Friday, June 15, 2007

Patenting a Button

Once again, an example of a patent not advancing the arts and sciences, as they are supposed to.

eBay implemented a feature on their site, one I have used many times, called "Buy it Now". This, if enabled by a seller, allows you to do just what it says, skip the auction and buy it right away.

MercExchange filed a patent infringement lawsuit against eBay, and won that suit, although they failed to get an injunction against eBay.

I fail to see how something as simple as Buy it Now could be patented. That is patenting an idea, something that should not be happening under the law or common sense.


Anonymous said...

Dude -- all patents are about patenting an "idea," as long as you explain how to implement the idea. Of course, the idea has to be novel and not obvious. But other than that, patents protect ideas.

watching_eyes said...

Ummmm, no. A patent covers an "implementation" of an idea, NOT the idea itself.

For example, both you and I could own a patent on a method of distributing television content over the internet. You and I have the same idea, but completely different implementations let's say.

Neither of us would own the patent on the idea, but both of us would own patents on our respective implementations.

In-fact, you admit this in your post in a round-about way. You say you can "patent an idea as long as you explain how to implement the idea". The whole point of explaining the implementation is it is precisely the implementation that you are patenting!

There are many examples of valid patents that cover the same or very similar ideas but widely differing implementations of that idea.

However, by using extremely broad implementation language, patent attorneys have essentially begun patenting whole categories of products and leeching off of the market while producing absolutely nothing of value to anyone other than the owners and attorneys whatsoever. This is what I have a problem with.

Philip. said...

Patenting a buy-it-npw button does seem crazy!

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