Thursday, February 16, 2006

Paddling the Amazon

Peter Calveley wants to give a patent spanking. Annoyed when it failed to ship him a book, he launched a one-man crusade to have the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office re-examine, and ultimately narrow,'s infamous "one-click" patent. Fittingly for a New Zealander, Peter described his motivation as "utu," a Maori word meaning "vengeance or retribution." Lesson: Don't mess with a Kiwi.

Despite his burning motivation, Peter lacked the U.S. $2,520 required for filing a reexamination. He called for help, though, and people started donating to the cause. Recently he announced that he'd raised enough money to proceed. He expects a decision from the PTO in about three months about whether it will reexamine the patent. In the meantime, he remains on the look-out for relevant prior art.

We cannot count on the likes of Peter to save us from all bad patents, alas. There just aren't enough pissed-off and quixotic activists to go around. It gives us all the more reason to appreciate Peter's unique approach to customer relations. Wonder what this mysterious hero of the public domain looks like? The best I can offer you is a link to Andy Lambert's clever ad for Nokia (click on the bottom right-hand picture), in which Peter evidently played a clown. I don't think anyone should take that as a comment on his legal quest, however.

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