<rant>This is absurd… I have gone from shock to disbelief. Surely there is prior art. This is such a common UI device – software developers have been using it for years. How such a generic UI approach can be patented just because it’s on the net is beyond me.
This has the potential to impact many website and application developers, including me. The US patent office needs it’s head read with regards to software patents imnsho. And the EU needs to ensure that whatever legislation they put in place ensures that a true and thorough review is done of existing technologies before a patent is granted. Otherwise this industry is going to be in dire trouble in a few years time.
Patents, contrary to the standard free-market line, /do not/ enable innovation – they stifle it. And when the system doesn’t have appropriate checks and balances in place, and the current system obviously does not, it is open to the sorts of abuses that Amazon are taking advantage of. Not once, but twice. And Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, also has a frivilous patent application to his own name.
It seems if you’ve got the money to apply for the patents, you’ve got a good chance of getting them granted, no matter the validity of the claim.</rant>