Amazon 1-Click Patent Zeroed Out
The long-running battle between Amazon.com and a New Zealand movie technician over Amazon’s 1-Click patent not only turned out poorly for Amazon, but a twist at the end mentioned why a prominent figure in the tech industry may have decided to back off from fighting this battle.
Peter Calveley’s role as fight coordinator for the astonishing Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is sufficient to make him a geek hero. His work at taking down, single-handedly, what has been long considered a dubious patent at best, probably pushed him from hero to the Olympic pantheon of, heh, geek gods.
Calveley disputed Amazon’s 1-Click patent, and the US Patent Office has now rejected the patent due to evidence of prior art. He submitted several examples, resulting in the Patent Office issuing an Office Action siding not just with Calveley’s requests for review, but more:
I had only requested the USPTO look at claims 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21 and 22 but the Office Action rejects claims 11-26 and claims 1-5 as well!
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 2/3 of the time.
An interesting coda to this comes from The Register. Andrew Orlowski recounted a little history behind the 1-Click patent, namely tech publisher Tim O’Reilly’s one-time outrage about it, and how that mellowed over time:
Millionaire tech publisher Tim O’Reilly once vowed to torpedo Amazon.com’s 1-Click patent. Against a backdrop of widespread outrage over Amazon’s aggressive use of the patent, O’Reilly created a contest to find prior art to undermine the IP claim, and thus invalidate the patent. However, O’Reilly quietly dropped the campaign; saying he would never disclose it because he trusted Amazon.com CEO Bezos not to use it.
Following that cockle-warming tribute to his integrity, Bezos became a regular star turn at O’Reilly’s web evangelism conferences. These days, O’Reilly’s VC fund AlphaTech Ventures is supported by Bezos, and represented by the same firm of attorneys, Fenwick & West, which is defending Amazon.com against Peter Calveley.