A Decade Later, Amazon Finds Itself on Other Side of '1-Click' Patent Battle

The Recorder


Jason Schultz, an IP lawyer who's the acting director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, said Cordance's Internet commerce patent on an "object-based online transaction infrastructure" is "just as suspect" as the Amazon 1-click patent, entitled a "method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network."

"This is the hard lesson that Amazon learned and that a lot of software companies learn," Schultz said. "You think these patents are great when you own them, but really it's a minefield." Even more ironically, it may help Amazon's case that its 1-click patent was the target of so much criticism a decade ago. At the time, tech-industry publisher Tim O'Reilly led the vocal opposition to the bookseller's patent, calling it "an attempt to hoodwink a patent system that has not gotten up to speed on the state of the art in computer science." O'Reilly even put out a $10,000 bounty for anyone that could come up with prior art -- information or technology that was already public -- to prove it wasn't an invention and bust the patent. Although angry techies turned up a mountain of prior art, they couldn't invalidate the patent, though it is now being re-examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However in Amazon's suit against Barnes & Noble, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned an injunction Amazon had won, saying that Barnes & Noble had "raised substantial questions as to the validity" of the 1-click patent.