In Which We Regretfully File Our Application For A Patent On The Universe

November 16th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

There is something disquieting about the recent patent awarded to for its customer review technology. While we can’t recall if the online giant was the first to offer a form to post reviews, we do know that the practice rapidly became all the rage. In addition to those programmers who faithfully attempt to duplicate the Amazon model (flattery fully intended), how many websites out there have grown their own? How many websites will continue in full and blissful ignorance? Patent, what patent?

It’s a bit like patenting the wheel. Online reviews are a mature forum, though the folks at Internet News seem unaware of this:

User reviews are a hot new content area. . .

Sure there are elements of the patent that could be unique to Amazon — like the purchase circles, where you are offered insight into what people like you have purchased. Yes, it’s true, Amazon has patented cocktail conversation. Where things will get sticky (and probably unevenly enforced) is here:

But the patent even covers collecting reviews by letting visitors to a Web site fill out a form.

Something tells us that if the war is engaged, and why prepare the battle plans in such a manner if not?, then Amazon will find itself fighting a different kind of battle. As the article indicates, there are already lawsuits challenging the company on key components of its technology. If it is determined that someone else hold the patent to using a customer’s purchase history to make recommendations (which should have clerks in retail outlets around the world shaking in fear), then wouldn’t that undermine the key argument of purchase circles?

File Under: The Business of Publishing