While everyone else is left scratching their heads, Amazon and its lawyers are patting themselves on the back. The company has managed to (re)confirm a patent for 1-Click, a method of buying stuff online with, you guessed it, just one click. And that's it, that's all there is to it. If you deploy a system that enables customers to purchase anything online just by pressing one button, you will be infringing on Amazon's patent.
It has been a long battle for Amazon, which has been pursuing this patent for more than a decade now. It was initially granted the patent, which was filed in 1997, and named Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as one of its creators, but this was disputed later on. In 2006, the patent went into review again by the US Patent Office (USPTO) and, at one point, many of the company's claims in the patent were rejected.
But Amazon didn't give up so easily and made a few amendments to the original patent claim, which were intended to rectify the counter-claims. Actually, 'amendments' may be a bit of a stretch, Amazon just added six new words, "purchasable through a shopping cart model," and changed an 'a' to a 'the.' Based on these changes and after a four-year re-review process, the USPTO has decided that Amazon's claims can indeed be patentable and has granted it to the e-commerce giant. The only change is that it now applies only for sites that have a 'shopping cart' in the purchase process, which is just about every online shop out there.
This decision, obviously, nurtures and encourages innovation and competition, which is, after all, what the patent laws in the US and elsewhere were created for and, supposedly, are about. Innovation like the online book store of Barnes and Noble having to add more, absolutely useless, clicks to the purchase process in order to stand apart from Amazon's 1-Click. "Ladies and gentlemen, we now have confirmation that the USPTO is a joke," as Techdirt Founder Mike Masnick puts it