Amazon.com Boycott

Books, patents, business and intellectual property are all intertwined at Amazon.com. There is now a growing boycott of Amazon.com. The boycott is a result of the company\'s legal pursuit of patent right infringement for a patent many people say should not have been granted because the idea was neither unique nor new. Should libraries support the boycott? Read on…
Books, patents, business and intellectual property are all intertwined at Amazon.com. There is now a growing boycott of Amazon.com. The boycott is a result of the company\'s legal pursuit of patent right infringement for a patent many people say should not have been granted because the idea was neither unique nor new.

Amazon.com was awarded a patent for a \"method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network\", otherwise known as \"1 - click shopping\". The method employs a \"cookie\", a small text file for sharing information between client and server machines. Many programmers contend that the use of cookies is old hat.

Upon receipt of the patent, Amazon.com sued Barns and Noble for using the method of 1 click shopping. A Seattle court judge issued a preliminary order against B&N and the service is presently unavailable at their Web site.

More recently, the US Patent Office granted Amazon.com a patent for its affiliate program. The affiliate program allows persons to receive a cut of Amazon\'s sales when a purchaser connects to Amazon from a link on the affiliate\'s web site. Critics say that this is not a novel idea.

The award of these two patents, and Amazon\'s subsequent action on the one, has prompted outrage and a boycott of the company. Tim O\'reilly, publisher of O\'reilly Books and a big seller on Amazon.com, publicly came out just short of endorsing the boycott. Instead, he rebuked Amazon.com and is asking people to sign an open letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, which asks that he \"clarify your intentions with regard to software patents, and avoid any attempts to limit the further development of internet commerce on the basis of the patents you have already been awarded.\" In less than a week the letter has garnered over a thousand signatures.

The real problem is the US Patent Office, which has been criticized for some time for not being qualified to deal with the complexities of software. Of greater concern is the issue of patenting intellectual property in general.

The issue and question here is: should libraries support the Amazon.com boycott ?

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