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Amazon paying $40 million for ecommerce patent settlement

So who else is in the sights of Soverain Software?

   
9:17 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Spotted this article in the Seattle Times.
"Amazon.com, the world's largest Internet retailer, agreed to pay $40 million to Soverain Software to settle two lawsuits over patents related to online shopping."

Source: [seattletimes.nwsource.com ]

I wonder if and when this will affect all the major players in the ecommerce software side.

"We entered the settlement for the purposes of ending the litigation and avoiding the expenses of continuing the litigation," said Patricia Smith, a spokeswoman for Amazon.com. "We continue to deny any wrongdoing."

Amazon.com settled yesterday, before jury selection was to begin next week in federal court in Tyler, Texas, said Kenneth Adamo, a lawyer for closely held Soverain. Soverain, based in Chicago, sued Amazon.com last year, accusing it of infringing five patents tied to online payment and identification of users.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 1:55 pm (utc) on Aug. 12, 2005]
[edit reason] left quote [/edit]

11:24 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Some background here from back at the beginning the lawsuit

Amazon sued over shopping carts - story at silicon.com [silicon.com]

Amazon says it is now being pursued by Soverain over patent number 5,708,780 for Internet Server Access Control and Monitoring Systems. This is also known as the "session identifier patent," and not only lets online retailers analyse how users browse through content on a website, but also can be used to limit access to specific content, including subscriptions or account information. The patent does not cover cookies but could affect other methods of tracking customers, including digital certificates.

And here's the original U.S.patent

Internet server access control and monitoring systems [patft.uspto.gov]

There's question of whether business processes can be patented, but could this possibly affect use of Session IDs?

[edited by: Marcia at 11:24 am (utc) on Aug. 12, 2005]

11:24 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



It scares me to think of all the patents that have been granted for standard techniques that many sites use because the techniques are just plain common sense. I mean, at what point will my sites become so popular that they become targets for patent-infringement suits because I like to record customer information when someone makes a purchase?

On the other hand, Amazon is the owner of the famed "one-click checkout" patent which is also just plain common sense. Maybe they got what they deserve...

11:30 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Very scary indeed.
Does the fact that I am based in Europe protect me in any way from these types of lawsuits?
11:30 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Marcia,

I know it seems crazy, but many business processes have been patented over the past 5 years or so. Have you heard something that might challenge the validity of this?

11:42 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This is the first I've heard of this one, but do rememember Amazon trying to nail Barnes & Noble. No idea if patents can be challenged, but they need to get a little more savvy about what's a new, original invention and what's common business practice before granting patents.
1:04 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Some of us remember the concern over the use of GIF compression in 1994, when there was a concern by many that Compuserve was going to demand a usage fee for their graphics format. Now LZW compression is licenced to software manufacturers and the fee is hidden in the price of graphics software packages like JASC Paint Shop and Photoshop.

If session tracking becomes a problem, we might see the same thing happening in the price of server platforms like IIS and Apache, or in the engines that employ the technique, like Zend PHP or ASP.NET

The end user still pays the bill

If all the commonsense patent holders get lidigious, I'd rather see increased prices in server-side tools than risk the threat of an individual lawsuit for using a technology like SSI or Cookies.

1:12 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



There was a company a few years ago, that was trying to swindle around $5000.00 from a lot of mom and pop operations. They could not afford the legal bills, so most of them shelled out the money for a license to be left alone. Maybe somebody remenbers this from around 2003.

Not sure what happened to this company...

[edited by: rogerd at 4:21 pm (utc) on Aug. 12, 2005]

3:32 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Time to think of 2-3 technologies/methods which will be widely used in the next 10 years and get a damn patent :) .
3:37 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



These poeple are nothing short of criminals. Reminds me of the mafia going around and extorting money from people. I see the gap also paid them, i wonder who else they are trying to shake down?
4:32 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The patent office tries to stop the so called "submarine patent". People file patents and sit on them knowing that they can pop up later and start collecting.

The patent office is bogged down with worthless patents and common sense patents. Not a lot of original or innovative things. Companies file everything these days.

Just becase the patent office gives you a patent doesn't mean you have any right to collect any money. The courts can decide wether the patent has any real value or not. Just because some bozo at the patent office gave it to you means nothing. The guys at the patent office don't even understand what they are reading half the time. All the talented people are out designing stuff not sitting around approving patents.
I should know I have three patents that are worthless myself.

They should have stuck it out.

5:51 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



The stupid thing was that Divine (who owned the patent) was sold to Soverain for 28 million dollars, in a bankruptcy sale in 2003.

Amazon could have bought the bankrupt company assets two years ago, owned, the infringing patent, and still be $12 million ahead.

But hindsight is 20/20.

6:42 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



USPTO may well be violating this patent [patft.uspto.gov] on their own site .. they have those shopping cart links up there ;)

[edited by: jatar_k at 6:44 pm (utc) on Aug. 12, 2005]
[edit reason] fixed sidescroll [/edit]

2:09 am on Aug 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



>> Have you heard something that might challenge the validity of this?

for a patent to be valid, it must be non-obvious. If challenged, I personally would think this patent would loose. But, somebody has to challenge it... and challenging anything in the legal system comes at an extremely high price... a price so high, even Amazon.com was not willing to bear.

7:39 pm on Aug 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member




There was a company a few years ago, that was trying to swindle around $5000.00 from a lot of mom and pop operations. They could not afford the legal bills, so most of them shelled out the money for a license to be left alone. Maybe somebody remenbers this from around 2003.

I remember that. Wonder if that is the same company that went under...
In any case these patents are ridiculous and Amazon should have fought it tooth and nail and done a favor to themselves, other webmasters (like the mom and pops who got jipped for $5,000), and the future of software in the internet world. A precedent setting case like that could open the door to other unreasonable software patents being revoked (I think ... I'm not a lawyer ;).
8:00 pm on Aug 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member




Does the fact that I am based in Europe protect me in any way from these types of lawsuits?

Yup, as far as I know it still does: EU Parliament bins software patent bill [theregister.co.uk]

The European Parliament has voted by a massive majority to reject the software patents directive, formally known as the Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions. The vote to scrap the bill was passed by a margin of 648 votes to 14, with 18 abstentions.
...
3:40 pm on Aug 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The Electonic Frontier Foundation has a project whose goal is to invalidate these types of crazy patents.

Here's info about their patent busting project:

[eff.org...]

3:54 pm on Aug 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Frivolous patents are not confined to software. I read a couple of days ago where Monsanto was trying to patent pig breeding.

[rednova.com...]

Strange times. I don't know where all those piglets came from before Monanto got involved...

WBF

4:42 pm on Aug 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



>> I read a couple of days ago where Monsanto was trying to patent pig breeding.

There are some funny patents out there.... If you just search around the online patent office, you can find some funny ones.

For example, there is this one guy who was granted a patent on the method of pushing someone on a swing... lol... I dunno what he plans on doing with it, but I suppose he could go around to playgrounds and bully kids.

12:09 am on Aug 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Here's a new one - Dell is being sued over a patent to autoplay DVD's
[news.zdnet.com...]