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Amazon's 1-click hit with patent loss in Oz

Some bits of One-Click patent aren’t original

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Australia’s Patent Office has decided that some aspects of Amazon’s notorious “1-click” patent lack either “novelty” or “an inventive step”, in a decision handed down on May 9th.

Opposition to the patent under Australian jurisdiction was filed by Telstra back in 2003. Telstra had objected to the patent on the basis of twenty “prior art” documents, but according to the decision had only relied on some of its prior art in the patent hearings.

The venerable Dr Dobbs even managed a mention in the hearing, cited as an example of prior art from an article entitled Implementing a Web-Shopping Cart. Telstra had also cited the Digicash e-cash system, and Open Market Technical white paper, Telstra’s own “Click-Call” patent, and a Japanese patent filed by Hitachi.

However, the decision notes that Amazon’s lawyers had, in several instances, identified features of Amazon’s claims that were not present in Telstra’s prior art instances.

In the end, the Australian Patent Office delegate Ed Knock fulfilled the principles of nominative determinism, knocking a slew of Amazon’s claims – with the caveat that the Internet book giant has 60 days to revise its claim.

In the world of legal PR, the decision rates as a “win” for Telstra, if for no other reason than costs were awarded against Amazon. However, this analysis by Australian blog Patentology (operated by patent attorney Dr Mark Summerfield) describes it as a “Pyrrhic victory”, noting that “the claims that have survived the Australian opposition are, to our knowledge, the broadest of any of the ‘1-click’ patent family members.

“For all practical purposes, after years of proceedings and (no doubt) tens of thousands of dollars in costs (at least), Telstra has gained no meaningful freedom-to-operate out of the opposition,” the blog notes. ®

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