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OpenTV Looks to Lay Claim to 1-Click Trick

OpenTV Thursday said it recently filed an application to broaden the scope of one of its patents to include "one-click," or single interaction shopping -- a technology popularized by Amazon.com Inc.

OpenTV, who filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Sept. 27, said in a statement Thursday that its own U.S. patent 5,819,034, "describes single interaction shopping in client/server and interactive television environments."

Those who proceed to the patent will note that the assignee is listed as one Thomson Consumer Electronics, Inc. This is not a different firm, but rather one of the many monikers the company employed before completing its evolution as OpenTV, said Craig P. Opperman, OpenTV's chief intellectual property officer.

OpenTV aims to use the convenient one-click method, which stores billing information so that returning customers need not re-enter information, for television commerce. Its business strategy is to target the impulsive home shopper.

"When you go onto an Internet site and it has one-click capability, that is a nice convenience," said James Ackerman, OpenTV's president and chief operations officer. "But when you're watching TV an you see an opportunity to make a purchase of something and all you have to do is press one button, that is going to transform impulse-purchasing through television."

OpenTV said it can lay claim to the technology because its patent filing predates Amazon.com's patent by three years.

Because of the 1994 filing date and the publication of the European equivalent patent application, Amazon could be precluded from using its patent against anyone practicing what exists in our patent, said Opperman.

But Ackerman told InternetNewsRadio.com Thursday that OpenTV is in no way attacking Amazon.com's right to the patent.

"What we are wanting to establish is that we have a right to use one-click and that we have a right to license this one-click patent to other users as well as we see fit and that is a business strategy we will be developing immediately," Ackerman said.

Because OpenTV's intentions are to restrict one-click use over digital TV, the firm would most likely not challenge Amazon.com's use of the technology. However, rivals such as Liberate Technologies Inc. and France's Canal Plus Technologies, could catch OpenTV's attention if they employ similar technology in their forays into digital television.

Opperman stressed that the patent protects its customers -- cable operators and such, who will offer the technology to their clients -- home users.

Amazon.com spokesperson Patty Smith issued a statement to InternetNews.com Thursday, claiming the two patents should not interfere with each other.

"The technology in OpenTV's patent depends upon use of a proprietary continuous repetitive transmission of data and computer code to the purchasers' computer or television set-top box," Smith said. "Such a system is useful, as OpenTV's press release notes, to facilitate television commerce. In contrast, Amazon.com's 1-Click® technology can be used with standard Internet and World Wide Web protocols, so any purchaser with a standard Web browser and any merchant employing standard Web server software can take advantage of 1-Click ordering."

Amazon caused a minor furor in the industry when it sued chief rival Barnes & Noble.com and blocked the firm from using its "1-Click" technology in December 1999.

In a shrewd move, Amazon.com then turned around an