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Saturday, 04 October 2008 16:45

Amazon gets patent for giving reviewers a badge

File this one under: they have patented what now? The official title of US Patent 7,428,496 is 'Creating an incentive to author useful item reviews' but the reality is that is concerns giving busy reviewers on the Amazon website a silly virtual badge of honour...

Not long ago I was reporting on how Microsoft had been granted US Patent 7,415,666 which was for the "Method and system for navigating paginated content in page-based increments" or the Page Up Page Down Patent as it has become known.

Now, just 12,830 patents later comes another example of just how crazy the whole system is when companies start 'protecting' just about anything.

Let's examine the abstract for this particular Amazon patent shall we?

"A facility for rewarding the provision of useful item reviews is described. The facility receives a plurality of item reviews, each from a source. The facility publishes each of the plurality of received item reviews, and assesses the usefulness of the published item reviews."

OK, so it is for a system of calculating how useful reviews written by a registered user of Amazon are based upon the thumbs up thumbs down voting of other members, and applies this across all the reviews they have written to arrive at some kind of 'top reviewer' chart.

The abstract concludes with "Based upon this assessment of usefulness, the facility selects one or more of the published item reviews, and provides rewards to the sources of these selected item reviews."

The reward in question turns out to be, are you ready for this, a virtual badge of honour no less.

Despite the fact that Amazon filed the original patent application way back in April 2001 it has only just now been granted. Which suggests a certain amount of investigation by the USPO.

The fact that other sites have review rewards programs does not seem to have mattered, as this patent would appear to apply only to the precise mathematical formula used to calculate the rewards process on Amazon.

I still cannot help think that it is just another example of how the whole patent process has gone so astray over the years, and provides more evidence that it needs a damn good kick up the arse to get back on a sensible track!


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