July 28, 2005 9:02 AM PDT

Amazon files for Web services patent

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.
Amazon.com has received a public airing of its patent application for an online marketplace where consumers search and pay for Web services.

The patent application, filed last year and published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, marks the online retailing giant's latest attempt to make inroads into consumers' wallets.

Amazon, in its latest filing, is seeking to patent its idea for creating a marketplace where third-party Web services providers can link up with consumers.

In the marketplace, consumers can search for Web services and read comments and reviews from others who have used the service. Amazon can also provide the suppliers of these services with assurances that only authorized consumers can access their offerings.

"Although Web services allow various applications and computers to interact, the current implementations and uses of Web services have various problems," Amazon said in its filing. "Current Web services implementations do not typically provide effective means for potential consumers to discover or locate Web services that are desired or that may be of interest."

Amazon also notes its marketplace technology seeks to address the lack of easy-to-use methods for collecting consumers' Web services payments, as well as to provide Web services companies with ways to manage and monitor their offerings.

In its role as an intermediary for the marketplace, Amazon would collect a fee from companies providing the service. In its filing, Amazon notes that after receiving a customer's payment for a third-party Web service, it will provide "at least some of the obtained payment for the subscriptions to the third-party Web services provider that registered the...service."

In March, Amazon was granted a U.S. patent for "Methods and systems of assisting users in purchasing items," including the use of gift-buying habits to determine the age, gender and birthday of gift recipients.

Correction: This story incorrectly reported the status of Amazon's patent application. The application was published Thursday; it had been filed last year.


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They'd better not get it
I don't know all the details, but it looks like if they get the patent, that will put an end to anyone selling anything on the web. All transactions will have to submit a percentage to amazon.
It shouldn't be allowed because it was already commonplace to have vendors sell items before amazon came along.
It would be the end of E-Bay.
Posted by danwoe (1 comment )
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The application itself implies patent should not be granted
"... the current implementations and uses of Web services have various problems," Amazon said in its filing ...

What they are saying is that what they are trying to patent is just a straightforward solution to an immediate problem. If someone else tried to solve the same problem she would probably have arrived at a similar solution. Is there any reason to grant a 20 years monopoly on a straightforward solution to an immediate problem?

Being an intermediary acting to promote services or products and handling the payment for the products/services for a commision is nothing new. Is there a real reason to grant Amazon monopoly over this well known business process just because they narrow it down to so called "web services"?

Is there any reason to give anyone a monopoly for "doing this with a computer" or "doing that with a computer" just because the word "computer" is used in addition to "this" or "that"?

A computer is a universal apparatus in the sense that anything that can be described can be done with a computer (equipped with the right peripherals if it is to have effect on the external world). There is nothing innovative about being able to do something with a computer that can be done without one. The fact that a computer can perform any describable task predaets computers. It is not that there was a computer invented and later people realized that various things can be done with it. It was the opposite: more than ten years before the first digital computer was invented Turing has showed the possibility of creating a universal apparatus that can perform anything that can be described. Then after several years of searching for a practical implementation the digital computer was invented: the same computer that we are still using nowadays. And it was invented because it was known in advance that it could replae any control mechanism that performs a describable task, and any describable task that was not performed by anything before it was invented. So why is it so hard for the patent examiners to realize that there is nothing innovative in all those Amazon patent claims that was not known in 1936? Anything in all thise patent claims that was not already known to be possible more than half a century ago are straightforward descriptions of obvious solutions to immediate problems. They are not inventions!
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
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