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November 11, 2005

Ridiculous Patent of the Day

-- by Dave Johnson

Amazon Gets Patents on Consumer Reviews,

The patent covers methods of forming circles and marketing to them, for example, by showing one person looking at a book detail page and who else in the circle has bought that book.

The second patent covers a method of discovering and delivering as search results related products from multiple categories, such as books written by Steve Martin, as well as DVDs of movies in which he appeared.

The third patent is the real kicker. It covers methods for encouraging consumers to write reviews of items they've purchased by determining the optimal times to send them e-mails or reminders.
. . . the patent even covers collecting reviews by letting visitors to a Web site fill out a form. [emphasis added]

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 11, 2005 12:02 PM

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You thinks that's silly? I'm working on a silent auction for a social group and discovered that I can't put bar codes on the bid sheets because some company patented the idea. Wow, how could they have been so blindingly clever to come up with that idea?

Posted by: Jim Heim at November 11, 2005 5:25 PM

The patent system is out of control with these being only isolated examples. It's broken both with respect to the domain of patentable subject matter and with respect to patent owership. Re domain: the examples of Google mentioned and the patenting of more than 20% of the human genome - your genes. Re ownership: Large Pharma now produce almost no new drugs, but rely on buying out the patents of startup companies and those obtained by university researchers (w/development costs paid with your tax dollars) and holding the world hostage for the duration of the patent. Behind reform of electoral districting and campaign financing, reform of the patent system should be third or forth on the list.

Posted by: johns at November 13, 2005 10:06 AM

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