Amazon stripped of gift ordering patent

The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked an Amazon patent on a gift ordering system.

Amazon had been granted a European patent for its invention, but this was opposed by an Interflora company, the German Society of Information Sciences and the Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure.

The EPO has ruled on the opposition and has found that the patent should not stand. "One of the opposition’s main arguments against the patent – among others – was that it fell short of meeting the criteria of providing an 'inventive step', as defined in Article 56 of the European Patent Convention (EPC)," said an EPO statement. "On these grounds, the three opposing parties asked for the patent to be revoked."

Amazon was recently forced to narrow a US patent for its shopping system, known as the 'one click' patent. This covered the ability of shoppers to purchase items with just one mouse click and it was opposed by an amateur patent enthusiast in New Zealand who raise the funds for the action from readers of his blog.

Peter Calveley objected to the patent and filed a re-examination request, citing examples he had found of 'prior art', which is the term for evidence that a claimed invention was not in fact new. He had found examples of similar systems that predated Amazon's patent.

The US Patent and Trademarks Office then rejected most of the patent's claims. The EPO decision is a further blow to Amazon.

The newly rejected patent covered a system which allows a customer to buy a gift for a person giving just that person's email address. Amazon then emails the gift recipient for details of a physical address.

The EPO pointed out in a statement that it had never granted the 'one click' patent, which it said was withdrawn after its first examination.