Monday, December 27, 2010

Amazon's US 7,831,439 concerning "Aunt Mildred"

One Jeffrey P. Bezos is co-inventor of US 7,831,439 , titled System and method for converting gifts , which includes the text:

An example of such a rule is shown by rule 501 in FIG. 5. Rule 501 has been given the user-assigned name of "Convert all gifts from Aunt Mildred." For example, the user may specify such a rule because the user believes that this potential sender has different tastes than the user. To create the rule 501, the user may select menu item 436 ("Specific sender") and then provide additional information as prompted by rules engine 120. For example, the user may be asked to provide complete name and address information or other information that may be used to identify the person that is the subject of the gift conversion rule. For example, if the system 100 maintains account information for users that have previously made purchases, and if the account information for each such user has an associated visitor ID, then the name and address information may be used to determine the visitor ID (or "Sender ID" in FIG. 5) of the person that is the subject of the gift conversion rule. When an order is received for a gift for the user, the rules engine 120 may then determine whether the gift is from "Aunt Mildred" (e.g., based on Sender ID) and, if it is, a gift conversion is triggered. In another exemplary embodiment, the sender may be identified at the time the gift purchase is received by the system 100 by matching the information provided by the user with the billing information provided by the sender. In an exemplary embodiment, once the gift conversion is triggered, what happens as a result of the gift conversion is also configurable. For example, this information may be stored as part of rules stored in conversion rules database 136, as described in greater detail below in connection with FIGS. 4D-4G. In the example shown in FIG. 5, the action taken by the rules engine 120 is to convert the gift from Aunt Mildred to a gift certificate.

The first claim states:

A computer-implemented data processing system comprising: a memory that stores gift conversion rules; and a processor in communication with the memory that: generates a user interface configured to permit a gift sender to order a product as a gift for a gift recipient via a network service; and executes gift conversion logic that permits the gift recipient to specify the gift conversion rules, wherein the gift conversion rules specified by the gift recipient define a manner in which gifts purchased for the gift recipient may be automatically converted, wherein at least one gift conversion rule identifies the gift sender who has ordered a product as a gift for the gift recipient, such that whether the gift is converted is determined based at least in part on the identity of the gift sender specified in the at least one gift conversion rule.

The underlying application is 11/370,772 (March 8, 2006). There does not seem to be a corresponding published US application, and indeed there was a nonpublication request filed 8 March 2006. One will not be seeing this case outside of the US. There were several examiner interviews during prosecution and an RCE.


Blogger New said...

This is such a great idea that its almost hard to believe no one else thought of it sooner. I fail to see much utility in a traditional system in which, year after year, Grandma (or, if you prefer, Aunt Mildred) purchases presents for a giftee who never wears or uses them and merely allows them to sit in storage and collect dust. I think Amazon's idea is creative and promotes efficiency, and I anticipate that the company will collect mucho from patent enforcement for the foreseeable future.

12:45 PM  

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