Feeds

Amazon patents 'customer review incentives'

Bezos unreformed

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.