Amazon’s notorious 1999 patent on clicking once to purchase something instead of twice caused caused quite a storm of outrage a decade ago, after Amazon used it to sue Barnes & Noble at the dawn of e-commerce, right at the beginning of the 1999 Christmas shopping season, for daring to let its customers complete a purchase with a single mouse click. As Gene Callahan noted in a 2000 article critical of patent law:
Several stories recently in the news call for a fresh look at patent law. For the last few months there has, quite rightly, been great consternation throughout the software world over Amazon.com’s “one-click” patent, whereby the company has patented the idea of purchasing items with a single mouse click. James Gleick, writing in the NY Times Sunday Magazine of March 12, said: “When 21st-century historians look back at the breakdown of the United States patent system, they will see a turning point in the case of Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com and their special invention: ‘The patented One Clickr feature,’ Bezos calls it.”
In the aftermath of the backlash against this obvious “invention” that should never have received a patent, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seemed to recognize such software patents are problematic, going so far as to propose a 3–5 year term for business method and software patents, instead of the current 17 years. (An Open Letter From Jeff Bezos On The Subject Of Patents, March 2000.)
In the meantime foreign versions of the original US patent application have apparently been percolating, and the Canadian version was just allowed, meaning it will issue pretty soon as an enforceable patent in Canada. As reported by the Canadian firm Blakes:
Amazon.com’s One-Click Patent Application Allowed in Canada
KENT DANIELS, BRETT SLANEY AND ANIL BHOLE
Following the Federal Court of Appeal decision reported in our November 2011 Blakes Bulletin, in which the Amazon.com application was remanded to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) for further consideration, we have now heard that the application has been allowed and a patent will issue with method and apparatus claims.
It would seem that the CIPO will follow the guidance given in the decision and presumably not reject business method applications on the basis that they are per se not patentable. The CIPO may also need to rescind examination guidelines recently imposed.