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Amazon Patents Gift Card Parental Controls 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the with-strings-atached dept.
theodp writes "On Tuesday, Amazon received a patent on 'Customizing Gift Instrument Experiences for Recipients', which allows a gift card giver to not only recommend items via the gift card but also to restrict the types of things the card can be used to buy — and to get a report back on what the recipient purchases. From the patent: 'The rules could also specify that the available media be constrained by a rating, such as a parental rating (e.g. G, PG, PG-13, R, etc.) or media that excludes explicit lyrics or language. In other examples, the gift instrument purchaser directs that the gift instrument can only be redeemed for books (e.g., not video games), books of a selected genre (e.g., romance, action, historical, etc.), books having a selected author, etc.'"
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Amazon Patents Gift Card Parental Controls

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  • by youn (1516637) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @04:25PM (#37848484) Homepage

    oh god, not again... to be fair, at least this one requires more than one click

    • yes, you are right!

      Of course nobody wants to mention that this isn't an "actual invention", just some stupid configuration that does not require either inovation or research.

      Oh, look I patented letting the logged on user choose the longevity of their cookies! YAY!

  • Wouldn't this be the same as setting parental controls on iTunes, XBox live or PSN? You can control what content your kids can buy, simply having it on a gift card is the next OBVIOUS step.
    • by icebike (68054)

      Well if it were OBVIOUS then why was it not done before?

      Seriously this is rather new, I'm not aware of anything quite like it. Imagine taking a class at a UNI, and the enrollment fees include a giftcard for the required text book. Making the giftcard specific to a given book would be great for this.

      But funding your child's Kindle purchases would seem to be the focus of this.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        Imagine taking a class at a UNI, and the enrollment fees include a giftcard for the required text book.

        Imagine taking a class at a UNI and having the cost of the book NOT be part of the cost of the class, so that someone who already has the book won't have to pay for something they already have, and someone who can buy it cheaper used can save a bundle of money doing that.

        Imagine a UNI system that wasn't so money oriented that it didn't force people to buy books they didn't want by charging them upfront in the fees to take the class.

        Ahh Wendy, I'm such a dreamer.

        • Imagine a UNI system that wasn't so money oriented that it didn't force people to buy books they didn't want by charging them upfront in the fees to take the class.

          Im at Uni right now, and while the costs of text books really are heinous (as are the per-semester customizations that make resale value 0), you dont really HAVE to buy all of the books-- you can rent, or do without in many cases, or sit next to someone else who did get it.

          Regardless, the cost of the book is part of the cost of taking the class. While it is a huge irritation to me what path they are going down, Im not really sure this qualifies as a major issue faced by students today.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Im at Uni right now, and while the costs of text books really are heinous (as are the per-semester customizations that make resale value 0), you dont really HAVE to buy all of the books-- you can rent, or do without in many cases, or sit next to someone else who did get it.

            That's right. RIGHT NOW you don't have to buy any of the textbooks. Nobody asks you to show the textbook before you get the grade. If they do, you can still borrow someone else's.

            Did you miss the part of what I replied to that talked about making the cost of the book a part of the course FEES and you get a gift card that will let you buy nothing but a copy of the book?

            Regardless, the cost of the book is part of the cost of taking the class.

            No, right now, it isn't. As you just said, "you can rent, or do without in many cases, or sit next to someone else who did get it". The f

            • No, right now, it isn't. As you just said, "you can rent, or do without in many cases, or sit next to someone else who did get it". The fees for the class do NOT include a book.

              Not what I said. To clarify so that you cannot misinterpret, getting to class, pencils, notebooks, bookbags, textbooks, etc are all part of the cost of attending class. If you find that you need one of them and cannot afford one, that is unfortunate, but it is, again, a part of the cost of going to a college class. Its not some separate thing, and Im not sure why youre trying to treat it as such.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                Not what I said. To clarify so that you cannot misinterpret, getting to class, pencils, notebooks, bookbags, textbooks, etc are all part of the cost of attending class.

                And to clarify for you, none of those are part of the enrollment or class fees. You don't have to give the university any money for any of those just to enroll in the class.

                Its not some separate thing, and Im not sure why youre trying to treat it as such.

                Because it is. You seem unable to differentiate between the costs of attending a class, which is what you are required to pay to the Uni so you can attend, and those voluntary costs that you spend other places to make your learning experience easier. You don't NEED a bookbag to attend a class, you choose to buy one if you want it to ma

                • Imagine taking a class at a UNI and having the cost of the book NOT be part of the cost of the class, so that someone who already has the book won't have to pay for something they already have,

                  Is what I thought we were running off of. Im just failing to see how baking the cost of the book into the class helps Joe who already has the Bio 101 book, and now has to pay that hidden cost in the enrollment fee. You know "Technology fees"? I imagine there would be a tacked on $100 "book fee". Joe is now out $100.

