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Amazon Gift Ordering Patent Revoked In EU 62

Elektroschock writes "The Amazon gift ordering patent was revoked by the European Patent Office. In a press release they write: 'The so-called 'Gift Order Patent' has been revoked by the EPO in an opposition proceeding today after a hearing involving three opposing parties and the patent proprietor, Amazon Inc. The patent relates to a method for purchasing goods over the Internet to be sent as gifts.' Santa did not have to lodge opposition against the patent. The opponents were Fleurop, the FFII and the German computer science society. What strikes me is that so many parties were infringing upon the patent, and yet you need very few organizations to file an opposition. Why are not more patents opposed?"
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Amazon Gift Ordering Patent Revoked In EU

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Amazon in the US must be more on the ball with their gifts to the patent office.
    • by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:36PM (#21626925) Homepage
      Software and business method patents aren't allowed in Europe, and this "invention" seems to be a method of carrying on business implemented in software - someone buys something, and the vendor contacts the recipient to get a shipping address.

      In the US, however, such patents are permitted, so challenging it would be a bit more difficult.
      • Well you know i think that european union is making right, because this is such a stupid patent, i mean who gives amazon the permission to patent this method as if they were the owners of that idea. that of course they aren't
        • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @08:32PM (#21627915) Homepage
          I don't see how this is novel at all. It's the same as calling up the flourist and asking them to deliver flowers to somebody. Except that this is on the internet. Taking a normal everyday task, and attaching "On The Internet" to it should not make it patent worthy. The number of stupid patents that have been created since the internet came about is amazing. I mean, how could sending a gift to somebody be patentable in the first place.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jonbryce ( 703250 )
            Well it is the same as giving the florist the phone number of the recipient and asking them to phone her to find out where they should be delivered to. That clearly is not patentable, so European law says that doing it using a computer isn't patentable either.
      • by Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @06:58PM (#21627439) Homepage
        The problem is that the EPO still grants software and business method patents even though they aren't allowed and aren't currently enforceable, presumably for the cash. This means that if the (primarily US-based) business interests ever do manage to sneak Software Patents past the EU Parliament, all the previously granted patents would come into effect.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:38PM (#21626579)
    I think it's fairly obvious why so few patents are challenged. It requires an investment of time and money which isn't worth it if you can fly under the radar. And even when you do choose to make that investment there's never any guarantee that the decision will go your way.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:43PM (#21626611)
      Why are these even considered as possible patents anyways is the real question. How is this helping innovation either? For example, you can patent a T.V., however now you can patent "a device where viewers view audio and video at the same time from broadcasts over the air" and then the exact same patent with over the air replaced with Satellite/Cable. The first can help innovation because you can make an alternative device to a T.V. with the same function, like a T.V. only using an LCD screen rather then a CRT.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by init100 ( 915886 )

        Why are these even considered as possible patents anyways is the real question.

        For the corporations: Because they can. Getting a patent means that barriers are raised against possible competitors and the patent holder can sell their products at a higher price because of the reduced competition. Alternatively, they can offer patent licenses to competitors and thus get a piece of their revenue streams.

        For the patent office: For the money. Patent applications cost money, and at least where I live (Sweden), patents have a yearly maintenance cost (which actually rises for each year). G

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Eggplant62 ( 120514 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:01PM (#21626713)
      Also note that many times getting the legal representation you need is a very costly affair, and lots of plaintiffs in these cases have deep pockets. Even for a collection of "little guys" going after a deep-pocketed foe, it's going to take lots of these: $$$$$$$. The plaintiffs will drag their feet and find ways to make your lawyer and the court work harder, thus running up the court costs and attorney fees. Remember, in court everyone plays to win, and the best of everyone knows what loopholes to exploit to win.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) * on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:35PM (#21626919)
      I'd like to add that the sheer number of junk patents out there in the wild also plays a role. It's often only worthwhile when you're on the receiving end of patent litigation or a troll is trying to extort money.
    • by epine ( 68316 )
      Indeed it's a sad day when slashdot submissions attempt to think.

