Tuesday, March 15, 2005

EU Patent Law Is Bringing Europe This?

If you want to see how absurd the US patent law system is with respect to the internet, take a look at this March 9, 2005 article at ZDNet UK by Matthew Broersma entitled Amazon patents gender stereotyping.

Amazon.com through the gifted inventor Zhengrong Song, who has assigned the March 8, 2005 patent on "Methods and systems of assisting users in purchasing items" to Amazon.com, has received US Patent Nr. 6,865,546.

Here is a sample commentary by Broersma about that patent:

"The patent concerns inferring information about gift recipients and using that information to suggest appropriate items and services, such as birthday or Valentine's Day reminders and age- and gender-appropriate gifts. 'For example, if the purchased toy is a dress for a doll, it may be inferred that the recipient is a girl', the patent states."

Or how about patenting the inference that if someone buys a Harry Potter book by J.K. Rowling that this person is a "fan" of such books who could be so marketed. This "patent absurdity" knows no end.

Thankfully, this absurd patent system has not yet reached Europe in legal form, but it may, if European supporters of software patents and patents on internet methodology get their way. As Broersma writes:

"Web sites using such techniques may now be compelled to pay Amazon a licence fee, at least in the US. Patents on pure software and business processes (or the idea of writing software that supposes girls may like dolls) are currently not enforceable in Europe, but a draft directive on the "patentability of computer-implemented inventions" now making its way through the European Parliament could remove most restrictions, the directive's opponents claim...."

In any case, this is a ZDNet article well worth a read.

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