[ffii] Amazon one-click patent still lingering in Europe after 15 years

Stephan Uhlmann uhlmann at ffii.org
Tue Jan 15 16:17:52 CET 2013

PRESS RELEASE -- [ Patents / Innovation / Economy ]
Amazon one-click patent still lingering in Europe after 15 years

Munich, 15 January 2013 - The king of trivial software and business methods 
patents, Amazon's "one-click gift order", is still not dead in Europe. After 
15 years of existence, the European Patent Office (EPO) today revoked it on 
precarious grounds which warrant another appeal.

This patent EP0927945 was already revoked once in 2007, after being granted in 
2003. However the Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) revived the patent in 2009 
and resubmitted it to the Opposition Division, because the “single action” 
(one click) had not yet be proven to be known in the prior art. In today’s 
hearing, the Opposition Division considered this feature both patentable and 
novel, but not inventive. However the Opposition Division considered its 
combination with the gift ordering process to be not inventive enough.

FFII expects that Amazon will appeal to this decision again so the opposition 
procedure will likely continue even more. The patent was filed in 1998, 15 
years ago, while a patent maximum life is 20 years.

FFII analyst Georg Jakob, who represented the FFII in today's hearing, 
explains: "The obvious action that should have been taken 15 years ago was to 
reject the patent as a software patent on the grounds of Art. 52(2)c European 
Patent Convention (EPC). The claims mention only elements of standard data 
processing units (i.e. a plain and simple computers) and instructions how to 
operate it - software. That is exactly how we define a software patent."

"Amazon's infamous patent can be considered a perfect showcase for much of 
what is wrong with today's patent system in Europe.", adds FFII board member 
Stephan Uhlmann.

Background information

The patent application dating from 1998 outlines a "method in a computer 
system for co-ordinating delivery of a gift from a gift giver to a recipient, 
the gift and recipient being  specified in a gift order." In 2004 the FFII 
e.V. as well as the Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. and Fleurop-Interflora 
European Business Company AG opposed to Amazons one-click gift order patent 
granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) as EP0927945. Contrary to 
different reports the patent was still valid and in force in Europe. Due to 
the opposition by FFII et al. the patent was revoked in 2007. But Amazon 
appealed to this decision leading the EPO to set the revocation aside and the 
case was remitted to the opposition department.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, who is cited in the patent as a 
co-inventor, was recently quoted: "Patents are supposed to encourage 
innovation and we’re starting to be in a world where they might start to 
stifle innovation. Governments may need to look at the patent system and see 
if those laws need to be modified because I don’t think some of these battles 
are healthy for society."


* More detailed report from the hearing

* Chronology and background information:

* Press release 2013-01-14 "FFII still challenges Amazon one-click gift order 

* Permanent link to this press release

Contact information

FFII Office Berlin 
Malmöer Str. 6 
D-10439 Berlin 
Fon: +49-30-41722597 
Fax (office service): +49-721-509663769
Email: office (at) ffii.org

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in twenty European countries, 
dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, 
based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 
3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as 
their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights 
(intellectual property) in data processing.

More information about the News mailing list