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5/18/2006
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Patent Office To Review Legitimacy Of Amazon's One-Click Shopping Patent

A government examiner agreed evidence provided by a New Zealand actor warrants a re-examination of the patent.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will re-examine Amazon.com's controversial patent on one-click Internet shopping.

A New Zealand actor, Peter Calveley, filed an application in February and paid a $2,545 fee to start a years-long process that could lead to the revocation of the patent.

In granting the review last week, examiner Matthew Graham says Calveley's application "raises a substantial new question of the patentability of the claims" Amazon.com made to get the patent.

Amazon won the patent in 1999 for a business process that lets shoppers buy merchandise without having to enter their billing and shipping information every time they made a purchase on the Web site.

Calveley's re-examination application cites a 1998 patent that mentions a single action to order an item. The citation could be prior art that could show the Amazon innovation wasn't new. Patents are granted only for new and nonobvious innovations.

Calveley appeared in the Lord of the Rings films. His movements were digitally recorded, then used as the basis for one of the animated characters.

This is the latest of a long line of IT-related patent re-examinations. The Patent Office is reviewing patents issued to NTP for its wireless E-mail technology. Earlier this year, BlackBerry provider Research In Motion paid $612.5 million to NTP, the holder of wireless E-mail patents that are in the process of being invalidated by the government. Similarly, the Patent Office has made a preliminary ruling to invalidate the patent of MercExchange for a business process it says online auctioneer eBay uses for its Buy-It-Now feature. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court in eBay v. MercExchange ruled that federal trial judges shouldn't automatically impose injunctions against patent infringers.

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