Amazon patent blocks consumers from comparing prices online while inside a store



Consumers shopping for books at Barnes and Noble often use their phones or tablets to do a bit of comparison shopping by calling up Amazon's website. There is no telling how much business Amazon has generated this way. Ironically, Amazon has recently received a patent for an algorithm making it harder for shoppers to check out competitors' pricing online while at an Amazon owned retail store.

The patent makes it more difficult for a shopper hooked up to the store's Wi-Fi network to visit the website belonging to an Amazon competitor. The Physical Store Online Shopping Control patent analyzes the websites being visited by a particular shopper. If the algorithm determines that the website belonging to a competitor is going to be accessed, it redirects the customer to Amazon's own site, or to other sites approved by Amazon. The customer might even receive an Amazon coupon on his phone, or get approached by an Amazon sales rep trying to persuade the customer to make his purchase right on the spot.

Amazon now owns six physical bookstores, and will soon own 465 Whole Foods markets. Amazon's patent will prevent customers inside these stores from doing any comparison shopping that might save them money, but at the expense of Amazon's profits. Funny what happens when the shoe is on the other foot.

source: USPTO via WashingtonPost

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27 Comments

1. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

And here we go. Amazon is becoming too greedy.

35. PrYmCHGOan

Posts: 335; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Yet you know who....isnt?

2. AJtheAndroid

Posts: 42; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

What if I'm on cellular data as opposed to store hosted WiFi?

3. DrakenFX

Posts: 19; Member since: Feb 05, 2016

If you are using data (carrier) as long you block location request , I believe we are going to be fine

38. combatmedic870

Posts: 986; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

@#3 Incorrect, they would not be able to control cellular data. Just their own wifi. It's being their own wifi is the only way it's possible. Location request or not. They pay for the wifi, so they can choose what you are allowed to access.

4. PrYmCHGOan

Posts: 335; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

This would never fly in Europe. Onlt in Murica!

12. hatersgonnahate

Posts: 10; Member since: Jan 24, 2015

Land of freedom f*ck yeah

36. PrYmCHGOan

Posts: 335; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

And the brave!

5. Greenmule

Posts: 130; Member since: Apr 24, 2017

The funniest thing of all is that Jeff Bezos owns all three: amazon, Whole Foods *and* the Washington Post. More control by the .01%

6. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Really anti-competitive. Besides, how could something this simple be patented? Let alone the companies, even some wannabe tech guy can do this. Once again, patent law benifiting only rich and powerful.

9. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

I think they wont use it.. they just want to prevent other companies from doing it..

13. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

@ibend, That might be right. Good thinking!

31. lyndon420

Posts: 6868; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Honestly what's stopping other companies from actually doing this...patent or not? Imagine being in a competitor's bookstore and not being able to search Amazon's prices...what do you think Amazon would do about it? If you're connected to a particular company's wifi network we have no choice but to abide by whatever their terms are. Now if you are on your own mobile network it would be very unlawful for them in my opinion to dictate/hijack your phone in such a way...regardless of whether you have location sharing enabled or not.

7. Bozzor

Posts: 248; Member since: May 02, 2012

It's only via WiFi, and just because they patented it does not mean they will run with it.

8. talon95

Posts: 1002; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

This is actually excellent for consumers. And here is my logic. Amazon will never use this technology, they simply don't want some third party to use it in such a way that a whole bunch of big box retailers create a popular search app that limits access to Amazon price results. Does the Walmart app let you scan Walmart items and do anything other than provide Walmart results? This patent has almost no use case. Target will never license a patent to block you from search Target price while at Walmart. I have to believe Amazon simply wants to prevent this technology from being developed and used by Google and Apple who could charge retailers for the privilege of not providing results that undercut their prices. It would be a new form of Google revenue, "paid result blocking".

11. surethom

Posts: 1729; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

I'm sorry but America's patent office is s**t they will let u patent anything. This would be laughed at in the UK & Europe Patent office.

15. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

Nah, in Europe is simple. Give them money and they will pass anything.

17. robwilk

Posts: 2; Member since: May 20, 2017

"Shopping for books at Borders?" What? Haven't they been out of business for like a decade or more..

21. simplyj

Posts: 406; Member since: Dec 23, 2009

"Consumers shopping for books at Borders " Is this article from 2010?

24. joevsyou

Posts: 1093; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

If they actually do this, that will be the biggest F You, Of course, many companies patent tons and tons of stuff without ever using it. \

25. joevsyou

Posts: 1093; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

weee good job amazon

26. Greenmule

Posts: 130; Member since: Apr 24, 2017

Try as you will to stretch and twist this into some sort of SJW campaign; you can't. when Jeff Bezos wakes up in the morning he has one, and only one, job; to "maximize" the wealth of the amazon stockholders. Bezos owns 79.9 *million* shares of amazon. As far as world's richest men, he's #3 on the list behind Mr. Gates and Mr. Ortega. This website just recently had a very poorly written article about an analyst predicting that amazon--not Apple-- will be the first company to attain the market capitalization goal of one trillion US dollars. shares outstanding times price per share. the analyst prediction in that article had nothing to do with annual revenue; it was about market Cap. Bezos is clearly focused on that goal.

28. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1345; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

We'll, there goes a bit of net neutrality.

32. JasontheVeteran

Posts: 51; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

Just don't use WI-FI and you'll be fine!

33. applesnapple93

Posts: 333; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

If net neutrality doesn't get ripped apart, then this will not fly.

34. PrYmCHGOan

Posts: 335; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Big brother is too big!

37. Pitrich

Posts: 239; Member since: Apr 13, 2016

Sounds shady as hell. Land of the free?

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