[Clips] eCash: New Zealander challenges Amazon one-click patent

R. A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Tue Dec 20 15:06:59 PST 2005


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 From: "R. A. Hettinga" <rah at shipwright.com>
 Subject: [Clips] New Zealander challenges Amazon one-click patent
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 <http://unenumerated.blogspot.com/2005/12/new-zealander-challenges-amazon-one.html>

  Unenumerated

 A variety of topics, especially law and history.
 Tuesday, December 20, 2005

  New Zealander challenges Amazon one-click patent
 Caveat: As is with every post on this blog, this post is not legal advice.
 If you want to make, use, sell, offer to sell, challenge, or otherwise
 legally entangle yourself with Amazon's patent, consult a good patent
 laywer (I'm not even one of those quite yet either).

 Peter Calveley from New Zealand has asked the United States Patent &
 Trademark Office to re-examine the validity of Amazon's infamous
 "one-click" patent. One of the claims he is going after is Claim 11 which
 reads as follows:

 11. A method for ordering an item using a client system, the method
comprising:

 displaying information identifying the item and displaying an indication of
 a single action that is to be performed to order the identified item; and

 in response to only the indicated single action being performed, sending to
 a server system a request to order the identified item

 whereby the item is ordered independently of a shopping cart model and the
 order is fulfilled to complete a purchase of the item.

 Calveley has made great use of the Wayback Machine  to dig up old
 documents. Of particular interest is some of the old ecash(tm)
 documentation from DigiCash. It's of particular interest to me because way
 back when I worked for six months for DigiCash as a contractor.

 Ecash was the first digital cash payment system to be deployed on the web.
 Ecash deployed cutting-edge cryptography, in particular the blind signature
 which was one of the earliest patents for what was basically a pure
 algorithm. I describe blind signatures here.

 However, it's not the cryptography that's important here, but how ecash
 interacted with the web to order a product. The normal cycle of using ecash
 was as follows:

 (1) Click on a link or button on a web page to place an order with a merchant;

 (2) In response to this click the web server would (using a CGI script)
 start up the "shop" ecash software;

 (3) That software would contact the ecash client to request a payment;

 (4) The ecash client would pop up a screen to confirm a payment, and finally;

 (5) The user would click a button on the pop-up to confirm the order, and
 the order would be executed (the file delivered, the wager made, or
 whatever).

 This is a "two-click" process. However, ecash had another feature, which I
 personally only dimly remember, and never associated with the notorious
 one-click patent until now. But Calveley did make the link and has
 recovered the documentation for this feature. With this feature the user
 could alter step 4 to automate the payment. If a user trusted a merchant,
 he could configure the policy so that step 4 would not launch a pop-up, but
 would just go ahead and make the requested payment. The result was a
 one-click ordering process.

 The combination of ecash automated payment policy with web ordering, which
 is at least strongly implied by the documentation Claveley has enearthed
 and almost surely was actually deployed and used in a one-click manner,
 reads on Amazon's claim 11 and some associated claims.

 Calveley is the first to point out, as far as I know, that the automated
 payment policy setting of ecash, combined with a single click to order an
 item (e.g. to download a file or to make a wager), is a very good prior art
 reference which anticipates the Amazon one-click patent (or at least makes
 it even more blindingly obvious than we software engineers already thought
 it was).

 If you have personal information or know of further documentation about
 this feature, or any other product or design prior to 1997 that used
 one-click ordering, both myself and Peter Claveley are greatly interested
 in collecting this information.

 Also, Claveley's going forward with the re-examination is contingent upon
 him collecting enough donations to recoup the $2,500 USPTO fee for a patent
 re-examination. You can donate here.
 posted by Nick Szabo at 7:26 AM

 --
 -----------------
 R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
 The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
 "... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
 [predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
 experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
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-- 
-----------------
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'





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