      What strikes me is that so many parties were infringing upon the patent, and yet you need very few organisations to file an opposition. Why are not more patents opposed?" []
    • So the biggest problem fighting unreasonable patents is that it is expensive and risky?
      That can be easily solved.

      Lets take a closer look at personal meaning of the word expensive
      A private jet would be very expensive to ME, but not to a businessman flying from New York to Tokyo 3 times a month.

      Since we have seen that it is expensive to most businesses to fight unreasonable patents due to the cost and risks involved in such an undertaking.
      We now only have to find or invent an entity to whom this might not be
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:46PM (#21626625) Homepage
    What strikes me is that so many parties were infringing upon the patent, and yet you need very few organisations to file an opposition. Why are not more patents opposed?

    Well, Everyone is sure that Someone will do it. Anyone could have done it, but Noone did it in the end. Someone was angry because it's Everyone's job. Everyone thought that Anyone could have done it, but Noone realized that Noone will end up doing it. In the end, Everyone was angry at Someone because Noone did what Anyone could've done.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Noone is not a word. You're probably looking for "no one".
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That spoils the scanning of the aphorism. Poetry, man. Your soul may have some, but slight bending of linguistic rules is permissible in human communication. One of those things that distinguishes man from machine (... for no...)
    • Very clever...I needed that laugh today.
    • Nobody reads the patent database. Not only is it full of crap, but if you do happen to come across something that you are actually using, then in case of a lawsuit you'd be risking doubling your damages for "willful infringement". These days nobody wants to state the obvious truth that the vast majority of infringed patented ideas are not stolen but reinvented.
  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:48PM (#21626641) Homepage
    This is a problem today since the patent procedures are created a long time ago and the last years the rise of the internet has created a new dimension of patent scrutiny possibility by the public. If there was an easy procedure for a filed patent to be opposed or scrutinized by the public online fewer non-original patents would be filed.

    Maybe the patent offices all over the world should take notice and improve their procedures? Some patents are actually not that bad, but some are too broad or for things already invented. Since the patent office workers not always have the knowledge necessary to figure out what a patent really is about they often grant patents instead of doing a more thorough analysis by using experts. And then there are patents written in a language that can't be penetrated by anyone else than advanced lawyers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is a problem today since the patent procedures are created a long time ago and the last years the rise of the internet has created a new dimension of patent scrutiny possibility by the public. If there was an easy procedure for a filed patent to be opposed or scrutinized by the public online fewer non-original patents would be filed.

      This is a sexy idea but certainly not practical. In reality nothing would ever get patented when competitors would argue against eachother until hell freezes over. Neither
      • by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @12:24AM (#21628871) Homepage

        The original idea to protect an invention for the commercial benefit of the inventor is lost in these ridiculous amazon-patents whose only purpose is to prevent competition and build a legal base for suing everybody that passes by.

        Is that what you really believe patents are for? The "commercial benefit of the inventor" isn't the reason to have patents. Where is the public domain in all this avarice? Useful patents are being drowned out by the frivolous. The courts are being bogged down by the rush to get triple damages on these frivolous patents. Both the patent and copyright systems are broken beyond all hope and need to be scrapped and revamped. The public domain needs an advocate that it doesn't have now. But that isn't going to happen because greed trumps good. Everyone in this system is looking for a perpetual payday, public good be damned.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GwaihirBW ( 1155487 )

      Public comment would be useful, but does that pose potential disclosure issues? Major corps that profit from easy patents (especially for their small-competitor-quashing capability: "Hi, we want to buy you out. Otherwise, we fling this patent at you. If you fight the patent, we can afford to keep it in court long enough to run you out of money.") will fight any such improvement, and I suspect that whether or not there's any merit to it, they'll say that disclosing the patent prior to approval will disadva

      • by Znork ( 31774 )
        "And any system will eventually get compromised somehow -- competitors flooding each other's patent comments, etc etc etc . ."

