Amazon.com has been granted three detailed patents covering purchase circles, consumer reviews, and search results in the form of products from multiple product categories.
It's a sweeping landgrab which puts e-commerce rivals on the alert. The techniques granted to Amazon.com by the patent office are already ubiquitous on commercial and social networking web sites.
Patent 6,963,848 filed March 2, 2000 and granted November 8, covers "Methods and system of obtaining consumer reviews".
Patent 6,963,867, filed on March 31, 2003, covers "Search query processing to provide category-ranked presentation of search results".
Patent 6,963,850, filed on August 19, 1999 covers "Computer services for assisting users in locating and evaluating items in an electronic catalog based on actions performed by members of specific user communities".
Communities may be "based on user hobbies, localities, professions, and organizations," for example. "The system automatically identifies and generates lists of the most popular items (and/or items that are becoming popular) within particular communities, and makes such information available to users for viewing.
The patent credits Jeff Bezos, amongst others, as the inventor. But as TheoDP, Amazon-watcher and collector of patent absurdities reminds us, Bezos used to deny that he ever would patent such things.
Responding to a question by The Guardian's Stuart Jeffries in October 2002 about Amazon's notorious One Click Patent, Bezos replied"that Amazon has made numerous innovations in web commerce that have been widely copied which it didn't patent, such as virtual shopping baskets, sales rankings and customer reviews."
Now it has all the base(s) covered.
So if Web 2.0 is a rain forest, as one pundit rather painfully argues, as opposed to the "desert" of Web 1.0, we now all huddle under the umbrella of its endless green canopy of patents.
Or something like that. ®