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Wired: BountyQuest: Cashing In on Bogus Patents

Oct 20, 2000, 19:35 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Craig Bicknell)

"Last February, publisher Tim O'Reilly lambasted Amazon's controversial 1-Click Shopping patent as a blatant example of the sort of overly broad, ill-considered patent that could ultimately stifle innovation on the Web. ... O'Reilly subsequently posted a nasty open letter to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos -- replete with the electronic "signatures" of 10,000 angry Net users -- demanding that Bezos renounce his new patent. Bezos didn't."

"But on Wednesday, O'Reilly and Bezos officially went into business together -- the patent-reform business, no less. The erstwhile adversaries are jointly funding a new site called BountyQuest, which will, among other things, pay big cash rewards to people who dig up "prior art" -- pre-existing technology -- that helps debunk controversial patents."

"One of the first bounties, offered by O'Reilly himself: $10,000 to anyone who can find prior art that torpedoes Amazon's cherished 1-Click claim. "Jeff is aware of the bounty and is supportive of the idea," said O'Reilly. "If he believes in the patent, and if he's an honest guy -- as I think he is -- then he wants to be sure it's a good patent."

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