Feeds

Amazon patents 'customer review incentives'

Bezos unreformed

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.