        Not any system. The trick is to cap the system so the playing parties are forced to cooperate to maximize the equitability of the system.

        The basic problem today is that the parties involved in the system are not the parties paying for the system. The players all benefit from maximizing the ease with which you get patents.

        What you could do instead would be to acknowledge that the econ
    • I've patented such a procedure, but the patent office and I can't come to a licensing agreement.
  • because... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:59PM (#21626699)
    It's expensive.
    You may not win.
    And it's not just you that benefits. If I oppose a patent and get it removed, then not only can I use that patent but so can everybody else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by klocka ( 1200367 )
      Then again, the upside is that you won't get sued by the corporation that had the gall to patent some absurd process in the first place and consequently be put out of business. The major problem, especially with the US patent office, is that patent examiners are paid on a quasi-commission scale. The more patents they approve, the better. They review patent applications with the question of whether there's any reason they absolutely cannot approve the application, not whether the application warrants appr
    • Depends on how you challenge it. If you challenge it on prior art, and you had the prior art, you can flip it and make it yours. On the other hand, if you argue it's unpatentable, then I see your point about everybody being able to take advantage of your (expensive) legal efforts.
  • FFII not AFFII (Score:2, Informative)

    by zoobab ( 201383 )
    Please correct your links about FFII Europe: [] []

    AFFII is for United States [] is for the United States.
  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RecoveredMarketroid ( 569802 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:17PM (#21626815)

    Why are not more patents opposed?
    Um... Because if I'm infringing on someone's patent, I may be a little reluctant to attract the attention of their legal department with my hostile patent-challenge action?
  • FFII vs Amazon: add a computer, and the EPO will give you software patents []

    FFII Vs Amazon: EPO practice is no legal foundation []
  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:39PM (#21626959)
    July 2005: The Grinch Who Patented Christmas [].
  • by Good Sumerian ( 459878 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:56PM (#21627029) Homepage
    ...Is that when the Elks make trouble for you?
  • Simple answer... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IPCanuck ( 1055714 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:34PM (#21627661)
    The answers to the question are fairly straightforward:
    1. The US doesn't have an 'opposition' system, where you can make your claims before a court to oppose the patent. All you can do is (first pay some money) give your evidence to the USPTO, and then go away and hope the applicant can't explain their way around it. Therefore, only European patents can be opposed.
    2. A European patent can only be opposed in this fashion within 9 months of it being granted.
    3. Other reasons as given above: if I win, it benefits everybody, but if I lose, it costs me greatly. My competition now has a proven good patent, and they know I don't like it. I'll be the first to be sued.

    Despite all this, about 1 in 20 EP granted patents are opposed. The US has an opposition system planned as part of the Patent Reform Act of 2007, but it's currently held up before the Senate.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why this thing isn't challenged.. It has been answered by others already. But there is another aspect which some don't seem to like touching but since I don't really care on stepping on long toes I'll add my 2 cents anyway. A very important aspect is that the EU isn't as anal with regards to patents as the US is. This has been proven time and time again in the past. The best recent example I can come up with is SCO. Where the US actually spend years to come up with some kind of court ruling (its still being
  • you're not a successful lawyer unless you have 43 billable hours per workday, after all.
  • Why bother (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bgspence ( 155914 )
    A patent gives the holder the right to defend the patent.

    If the patent holder doesn't bother you, why mess with them?

    The longer they let it go, the better your chances of defending against a bad patent.

    You do run a risk ignoring a strong one.
  • Some facts about oppositions in the European Patent Office: 1. They must be lodged within 9 months of grant.
    2. Anyone can file an opposition, including a "straw man", who is doing it for someone else. So opposing is not admitting infringement see []
    3. You do not need to appoint a professional representative; you can do it all yourself.
    4. The opposition is decided on the facts as understood by the opposition division of the EPO. Unlike a court case, what is said in the hearin

BLISS is ignorance.