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I came across a patent that was issued a few days ago: US 9,799,066: System and method for providing commercial functionality from a product data sheet.

The patent describes a process where

  • products can be searched for in an ecommerce type system
  • When a product is selected, a product page is displayed.
  • The product page then displays a link to purchase the product as well as a link to an additional page where further information about the product can be displayed, in the form of a product datasheet (something like a PDF).
  • The product datasheet is unmodified.

I'm trying to infer what could be considered novel about this arrangement? From the description it sounds like an ecommerce system, not quite unlike most online retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart, etc.

The first claims:

  1. A computer-implemented electronic commerce system, comprising: a primary product information display system including a computer processor, memory, an input device and an output device and configured to implement a product ordering method,

including receiving a product search inquiry from the input device,

displaying a plurality of products in a product listing available for purchase through the electronic commerce system based on the product search inquiry on the output device,

receiving a selection of a product from the product listing, and

displaying a first product information page including at least a product name, a product price, general product information, a first product ordering link for accessing a product ordering interface and a product information detail link; and a secondary product information display system configured to display additional information based on a selection of the product information detail link,

including receiving a product datasheet including the product name, the general product information, and product technical information associated with the first product information page;

generating a functional product datasheet including at least one of a second product ordering link for accessing the product ordering interface and an inventory reporting display, without modifying the product datasheet;

modifying the product information detail link prior to displaying the first product information page such that the link redirects from the product datasheet to the functional product datasheet;

receiving the selection of the modified product information detail link; and

displaying the functional product datasheet based on the received selection of the modified product information detail link.

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To infringe on a claim you have to implement each and every aspect of that claim. Long and complicated claims are generally easier to circumvent. Looking at the claim you quoted, the following section stands out to me.

generating a functional product datasheet including at least one of a second product ordering link for accessing the product ordering interface and an inventory reporting display, without modifying the product datasheet;

modifying the product information detail link prior to displaying the first product information page such that the link redirects from the product datasheet to the functional product datasheet;

It seems the claim is specifying actively generating the datasheet and modifying a link to it on demand. If you have a already existing datasheet and existing link to it, I’d imagine you avoid infringement.

Infringement analysis is tricky and I’d have to study the specification and other claims to be more confident. In addition, I’m not an attorney. Even if I were, I’d recommend consulting with one if you are worrying about infringing on any patent.

  • Thanks for the insight. It appears to me, and I may be completely wrong, that the description of the invention here is in line with what has been done by online commerce portals such as Amazon.com for some time. Looking at the patent's description of the process and its figures, it seems that the invention may be somewhat novel, but it certainly wouldn't pass a non-obviousness check in my book. Again, my opinion. – Judy Oct 31 '17 at 16:58
  • @Judy Not disagreeing with you ;) – Eric Shain Oct 31 '17 at 17:47

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