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Amazon 1-Click Patent About to Expire

Twenty years ago this September, Amazon filed for a patent on its new “1-click” on-line ordering idea.  Now, its about to expire. 

For those of you that were not around when it issued, or the several years following, there was quite a lot of complaining about how unfair it was for Amazon to get this patent, and how it represented how bad patents are for software. Jeff Bezos himself even, for a time, was promoting a shorter term for software patents, in response in part to the criticism he received for the 1-click patent.  Of course, now all the doomsday predictions look silly, with the e-commerce revolution having quite handily survived Amazon’s 1-click patent.  Twenty years go by awful fast, we find out, as it seems like yesterday that the 1-click patent was issued.

One thing that has always fascinated me is that people can get incredibly upset, if a novel invention, that has been absent from civilization for thousands of years, is kept proprietary to an inventor for a mere additional twenty years, before it can be freely exploited by all.  Did it really hurt competitors of Amazon to have to wait twenty years to offer 1-click ordering?  If it did, we should see all of Amazon’s competitors make some big e-commerce gains in the next few years, as they deploy 1-click ordering to their heart’s content.  But I suspect that won’t be the case.

© 2017 Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, P.A. All Rights Reserved.

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About this Author

Steven Lundberg, Schwegman Lundberg Law Firm, IP Attorney
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Steven Lundberg is a registered patent attorney and a founding partner of Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner. His practice is focused on patent protection for software, medical and telecommunications technology, and related opinion and licensing matters. Steve received his B.S.E.E. in 1978 from the University of Minnesota, and his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law (J.D., 1982). He has published and spoken widely on software and electronic patent protection, is active in the Computer and Electronics Committee of the American Intellectual...

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