Munich, 14 January 2013 -- For Tuesday the European Patent Office (EPO) scheduled a hearing on the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure's (FFII) opposition to the legendary "one-click gift order" patent from online retailer Amazon.com Inc.
In 2004 the FFII e.V. filed an opposition to Amazon.com's "one-click gift order" patent grant.
FFII board member Stephan Uhlmann: "Software patents hinder innovation and our digital economy as whole. We took on a show case of a software patent while European officials told us software patents were not existent."
Three years later the EPO revoked the patent because of non-inventiveness. After Amazon appealed the decision in 2008, the EPO restored its validity and remitted the case to the first instance. Tomorrow, more than four years later, the EPO's opposition department will once again review the case.
Uhlmann adds: "EPO opposition procedures are out of touch with market needs. Patent polluters don't pay, rather they get their way. Consider that patent protection lasts 20 years after filing, which happened in 1998. Almost 15 years later we get heard on a patent that should never have been granted in the first place. The governance of the EPO needs a deep review. The European Patent Convention leaves too many loop holes for software patenting."
The patent application dating from 1998 outlines a "method in a computer system for co-ordinating delivery of a gift from a gift giver to a recipient, the gift and recipient being specified in a gift order." In 2004 the FFII e.V. as well as the Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. and Fleurop-Interflora European Business Company AG opposed to Amazons one-click gift order patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) as EP0927945. Contrary to different reports the patent is still valid and in force in Europe. Due to the opposition by FFII et al. the patent was revoked in 2007. But Amazon appealed to this decision leading the EPO to set the revocation aside and now the case is remitted to the opposition department.
The oral proceedings will be held Tuesday 15 January 2013 9:30 a.m. at the EPO:
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, was recently quoted: "Patents are supposed to encourage innovation and we’re starting to be in a world where they might start to stifle innovation. Governments may need to look at the patent system and see if those laws need to be modified because I don’t think some of these battles are healthy for society." (source)
Chronology and background information: http://action.ffii.org/oneclick
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About the FFII
The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.