Archived Blog Post: February 27, 2000
No Web Patents is irritated at amazon.com, and no wonder. Amazon seems to have a particular prediliction for finding broad reaching patents on trivial inventions and then using them against competitors.
On the other hand, today's Patent Office encourages patenting everything in sight, or someone else will come along and do it and use it against you. If amazon.com didn't patent everything they could, they'd be foolish. However, they could patent things, and then not use them except defensively, when they were sued for patent infringement first.
Meanwhile, what does it take to get the patent system fixed? Not the laws, the laws were flawed but workable. What does it take to get the USPTO to stop patenting obvious inventions, or patenting things that already exist just because someone put the word "Internet" in the patent application (Priceline's reverse auction model is the same model by which securities have been bought and sold for years, on computer networks no less; affiliate programs are nothing more than finder's fees online; etc.)? I've heard a lot of whining. What does it take to change things?