Jeff Bezos : Inventor
February 26, 2003 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Jeff Bezos has patented the idea for "A method and system for conducting an electronic discussion relating to a topic." Clearly, an idea way ahead of its time... (via somebodydial911)
posted by bluno (14 comments total)
I have nothing to say on this topic, I don't want to take any chances.
posted by Blake at 12:17 PM on February 26, 2003

Anybody posting responses to this thread will be automatically forwarded a threatening-sounding letter from's legal staff.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:19 PM on February 26, 2003

What is claimed is:

1. A method in a computer system of a non-participant for starting a discussion relating to an item offered for sale, the method including:

providing information describing a plurality of items being offered for sale;

receiving from an originating participant a selection of one of the items being offered for sale;

It looks like an ebayish thing more than a metafilterish one.
posted by signal at 12:29 PM on February 26, 2003

Well that's a load off my mind!
posted by UnReality at 12:38 PM on February 26, 2003

will be automatically forwarded a threatening-sounding letter from's legal staff.

as long as they ship the books I've just ordered, I'm cool with their patent thing
posted by matteo at 12:40 PM on February 26, 2003

Well, first off the quote in the front page post is from the abstract. The abstract describes generically the invention, but it's not what is patented.

What's patented here is a method of generating discussion about an "item being offered for sale." (See claim 1). So, that claim wouldn't, at first glance, cover this discussion.

What this really seems to be aimed at are those little blurbs you see on amazon (and other sites, like, for example) that have a link to an item for sale, then an opportunity to participate in a discussion about that itme.

Could it cover some of the metafilter discussions about items that happen to be on sale? That's a tougher question . . . Take another look at that link - it's to the USPTO website where you can, you guessed it, buy an item being offered for sale. Namely, a copy of the amazon patent.
posted by lawtalkinguy at 12:42 PM on February 26, 2003

Well, he's covering his bases, and an Ebay concept doesn't seem all that he's trying to claim as his invention:

"From the foregoing it will be appreciated that, although specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention."

This sounds like a listserv: "For example, the discussion system may provide a capability to ensure anonymity of the participants. Each user may have a pseudonym that is mapped to their email address. Users may know of other users by these pseudonyms. To support such anonymity, the discussion system would need to use an internal message management facility or, if it uses an external message management facility, it would need to receive each message of a discussion from a replying participant and forward the received message to the other participants."

A micropayment has been made to the The Bezos Internet, Inc.
posted by ?! at 12:49 PM on February 26, 2003

Not that anyone should bother to explain it to me... but honestly, I don't get it.
posted by Witty at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2003

Wanna buy a camera?
posted by languagehat at 1:04 PM on February 26, 2003

death by patent, that's what it's gonna say on the internet's headstone, yep.
posted by t r a c y at 1:51 PM on February 26, 2003

It might also be applied as a web based realtime chat discussion as amazon customers log in using an email address as userid.
posted by yonderboy at 5:49 PM on February 26, 2003

And here are some economists with their take on the effect this will have on the markets
posted by srboisvert at 7:27 PM on February 26, 2003

languagehat: looks like you found some prior use there.
posted by walrus at 1:41 AM on February 27, 2003

The Amazon patent, and several related topics, are discussed in an article in this weeks Linux Weekly News [note: subscription until 3/6] which links to this Forbes piece which tells a very [un-]amusing story about an IBM vs. Sun patent war.

This is a much more important topic than it seems like, even if you don't personally care if Linux Dominates the World...
posted by baylink at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2003

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