When Amazon.com patented 1-Click Shopping, publisher Tim O’Reilly criticized Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and called 1-Click a parody that represented the sort of wrong-headed patents that could seriously hurt the Web. Now, however, Bezos and O’Reilly have partnered on an organization and site, BountyQuest, that will offer substantial cash prizes to anyone who brings examples of “prior art” that can be used to nullify misguided patent awards. Among the first announced patent targets is Amazon’s 1-Click.
In related news, the European Commission has started the process of unifying European patent law governing software inventions. Though programs cannot now be patented in Europe, inventions that use programs can. According to the EC announcement, the primary considerations that will be held in the process are the effects that any patent policy would have on innovation and competition, European businesses, e-commerce, and open-source software.