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With newly granted patent, Amazon explores possibility of digital used book store

Is Amazon getting ready to develop the 21st century equivalent of a used bookstore, a la California-based eBay? Maybe, if a recently awarded patent is any indication.

In layman's terms, Amazon's patent protects a means by which one user can transfer an electronic file from his or her account to another user's account. The key here is that the mechanism deletes the file from the original user's account; thus, only one copy of the file exists, and selling it does not allow the file to multiply.

That Amazon has an interest in developing technology related to this area indicates it might be developing a market for "used" book, music and movie files.

If it is, that probably has publishers, movie studios and record labels nervous.

Platforms like iTunes, which made it possible for music to be sold legitimately, really cut down on Internet piracy. Now, however, sites like bitTorrent and streaming media services are starting to reduce the economic gains iTunes and its colleagues made.

As our readers no doubt are well aware, media companies have had a difficult time adapting to technology. It is not as though people everywhere spontaneously decided to abandon books, movies and music. Rather, the Internet provided (and to some extent, still provides) a means to get these items for free, so companies have not been very successful at making money via technology.

Because we examine both entertainment law and intellectual property matters in our office, this is an issue which we're sure to pay attention to going forward.

Source: PC Mag, "Amazon Patent Tips Used E-Book Store," Stephanie Mlot, Feb. 8, 2013

  • If you'd like to know more about patents, you might find the Patent Law page of our website to be a useful resource.

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