posted Oct 06, 2000

Patent Battle Takes TV Turn
10/6/2000; 9:31:12 AM

'In an application filed last week, OpenTV moved to extend its existing patent on interactive TV technology, filed in 1994. The extension seeks to expand the original patent, U.S. patent number 5,819,034, to cover one-click electronic purchases -- the technical process by which an online shopper makes a purchase with a single click of a pointing device.'

These people appear to have a patent on the idea of a "BUY" button on your TV remote.

This is a good demonstration of a major problem with the patent system. I have a very hard time seeing how the technology for the two systems is related. Oh, granted, the principles at work are the same. But it's not like you could take a television buying system, make a few tweaks, and have a One-Click purchasing system. There's no particular relationship.

If Amazon had merely patented their particular implementation of One-Click shopping, as patents are supposed to protect implementations, then we probably wouldn't have any problems. Nobody would do it exactly the same way again, with exactly the same architecture and exactly the same lines of code. But why does Amazon get to patent the entire concept of "one-click shopping" (hardly a ground-breaking patent anyhow), and why would a technically-unrelated patent on "one-button push shopping" interfere, in either direction, with a one-click shopping patent? Why is conceptual similarity enough?

(Because lawyers and patent offices refuse to admit they have no clue about computer, and actively refuse to get one.)


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