates at Amazon.com don't seem to have broken their habit of putting legal hooks on just about anything they dream up.

Last Tuesday, Amazon was awarded a patent for "creating an incentive to author useful item reviews."

The patent describes a method of "rewarding the authors of reviews found to be useful by their readers, such as by prominently displaying their names and ranks as authors of useful reviews prominently on the web merchant's web site."

In practice, it's giving customers "badges" for writing product reviews based on whether others found the submission useful or not. (Kudos to Techdirt for the tip. We'd give you a badge to show our appreciation, but...)

Such an (arguably) obvious idea handed off to the US Patent Office could probably be overlooked nowadays if not for the sweet irony of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling way back in 2000 for "fewer patents, of higher average quality."

Then again, Bezos' usage of "average" does leave room for some standard deviation. Clever.

But at least Amazon's latest patent isn't likely to be a repeat of the vendor's much publicized 1-Click crusade. Ebay and other retailers that use similar customer review rating systems can breathe a sigh of relief.

Amazon has mercifully narrowed the process down to a particular formula* for awarding a score for customer reviews. And given the patent's original submission date being April 2001, it's clear the USPO was obliged to give the filing a good deal of scrutiny this round as well.

The vendor's infamous 1-Click trouble began in 1999 when it was awarded a patent for allowing customers to purchase items without having to enter shipping and billing information each time. Its legal team was soon unleashed against rival online book vendor, Barnes and Noble which also allowed customers to skip the metaphorical shopping cart system. The immediate result of Amazon's legal campaign was a cooling effect on similar conveniences across online retailers.

Eventually, the patent was toppled and then narrowed to identify a more specific process.

Benzos then became an advocate for patent reform, teaming with Tim O'Reilly who once vowed to defeat the 1-Click patent until Bezos became an attraction at 2.0'Reilly events.

Then everyone at Amazon got amnesia and it was back to business as usual. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.