                  Why not just leave it as it is, so that folks like me can choose to pay $25 for the rental for those courses I dont care about, or look over the shoulder of a buddy on those that are super ea

      • Well if it were OBVIOUS then why was it not done before?

        In a sane world, the standard for obviousness would involve the question, "Are either the teachings of the patent or a casual inspection of the device itself likely to be necessary to understand how to duplicate the device?"

        If a patent is granted when the answer to this question is "no," then the patent system is not serving its original purpose as a means to disseminate useful information that would otherwise be locked up in trade secrets. The bargain

      • Well if it were OBVIOUS then why was it not done before?

        Well, why indeed. GP is right it is an obvious thing to do, why it hasn't been done probably goes back to human stupidity. The problem isn't why nobody else has done it, the problem is that the patent office granted a patent to a software configuration that is obvious and non innovative.

  • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @04:30PM (#37848560) Journal
    Really, isn't this just an obvious extension? What is patentable about age related permissions or permissions in general. I don't see anything all that novel in this. Ridiculous.
  • A simple, trivial, and most likely non-unique idea that has nothing to do with an invention -- perfect for a patent.
  • by ScottyLad (44798) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @04:33PM (#37848604)

    This reminds me of Christmas and birthdays as a child, eagerly opening the cards from generous relatives in the hope of finding money, and often discovering only Book Tokens [nationalbooktokens.com] inside.

    If you were really lucky and you caught the part time staff on a Saturday, sometimes they let you buy an LP or an audio cassette, even through they were only meant to exchange the tokens for actual books

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @04:34PM (#37848614) Journal
    I'm a bit surprised that Amazon made it past prior art. Although not applied to gifts(because those are, y'know, supposed to please the recipient) similar prepaid-purchase-widget-with-restrictions capabilities show up in some POS systems for paternalistic applications. This one [nutrikids.com], for instance, is designed to automate K-12 cafeteria systems, and allows parents to impose restrictions on the use of stored funds. And, of course, various welfare schemes have been using payment-instrument-with-limitations-on-use scrip of various flavors for pretty much as long as they have existed.

    Amazon's idea seems novel only in that it is applied to people you ostensibly like, rather than children or paupers...
    • by Talderas (1212466)

      Amazon's idea seems novel only in that it is applied to people you ostensibly like, rather than children or paupers...

      As long as I can restrict the card to only allow purchases of AO oriented material from Amazon then I'm agreement with it.

    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      I'm a bit surprised that Amazon made it past prior art.

      I'm not. Our entire patent system needs to DIAF.

  • Amazon patents sitting, breathing, passing gas and scratching the left testicle. Baseball organizations across the nation vow to appeal the patents.

    • by Pence128 (1389345)
      Until the patent can be overturned, baseball organizations are complying by sitting, breathing, passing gas and scratching the right testicle, which is completely different.
  • Pity its patented so there's no reason for anyone to try to improve on it.

    Not too keen on the 'parental guidance' but the feedback is a great idea. Maybe next year they can give me something better.

    • But this is not parental guidance. This gives any gift giver huge control that they shouldn't have.

      Give a kid a gift card that can only be used for a cd that's rated E and suddenly you start to have a higher rate of gift cards going unused. I mean, what 12 year old still wants to buy a Freshbeat Band cd?? Take it in a different direction, marriage gifts can involve lots of gift cards. Do givers go to the lengths to restrict, I mean gently direct, a person to certain types of items?

      IMO this is a "save t

  • --- again.

    CC.

    • Um... IF-THEN-ELSE is another way of saying "causality". Every patent relies on causality (because everything in the universe, except perhaps a few edge cases like quantum physics and certain aspects of singularities) relies on causality.

      • by foobsr (693224)

        everything in the universe, except perhaps a few edge cases like quantum physics and certain aspects of singularities) relies on causality

        Sure? I am not.

        Hint: Causality in complex systems

        CC.

  • Patenting the fact that you can restrict what will be bought with a gift card ? And we lived until now without it ? Really, Graham Bell and Thomas Edison have found their master here.
  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @04:45PM (#37848776) Journal

    I'm going to patent scratching my arse, breathing, drinking liquid and showering. Then you'll all have to pay up! Is my comment childish? Of course, just like the real patent system. How the fuck does this shit fly in the real world? How do It's plain to see in the last few decades we've gone from a vibrant growing society to a society in decline. We deserve it. Collectively we've become retarded. Supposedly intelligent learned people are supporting this stupidity as a way to protect innovation and reward innovators. They completely ignore the reality that this does not work AT ALL in the modern world.

  • XXX ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @04:46PM (#37848788)

    I'm sure this will be marketed as wholesome as apple pie "think of the children" holier than thou for christmas, but can it be repurposed for Valentines day to only allow the purchase of triple X videos or triple X toys? This could be kind of fun.

