It seems that one brave blogger from New Zealand, Peter Calveley hit the first nail in the coffin of 10 years old Amazon's patent called “1-Click Shopping”. It is today one of the classic examples of how broken and extremely prohibitive for small companies the United States patent system is.
As The Register writes, the smart New Zealander, who isn't even a lawyer himself, challenged the validity of this patent in USPTO. The fact that the patent doesn't represent any real innovation was quite obvious for most technically inclined WWW users for a long time. Nevertheless nobody managed to successfully challenge its sense according to USPTO's procedures. For a patent to be valid in USA, the so called prior art (an earlier example of using the same idea) must not exist. In other words, the invention must be original.
Acting in accordance with the rules, Peter Calveley found earlier examples of the techniques described in the patent as Amazon's “inventions”. He used two older patents from 1994 and 1996, which described very similar ideas, hence they couldn't have been invented by Amazon in 1997. Also, one of the Newsweek's journalists wrote an article in 1995 titled “The End of Money?”, in which he described exactly how to perform Internet shopping with one click of a button. Thanks to those examples of prior art, USPTO rejected 21 out of 26 patent claims and the status of the remaining ones is still undecided.
Let me say this to all patent trolls: rest in peace :-)