Amazon has been granted a patent by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) for a system of delivering digital items to another person as a gift. Shockingly, no one had yet patented this idea.
Wait, wait, wait, is this right? Did Amazon just patent every future Christmas, Hanukkah, birthday, wedding, insert-gift-giving-celebration-here?
Well, no. But they have received a patent on one of the most common forms of gift-giving in the world today, namely a system for selecting a digital gift (read: movie, music, eBook, etc.), sending a notification to the recipient, and allowing the recipient to download the gift.
There’s a twist to the patent, however. It also describes the ability for the gift-giver to delay payment for the item until the digital gift has been accepted. If the gift hasn’t been accepted and downloaded by a specific time, the order can be cancelled and no payment will be made by the gift-giver.
The rest of the patent describes ideas that are fairly common to most people who have used the Internet over the past four years or so. Granted, Amazon applied for the patent back in 2008, and at the time it would have been a fairly innovative idea, but today it seems like a fairly obvious idea.
Broad patents such as this have been a rallying cry against the United States patent system, especially with the massive adoption of the idea by the tech industry.
At the moment, Amazon has not implemented the delayed payment model for its digital gifts yet, but it will be interesting to see if, now that the patent has gone through, Amazon adds the delayed payment feature to its Kindle and Amazon Video stores. It would be a welcome addition to a wildly popular service.