U.S. Patent No. 7,672,868
Creating an incentive to author useful item reviews
Assignee: Amazon.com1. A method in a computer system for evaluating a creator of item reviews, comprising:
causing the display of one or more item reviews submitted by the creator to a plurality of viewers;
Commentary: Okay, it's not quite on the level of Comiskey's arbitration method. But is it that far off? The "applying, by said computer system…" -- the only possible tying to a machine -- was added by Examiner's Amendment in a first action allowance. The Bilski elephant just sat quietly in the room. Nor was 101 raised in the parent, U.S. Patent No. 7,428,496, a pre-Bilski issuance on extremely similar claims. What was raised there, however, was a head-scratching restriction requirement, leading to the divisional filing of what became the patent at issue:
This application contains claims directed to the following patentably distinct species:
Species I: Directed toward determining an author score based on a net number of positive and negative indications received for each of the reviews submitted by the author.
Speaking of user review systems, it is interesting that Internet recommendation engine Yelp appears to have no patents or published applications to its name. Do you think it could have avoided some of its recent troubles if its approach and algorithm for reviews were "patent pending" and publicized? Perhaps that would, as the WSJ blog suggests, let Yelp "find a way for [its] sales team to more clearly express to business owners how its filtering process works." Just sayin'.
[Actually, it looks like Yelp really should know about such patents. U.S. Patent No. 7,590,562 for the somewhat-related, "Product recommendations based on collaborative filtering of user data", is assigned to Google. But the inventor is listed as Michael Stoppelman, brother of Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman. A former Google employee, Michael apparently has now joined forces with brother at Yelp.]