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O'Reilly Argues Against Amazon Patents

Tim O'Reilly responded to Amazon.com's 1-Click and Associates Program patents in his Ask Tim column.

O'Reilly, the chief of Web design software maker O'Reilly & Associates, believes that the patent is not only bad for the Internet, but bad for Amazon itself.

"In the first place, this patent should never have been allowed. It's a completely trivial application of cookies, a technology that was introduced several years before Amazon filed for their patent...To characterize '1-Click' as an 'invention' is a parody. Like so many software patents, it is a land grab, an attempt to hoodwink a patent system that has not gotten up to speed on the state of the art in computer science," he said.

O'Reilly continues, "...a patent on something like '1-Click ordering' is a slap in the face of Tim Berners-Lee and all of the other pioneers who created the opportunity that Amazon has done such a good job of exploiting...Patents like this are also incredibly short-sighted! The Web has exploded because it was an open platform that sparked countless innovations by users. Fence in that platform, and who knows what opportunities will never come to light?"

Implications of the Amazon patents have far reaching effects. They also got a patent for their Associates (affiliate) program, "...the situation has gotten worse, since the patent office has also granted Amazon a patent on their Associates program. They haven't yet tried to enforce this patent against their competitors, but if what they've done with 1-Click is any sign of their intentions, I imagine that it's only a matter of time unless their customers and suppliers speak out about their reckless behavior."

In an e-mail to Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos, O'Reilly plays hardball, telling Bezos essentially that he's dirtying the water of the Web.

"In short, I think you're pissing in the well. Patents such as yours are the first step in vitiating the web, in raising the barriers to entry not just for your competitors, but for the technological innovators who might otherwise come up with great new ideas that you could put to use in your own business.

For the complete coverage of O'Reilly's response, visit O'Reilly's Ask Tim page.