BT et C

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Was hoping to see something about this at my favorite blog, but I guess I'll have to strike the match.

Might as well fisk...(Source)
"Amazon, in its latest filing, is seeking to patent its idea for creating a marketplace where third-party Web services providers can link up with consumers."
-ideas are not supposed to be patentable
-creating a marketplace where providers of X can link up with consumers is not AMZN's idea. It was invented by Wal Mart in 1962. Before that, there were no marketplaces anywhere. (I'm just kidding)

"In the marketplace, consumers can search for Web services and read comments and reviews from others who have used the service."
-looking for products and reading about them does not strike me as very new.

"Amazon can also provide the suppliers of these services with assurances that only authorized consumers can access their offerings."
-Providing assurances to your vendors that only authorized consumers can buy their products does not strike me as new.
-What's an authorized consumer?
-I think it means that AMZN won't be activating webservices until they know the identity of the purchaser.
-Identifying people before you hand over the things they have purchased does not strike me as new.

"its marketplace technology seeks to address the lack of easy-to-use methods for collecting consumers' Web services payments, as well as to provide Web services companies with ways to manage and monitor their offerings"
-Easy-to-use methods for collecting payments does not strike me as new.
-Providing vendors with editable information about what they are vending does not strike me as new.

This is getting tiresome, but one last point: AMZN has not heard of google, or UDDI, or I guess anything WS-related.
"Current Web services implementations do not typically provide effective means for potential consumers to discover or locate Web services"

This, of course, is not the first time AMZN has gone beyond the pale, so hopefully we're agreed that there's a Problem. Big one. Solutions?

Obvious and Immediate:
1. Cease using AMZN for anything.
Plausibility: piece o' cake. Impact: little
2. Build an interface for convenient consumption/purchasing of registered webservices, and pray to Heaven that AMZN sues you and makes you famous.
Plausibility: not tough (a few days of coding). Impact: could be zero, or huge, depending on AMZN's response.

3. I liked the idea of making it a crime (fraud) to attempt to patent something that meets a certain standard of obviousness and frivolousness. Right now there's little to lose (except the $10K application fee) in AMZN's approach of just scatter-shooting patent applications and see what sticks.
Plausibility: dunno. Impact: meh. Might just foment a whole new batch of lawsuits over the standard of frivolousness.
4. Immediate and complete revocation of the USPTO's ability to grant patents on computer-implemented inventions.
Plausibility: slim. Impact: Huge
5. Move to Europe/Asia/????, where this debate is still a going concern.
Plausibility: wavers. Impact: on me, personally, pretty substantial. The American software industry could care less, but is marching steadily toward irrelevance.
6. Go into some other line of work, not related to the Internet, or software, or pretty much computers at all.
Plausibility: wavers. Impact: vis-a-vis software patents, a great deal. But vis-a-vis annoying abuses of power, it'd be six of one half dozen of the other in pretty much any industry.


  • I did want to blog on this. and I might still, I just got "busy" this weekend. and by "busy" I mean "lazy"

    in short, everything you said is correct, and some of my own...

    Amazon is trying to say that there is no Strikeiron, there is only Amazon.

    particularly upsetting is that sites like have not said anything yet. they may still be formulating their response, but from the abstract of the application, it appears that Amazon is trying to patent Strikeiron, which already exists. and you don't have to be a libertarian to call that coercive. (but being a libertarian helps in that you get to call *everything* coercive)

    there is also which is the free/development/little-brother version of strikeiron. cloning one of these sites would constitute, to Amazon, a sueable offense. the trick would be to make a big-enough splash (either in volume or with press)

    but something that might be able to do it is an open-source version of xmethods...? a sort of CPAN or PEAR for services?

    basically, yes...write the interface for convenient consumption of web services, but restrict it to only those services that are open-source. I've found them particularly lacking in quantity, but that uniqueness may be enough to get the name out there.

    haven't thought much about it yet, so this is just the prelim idea.

    By Blogger luke, at 6:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home