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EPO revokes Amazon’s “Gift Ordering” patent after opposition hearing

The so-called "Gift Order Patent" has been revoked by the EPO in an opposition proceeding today after a hearing involving three opposing parties and the patent proprietor, Amazon Inc. The patent relates to a method for purchasing goods over the Internet to be sent as gifts.

The contested patent is European Patent EP 0 927 945, granted to Amazon Inc. on 23 April 2003. This patent relates to an invention in the field of computer-implemented inventions (CII). It specifies a method by which a person can purchase a product as a gift and have it shipped based on the e-mail address of the recipient. Based on this e-mail address, the system will then contact the recipient to obtain a valid postal address for shipping. This patent is not to be confused with the “One-Click” patent application, which was withdrawn after the first EPO examination and never granted in Europe.

The parties who have lodged opposition against the patent – all of whom were represented at the hearing – are Fleurop Interflora Businesses and two non-government organisations in the IT field, namely the German Society of Information Sciences, and the Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).

One of the opposition’s main arguments against the patent – among others – was that it fell short of meeting the criteria of providing an “inventive step”, as defined in Article 56 of the European Patent Convention (EPC). On these grounds, the three opposing parties asked for the patent to be revoked.

The European Patent Office as an intergovernmental executive institution is not itself a party to this case. The EPO's Opposition Division acts as an independent arbiter and issues rulings in conformity with the European Patent Convention and the applicable international and European law.

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