MONTREAL — Internet retailer Amazon.com has won a fight to patent its online payment system in Canada that allows shoppers to make purchases with one click of their computer mouse.
The Federal Court decision closes a chapter in Amazon’s fight to protect what it calls its “one-click” technology from possible illegal use in Canada.
“The Patent Act is not static; it must be applied in ways that recognize changes in technology such as the move from the Industrial Age to the electronic one of today,” Justice Michael Phelan wrote in a decision released Thursday.
The court overturned a decision by Canada’s patent office, which didn’t allow Amazon’s “one-click” payment method to be patented.
While the decision doesn’t affect shoppers, it means the Commissioner of Patents will have to take a second look at Amazon’s patent application.
If approved, the patent will protect its “one-click” concept so that it can’t be used by competitors unless they license it from Amazon.
Amazon could not be immediately reached for comment.
Patent expert Alexander Poltorak said Amazon wants to protect its market share.
“The way you protect your market share is by patenting whatever aspect of technology that you develop and preventing competitors from emulating this,” said Poltorak, chairman and CEO of U.S.-based General Patent Corp.
In the United States, Amazon.com settled a patent infringement suit against competitor Barnes & Noble.com over its checkout system in 2002.
“They want to make the shopping experience on Amazon different than the shopping experience on Barnes & Noble or any other online bookstore,” Poltorak said from New York.
Amazon’s payment system keeps a user’s billing information and credit card information on file, allowing a “one-click” purchase.
Patent disputes, which are common in the tech world, can last for years and take millions of dollars to resolve.
The court ruled that Amazon’s payment system is a “business method” and is patentable in Canada, and sent the issue back to the Commissioner of Patents for another look.
“There is no basis for the commissioner’s assumption that there is a tradition of excluding business methods from patentability in Canada,” Phelan wrote.
Patent lawyer Victor Krichker said he believes the patent will get approval in Canada and it signals to technology companies that some of the barriers to getting patents in Canada have been removed.
“It puts our standards for patentable subject matter roughly on the same footing as in the U.S.,” said Krichker, partner and head of the high technology practice at Bereskin and Parr in Toronto.
“I think the judge took the patent office to task for essentially overstepping its function, which is to make decisions based on established law and not essentially to make new law,” he said.