09 February 2011

Divisional Application of Amazon's One-Click EP Patent Dismissed in Appeal (T 1244/07)

Amazon's European "one-click" (parent) patent EP 0 927 945 has been revoked in Opposition proceedings due to new matter and lack of inventive step. In the subsequent appeal before the EPO Appeal Board 3.5.01 under experienced Chairman S. Wibergh, this decision was set aside and the case was remitted back to the first instance Opposition Division for examining the third auxiliary request (T 1616/08). Further information on the status of Amazon's one-click patents and the appeal decision T 1616/08 may be obtained here and here.

But there also exists the divisional application EP 1 134 680, which has been rejected by the Examining Division and was appealed as well (T 1244/07). The oral appeal proceedings took place on 27 January 2011. According to the minutes, the same Board decided to dismiss the appeal. Apart from the extraordinary option to file a Petition for Review under Art. 112 (a) EPC, the one-click divisional application should now be dead and gone. The lenghty and quite detailled main claim discussed was that of auxiliary request 1A, filed during oral proceedings (underlining identifies features limiting auxiliary request 1), reading: 
A method for ordering an item using a clienet system, the method comprising:
  • receiving from a server system a client identifier of the client system when the client system first interacts with a server system, said client identifier being a globally unique identifier,
  • persistently storing the client identifier at the client system, when the client identifier is from then on included in messages sent from the client system to the server system and retrieved by the server system each time a message with an identifier is received from the client system by the server system;
  • storing at the server system for that client and other clients a customer table containing a mapping from each client identifier identifying a client system to a purchaser last associated to said client system;
  • storing at the server system customer information for various purchasers or potential purchasers, said customer information containing purchaser-specific order information, including sensitive information related to the purchaser, said sensitive information comprising payment information,
  • connecting at a later point in time, when a purchase is intended, the client system to the server system, comprising the steps of:
  • sending from the client system a request for information describing an item to be ordered along with the client identifier;
  • determining at the server system whether single-action ordering is enabled for that purchaser;
  • if enabled sending from the server system the requested information to the client system along with an indication to perform a single action to place the order for the item;
  • displaying at the client system information identifying the item and displaying an indication of a single action that is to be performed to order the identified item;
  • performing at the client system that single action and in response to that indicated single action being performed, sending the server a single action order to order the identified item and automatically sending the client identifier, said received client identifier together with the mapping contained in the customer table allowing the server to correctly recognize the purchaser, avoiding that said purchaser does need to input identification information or sensitive information to be transmitted via the internet during the said ordering process of the item; and
  • completing at the server system the order by adding the purchaser-specific order information including said sensitive information that is mapped to the client identifier received from the client system.
According to the summons, the Appeal Board preliminarily agreed with the Examination Division that the features of auxiliary request 1 are either not novel or not technical. For the Board's assessment of the (underlined) further limitations of auxiliary request 1A we have to wait for the publication of decision T 1244/07, which I hope to be able to report on in due course.

As compared to that claim, the main claim to be examined by the Opposition Division in the parent application EP 0 927 945 reads:
A method in a client computer system for ordering a gift for delivery from a gift giver to a recipient, the method comprising:
  • receiving from a server system a client identifier of the client system;
  • persistently storing the client identifier at the client system;
  • displaying information identifying an item and displaying an indication of a single action that is to be performed to order the identified item;
  • selecting by the gift giver the displayed item on a website during a browser session by the indicated single action and sending to a server system the single action order to order the identified item and automatically sending the client identifier whereby the gift giver does not input identification information when ordering the item; wherein said single action results in buying the item as a gift,
  • receiving (1401, 1404) from the gift giver an indication that the gift is to be delivered to the recipient and an electronic mail address of the recipient; and 
  • sending (1409) to a gift delivery computer system an indication of the gift and the received electronic mail address, wherein the gift delivery computer system coordinates delivery of the gift by:
  • sending (1501b) an electronic mail message addressed to the electronic mail address of the recipient, the electronic mail address [sic, obviously "mail message" is intended] requesting that the recipient provide delivery information including a postal address for the gift; and
  • upon receiving the delivery information, electronically initiating (1701-1708) delivery of the gift in accordance with the received delivery information, wherein when the recipient does respond to the electronic mail message, the delivery information is automatically extracted from the electronic mail message [sic, obviously "from the recipient's reply message" is intended].