Amazon Patents Basic Arithmetic

Believe it or not, Amazon has filed for, and been granted a patent for, basic math. Yep, that’s right. Of the 1+1=2 variety. Patented by Amazon Patent Number 7,085,677.

Ok, sure, it sounds a bit more complicated and sophisticated when they put it in legalese, as here in the intro for their patent:

“A method, system, and computer-readable medium is described for automatically identifying incongruous item packages, such as to detect incongruities in the items that are included as contents of the item packages and/or to identify incongruities in the packaging used for the item packages. In some situations, the automatic identification of incongruous packages includes initially automatically learning appropriate values for parameters of items (e.g., item weights and/or dimensions) based on automatically measured parameters of packages including those items. Those item values can then be used to estimate corresponding parameter values of sealed packages that contain those items, and to further identify incongruous item packages whose measured parameter values do not correspond to the estimated values for those parameters.”

Here is the actual process:

“automatically estimating actual weights of each of the multiple available items at the package shipping location by repeatedly measuring weights of sealed packages being shipped and attributing portions of the measured weights to items that are included in contents of those packages; after the automatic estimating of the actual item weights and for each of multiple additional sealed packages that are being shipped, automatically detecting whether a problem exists with contents of the package by, identifying items intended to be in the contents of the package; calculating an anticipated total weight for the package if the identified intended items are in the contents, the calculating based in part on the estimated actual weights of those intended items; measuring an actual total weight of the package; and when a deviation between the anticipated and actual total weights for the package exceeds a predetermined threshold, diverting the package from shipment for manual review of the contents of the package; and for each of the diverted packages, when the manual review of the package indicates that items actually included in the contents of the package are different from the intended items for the contents, correcting the contents before shipping the package; and when the manual review of the package indicates that the actually included items in the contents match the intended items for the contents, updating the estimated actual weight for one or more of the included items to correspond to the actual total weight for the package.

What does this mean? It means this:

“We know what is supposed to be in the box. We know how much each item weighs. We add the sum of the weight of each item that is supposed to be in the box, and if it doesn’t add up, there’s a problem.”


Just be careful, Amazon, because if you are using a computer to do it, you are probably infringing on Microsoft’s patent on the double mouse click.

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One Reply to “Amazon Patents Basic Arithmetic”

  1. And I have just patented paper…. “They” need a medium to write all their 1+1s on… now don’t they!
    I don’t think any of this will fly if it gets into court when Amazon tries to collect royalties.

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