Recently the Internet has started to seem like a lighter, happier place. Web pages have been clearer, graphics have looked snappier, Flash advertisements have seemed a tiny bit less annoying. It's almost as if a great darkness has begun to lift.
What has been the cause of all of this good cheer? Why nothing less than the defeat of a great evil that has served as a symbol of all that is wrong with modern technologies and all the negative forces that threaten innovation today.
Yes, the notorious Amazon One-Click patent has finally been dealt a mortal blow and will hopefully soon no longer exist to threaten those who wish to innovate in the field of eCommerce.
Since it first rose from its dark pit in the late 1990's, the Amazon One-Click patent has served as a symbol of all that was wrong with the patent system in the United States.
Even from a purely technological standpoint, the One-Click patent was pretty weak and based on obvious techniques that had been done in earlier electronic shopping models.
But what made the One-Click patent so infamous was that it was one of the first and most egregious examples of the incredibly stupid idea that is business method patents.
To pretty much everyone it sounded like the dumbest thing in the world, even in that relatively early time for the Web. People would say, "Wait a second, they patented clicking once to buy something? Isn't that like patenting service with a smile or getting a pizza for free if it isn't delivered in thirty minutes?"
And of course the answer to these questions is, yes, it is exactly like patenting getting a pizza for free if it isn't delivered in thirty minutes (come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if someone has tried to patent that).
This has always been the thing that makes the One-Click patent so annoying. There are enough problems with bad patents based on purely technological ideas and methods. Once the door was open to patenting ways to do business, it opened the floodgates to a whole host of stupid and damaging patent claims.
For nearly ten years now the Amazon One-Click patent has been out there, serving as a perfect example of bad patents. But two widely different forces recently combined to bring the One-Click patent to the brink of oblivion.
The most unlikely foe of the One-Click patent was someone who had a little experience with the forces of evil. New Zealander Peter Calveley served in the dark armies of Morder when he worked as an extra in the Lord of the Rings films. Calveley is the person who launched the effort to get the Patent Office to look into the validity of the One-Click Patent.
Then, earlier this year, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that changed the way that patents could be deemed obvious, making it much easier to reject patents based on ideas that were clearly obvious and had plenty of prior art to show that the idea was obvious.
So thanks to this unlikely collaboration between the most powerful court in the land and a one-time Orc, the great evil that is the Amazon One-Click patent has finally taken a mortal blow. In a ruling this month an examiner with the US Patent Office rejected the claims of the One-Click patent. While Amazon has at least one more route for appeal, it looks as if the One-Click patent has finally seen its last days.
Bye, bye, Amazon One-Click patent. I guess we won't have you to kick around anymore. And that's just fine by me