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Amazon Patents, Prior Art, and my 404 Search

Amazon recently received a patent for "including a search string at the end of a URL without any special formatting."

Gee, I've been doing that on my blog since 2003. I've called it my "404 Search" because I use it to cause a search via the 404 scripts. I've even ported my search from MovableType to WordPress.

The filing date of the Amazon patent is March, 2004. The first item on my blog with this technology is from over a year prior - February, 2003. And it was based on php.net's capabilities.

Does the U.S. Patent office actually study patent applications or did they just run out of "Rejected" stamps a long time ago?

4 Responses to "Amazon Patents, Prior Art, and my 404 Search"

  1. It reminds me of a comic I used to display on my office door. It went something like "Two geeks are delivering the 2001 monolith to a location that sorely needs it." It shows a bomber carrying said monolith to the U.S. Patent office, with the pilot saying "Bombs away," IIRC.

    I can't remember where I saw it, though.

  2. I've been doing exactly the same thing for years. I maintain a web link database using phpHoo2, and I wrote a 404 search for it - that way I can just type part of a URL name or title, and it does a search for me. If only one result is found, it uses a meta-redirect to send me to that site.

    This is patentable??

  3. Not quite, Eric, though your example was actually the first thing I thought of when I saw this on Reddit today. If you read the claims, the patent requires that the system decides whether or not to do a search based on the presence of a certain string after the domain. More specifically, it defaults to the search, and only does a normal URL lookup when the string is there. Compare:

    http://a9.com/company
    http://a9.com/-/company/

    For a system to read on the claims, it has to mimic that behavior exactly. Policy prevents me from commenting on the validity of this patent (i.e., whether the differences between systems like yours and this one are "obvious"), but I just wanted to point out this distinction.

  4. Examiner said on October 23, 2007:

    Not quite, Eric, though your example was actually the first thing I thought of when I saw this on Reddit today. If you read the claims, the patent requires that the system decides whether or not to do a search based on the presence of a certain string after the domain.

    I think you're taking it a bit more seriously than I am. šŸ™‚


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