Amazon loses one-click patent injunction

Victory for Barnes and Noble as the European Commission debates whether to follow the controversial US policy of allowing patents on software processes

Online bookseller has been denied an injunction against rival for using a process that it has controversially patented, "single-click purchasing".

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has determined that Barnes and Noble mounted a sufficient challenge to the validity of Amazon's patent claim.

Amazon's patent is controversial because it refers to a technique commonly used by many Web commerce sites rather than a specific software technique.

The Japanese patent office recently rejected Amazon's patent application. The Japanese office was able to prove that the method was obvious prior to the patent being issued and that all of the integral parts were known previously.

This landmark decision will be watched closely by the European Commission where politicians are set to decide whether to expand European patent regulations to cover such business processes, a move that is fiercely opposed by independent programmers and Internet purists.

Critics claim that allowing companies to patent business practises will stifle independent developers, while advocates claim that it will protect technological innovation.

The EC is expected to make a judgement later this month.

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