I was talking to my husband the other night about the concern over Amazon seeking a patent for an online system to sell used ebooks.
I had no further finished telling him about this that he actually started laughing at me. “I don’t know why anyone is worried about that. It would be like Barnes & Noble setting up a section in their bookstore to sell the same books–that look as if they’re brand spanking new–for a tenth of the price.”
Well, why would Amazon be seeking such a patent? He had a ready answer. “Just so they can stop other companies from doing it.” And that actually made a lot of sense. I mean, if Amazon owns the patent on it, they could conceivably stop others from trying to do it, ensuring there is no market for used ebooks.
Now, I don’t believe the patent and trademark office likes giving out patents for technology for the sole purposes of keeping others from using the technology. So, Amazon has been mum on why they’re seeking the patent. And I also don’t know enough about patent law to know how much of the patent is actual mechanics vs. general idea. As all us writers know, copyrights cover the expression of an idea, not an idea itself.
But seeking a patent as a preventive measure is certainly an intriguing idea. And it’s not one just floated by my hubby. Wired Magazine suggests this approach, too.
I do hope it is an attempt to stop others from selling used ebooks, because I agree with critics of the swap-meet model of ebook sales: if used ebooks are available for a penny, no one is guying to buy new ebooks.