Yesterday while browsing comments on Slashdot I found a link to an article at LinuxToday on Tim O'Reilly's Open Letter: Rethinking the One-Click Patent which contains the following excerpt from a posting by Tim O'Reilly on the Amazon 1-Click patent controversy

People in many areas of commerce, not just on the Web but also TV and radio (as evidenced by some of our prior art submissions), have put a lot of thought into making the shopping experience quicker and easier. And yet none of these folks really managed to simplify it to the same degree that Amazon did with 1-Click. In the end, we did not have a winner, and it doesn't look as if the prior art submitted can "knock out" the 1-Click patent...So I want to offer Jeff something of an apology. At the same time, at the risk of appearing a "sore loser," I want to reiterate that my fundamental issue with Amazon was never the specific claims of the 1-Click patent. Even if Amazon did create a genuine e-commerce innovation, I maintain that it was still a mistake for them to patent it.

I remember the hubbub on Slashdot about Amazon's 1-Click patent and Tim O'Reilly's bounty for prior art but don't remember this ever getting posted. So it seems that despite all the claims of "obviousness" from the Slashdot crowd, no prior art could be found. I guess it is true that all innovations look obvious in hindsight.

Another interesting data point is this post on Slashdot about the various patent lawsuits Amazon is currently fighting. Lots of people like to polarize the debate about software patents but in truth the situation isn't as cut and dried as folks on either side of the debate like to make it seem.


Wednesday, July 6, 2005 2:59:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
We don't have to worry about these type of things on this side of the pond for a while, because the current version of the preposed Euro Software Patents is dead.

The European Parliament voted 648 to 14 to reject the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005 8:07:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
UK law does not permit computer programs or business methods to be patented. It also has a requirement for an 'inventive step' - the invention must not be "obvious to a person skilled in the art." 1-Click could not be patented under UK law.

However the UK Patent Office _has_ permitted inventions to be patented which _contain_ software as part of the description - the invention may not be entirely software. The UK Patent Office claims ( that the purpose of the proposal was to continue to allow this practice and harmonise it with other European patent offices, and the European Patent Office.

And we still have to worry about idiotic patents granted by the USPTO, because, under various intellectual property treaties, a UK company or individual can be brought up for infringement of a US patent, I believe.
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