E-COMMERCE giant Amazon.com is probably grateful for brisk holiday business; and if the retailer has its way, gift delivery will always be a happy occasion.
In a patent application filing that came to light last week, Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and Chief Technology Officer Shel Kaphan are trying to corner the market on "coordinating the delivery of a gift."
The patent application appears to cover the simple process of sending someone an e-mail or contacting a consumer via phone to inform them they haven't provided sufficient shipping information.
"The present invention coordinates the delivery of a gift given by a gift giver . . . when the gift giver did not provide sufficient delivery information," the patent application says. "The invention can therefore coordinate the delivery of a gift whose order specifies insufficient delivery information, or even no delivery information, for the recipient."
Bezos and Kaphan are named as inventors of the "technology," but Amazon.com is never named in the application.
While the patent application is aimed mainly at shoppers who do not provide all the relevant delivery information, the patent could also apply to the "wish list" concept, in which consumers complete shopping lists in the hope that other people will buy the products as gifts.
A spokesperson for Amazon.com said the lawyer familiar with the patent application will be out of the country until next week. Spokespeople for leading Amazon.com competitors Overstock.com and Barnes&Noble.com had no comment.
Barnes&Noble.com waged a fierce two-year battle against Amazon.com over the Seattle firm's patented "1-click" technology, which allowed companies to store information so consumers could make purchases without filling out various information pages. The two companies reached an undisclosed settlement earlier this year.
Patent pending or not, Amazon.com had a good week last week. The company relaunched Bertelsmann-owned CDNow.com as an Amazon-powered storefront.
This meant the end of CDNow's affiliate program, whereby Web sites earned money by selling products via CDNow. Amazon.com offered CDNow affiliates incentives to join its network. Bertelsmann-backed Barnes&Noble.com also rushed out an e-mail attempting to lure CDNow affiliates over to its program.
Amid further dot-com consolidation, the affiliate business appears to be shrinking. Last week Xerox told affiliates it will terminate its eBusiness Partner Program, effective Dec. 31.
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