  • for ignoring their patent when they started the various versions of food stamps a number of decades ago. Imagine the royalties due for all those years of ignoring Amazon's patent.

  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @05:00PM (#37848948) Journal

    Print your own home made cards and give cash. That way you're not giving the gift of an expiring piece of plastic or paper which may or may not be honoured depending on how the company that issued it is traded. Gift cards are for suckers...err I mean unsecured creditors.

    Here in Australia when a couple of the big retail book chains got into trouble they just decided to not honour gift cards or honour only if you bought matching value, and they severely curtailed the time for which the cards were valid. I didn't get bitten but that was because I always knew such BS was possible. Any time I get a gift card I try to spend it immediately.

    Gift cards are a scam and should be made illegal.

    • Here in the US some states have some of the only sane consumer protection legislation in existence solely in order to protect against nefarious gift card issuers. Most states require issued gift cards to be honored as if it were cash for all transactions regardless, and I think New Jersey or Pennsylvania or one of those states made it illegal to charge a service fee within the first two years since issuance.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Here in the California, US, gift cards cost zero to to maintain and never expire. They cost zero to buy unless you buy from a third party.

      With that said, gift cards are silly because it ties you to a specific store and you end up spending more than the amount on the card. Plus, it's another card to carry around, keep track of, and lose.

      • With that said, gift cards are silly because it ties you to a specific store and you end up spending more than the amount on the card. Plus, it's another card to carry around, keep track of, and lose.

        Which explains why they're advertised so heavily by the people who issue them.

        • by syousef (465911)

          With that said, gift cards are silly because it ties you to a specific store and you end up spending more than the amount on the card. Plus, it's another card to carry around, keep track of, and lose.

          Which explains why they're advertised so heavily by the people who issue them.

          The only practical advantage of giving a gift card seems to be that it is more socially acceptable. But frankly if someone I give cash and a printed card/note is offended that's their problem - I simply won't give them any more gifts.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      I'm trying to remember, but the limitation your mentioning - didn't they apply to Borders while they were under receivership?

      I think it was a way of allowing gift card holders to realise at least partial value rather than deny all of them.

      • by syousef (465911)

        I'm trying to remember, but the limitation your mentioning - didn't they apply to Borders while they were under receivership?

        I think it was a way of allowing gift card holders to realise at least partial value rather than deny all of them.

        Both Angus & Robertson and Dymocks did this. I would be unsurprised if Borders followed. Meanwhile if people had given hand written notes plus cash they receiver of the gift would never have lost out.

  • Step 1: Buy one that reports back with what was bought for polititian you hate. Step 2: Hope he buys porn (but not a rental or your screwed). Step 3: ??????????????? Step 4: Profit!!! Better than voting!
  • Today was award a patent by the US Patent Office for applying for patents. will now begin to require royalties from people who would like to patent things.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Wednesday October 26, 2011 @06:02PM (#37849582)
    How does this advance the technical arts? Patents are supposed to advance the technical arts but I don't see how technology is improved by this patent.
  • I've recently discovered that okay deals can be found on the gift card secondary market. Where you sell the gift cards Aunt Rosie bought you that you won't ever use, and turn around and buy one (at an 8% or so discount to face value) for a place that you do shop.

    So if I got one of these gift cards, sold it on plastic jungle or one of the other places, and an unsuspecting person bought it, would the person who gave it to me end up getting a report stating what that third party bought? Isn't that an invasio

  • It's really not novel (restricted stored value cards have been around for a long time, just not deceptively called "gift cards"), but IMO they can have this one. Restricting gift cards which remain under the control of the giver to one company is a good thing.

  • This is getting ridiculous! The most trivial things are being granted a patent. What next? A patent cures pangs of hunger? We'd know as eating but I'm sure a few legal weasel words would hide that.
  • I'm a fan of gift cards, but not sure this is a "GIFT" - seems more like a credit card with restrictions. 1 - There are already credit cards that restrict buying power. For example, a company can set up employee gas card to only allow gas purchases. For parental control, I can see wanting to ensure my college kid uses a grocery gift card to only purchase groceries. But using a restricted gift card demonstrates a serious lack of trust in the process. Still, maybe it is needed for some. I'll give on that one
  • I don't really have any particular opinion on the whole issue surrounding the viability or legitimacy of the patent itself, but I do find the underlying concept pretty revolting. Now Aunt Maple can give Little Jeffie a gift card that only lets him buy Christian music? I know way too many controlling older people who don't understand technology very well who would jump a mile high at a chance like that.

    One of them is a preacher whose 22-year-old daughter is a single mother after a lifetime of being restric

  • Well, any "earmarked funds" public authorities give out work the same, don't they?

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