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On why patenting is crucial for competitiveness
Written by: Hanna Fleisher, Patent attorney assistant

A rare shopper does not compare prices when planning to make a purchase. In the modern world, this applies not only to really large purchases, but also to buying basic grocery goods. For the benefit of consumers, mobile applications and websites, which provide the possibility to compare prices for certain goods in certain stores, are created almost every day. To be honest, for most consumers, offering a lower price for a similar product is a decisive factor in choosing the store they ultimately buy in.

However, store owners, like any entrepreneurs interested in making a profit in return for the huge labor and resources they invested in, actually want to get this profit and not miss the client. Thus, Amazon Technologies, Inc., which owns a well-known chain of bookstores and a lesser-known chain of grocery stores, filed a patent application for invention US 13 / 464,602 in the United States on May 4, 2012. Since the examination of patent applications is not a quick process, patent US 9,665,881 was issued only on May 30, 2017. The patent is titled “Physical store online shopping control”, and its abstract is following: “Systems and methods for controlling online shopping within a physical store or retailer location are provided. A wireless network connection may be provided to a consumer device at a retailer location on behalf of a retailer, and content requested by the consumer device via the wireless network connection may be identified. Based upon an evaluation of the identified content, a determination may be made that the consumer device is attempting to access information associated with a competitor of the retailer or an item offered for sale by the retailer. At least one control action may then be directed based upon the determination“.

What does the abstract really mean? Generally, our smartphones have a setting with which the smartphone notifies its owner about the freely available Wi-Fi in his current location. Amazon knows this and is happy to offer you free Wi-Fi while shopping. But the development, patented by Amazon, assumes that when you access their network, Amazon will track what you are doing. And, if the tracking system detects that you are trying to compare prices, it will take action. And, the actions include blocking an attempt to compare prices, redirecting to an Amazon-friendly page, or offering a discount or free option to stimulate you to return to shopping at Amazon. While you waiting for the price comparison results to download, you may also be contacted by an Amazon sales representative who has been informed of your actions.

However, it is worth remembering that obtaining a patent is not a guarantee of the introduction of a patented development into the market. And if you’re still having trouble comparing prices for Amazon products at their retail stores, just don’t use their free Wi-Fi.

In a nutshell, Amazon is a great example for all entrepreneurs that you can use a variety of means to reap the fruits of your hard work and strengthen your position in today’s highly competitive market, but these means must be correctly and reliably protected. Do not miss this opportunity to protect your ideas. Various strategies and intellectual property objects can be used for this, Intectica and our Research and patent department will help you with this.

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