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sendmail.net: Q&A: Bruce Perens on Patents and Politics

Feb 15, 2000, 20:20 (1 Talkback[s])

"You've talked a lot about patents in information technology. IT patents come in many flavors: software patents, device patents, business methodology patents like the one that provoked Richard Stallman's call for a boycott of Amazon.com. To what extent do you differentiate among them?

Well, the business systems patents are simply absurd. We have merchants out there who've just started doing on the Internet what's been done by phone for 20 years and think they should get a patent out of it. There isn't enough change in the art. I've dealt with mail order companies that had my address already - I'd just tell them my name and they'd take care of the rest. That's pretty close to one click - 'one dial,' I guess you'd call it. Those patents are obviously silly.

So you'd put Amazon's patent in the 'silly' category?

I would. First of all, their whole 'invention' is based on cookies. When cookies were invented, it was implicit in the very concept that you'd store and retrieve this kind of information. ..."

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