Amazon patent foiled by lone gunman

by Mathew on October 17, 2007 · 4 comments

A heart-warming story — at least for those who have long thought that Amazon’s patent on the “one-click” buying system it uses on its website was stupid and should be struck down: the guy who has almost single-handedly been fighting to have the Amazon patent reviewed by the USPTO won his review, and many of the broad claims in the patent have been invalidated.

You can find out more on his blog, which is called IGDMLGD (for reasons that I haven’t been able to determine). As it turns out, the blogger is a chap named Peter Calveley, a New Zealander who has a science degree and a commerce degree and studied to become a patent attorney, although he has never practiced. His interest in the Amazon patent was apparently fueled by an unsatisfactory experience buying something on the website.

In an odd twist, Calveley has also worked as a motion-capture actor, wearing a capture suit in order to help create CGI battle scenes in movies such as Lord of the Rings. After realizing that none of the motion-capture actors were mentioned in the credits of the movie, Calveley protested this oversight and launched a campaign to have their contributions recognized.

In the case of the patent battle, Calveley managed to single-handedly do what Tim O’Reilly and others failed to do with their BountyQuest effort, which was designed to encourage people to search for and submit “prior art” that could invalidate patents such as Amazon’s, which O’Reilly has been criticizing for years.

  • http://leighhimel.blogspot.com Leigh

    “Fueled by an unsatisfactory experience buying something on the website”

    Ha! For any clients that think one customer can’t make a difference in their lives. I wonder if he got the same ditsy customer service agent that I did when i started my “give leigh her 10$ back Amazon.com” campaign years ago?

  • Mathew

    So why didn’t you get to work and crack their patent, Leigh? :-)

  • http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/ Bob Warfield

    Fabulous story! I had no sooner finished ranting about Google’s frivolous search widget patent and using Amazon’s 1-click as an example than I heard about this on ycombinator:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2007/10/17/google-patents-search-engine-partnerships-and-my-idea-doh/

    I think patents should be at least partially a function of the cost of developing the idea and less a function of who happened to slam an application through on an obvious idea soonest.

  • http://leighhimel.blogspot.com Leigh

    Because I was focused on my $10 Mathew….duh….
    (which i am happy to say after email number 20, they decided to make an exception and give back to me)

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