Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) sole control over its signature one-click shopping on the internet is coming to an end now that it’s 1 Click patent has expired.
The e-commerce giant landed the patent 20 years ago when it was only hawking books, but it has enabled it to provide a level of convenience for shopping consumers that has been hard to replicate by other online retailers. It's also precluded competitors from offering a similar feature or face lawsuits.
The controversial patent created a lot of backlash among competitors who wanted to offer the convenience but had to license it from Amazon. As GeekWire pointed out, its main rival back then, Barnes & Noble, tried to introduce a similar tool but was sued by its e-commerce rival. The case was settled in 2002, noted GeekWire. Apple Inc. (AAPL) opted to license the technology from Amazon in 2000 rather than take on the company in court. At the time, Steve Jobs touted the convenience one click would provide to consumers and issued a joint statement with Amazon promoting it. (See also: Amazon Monetizes Convenience.)
Still a Needed Innovation?
Although some questioned the granting of a patent of that nature, it did pave the way for online shopping as we know it today. But with the patent expiring, consumers could see a lot more opportunities to impulse shop—if they have already provided their payment information to the merchant. It also creates the potential for consumers to end up with purchases they didn’t mean to buy. Either way, it’s likely good news for retailers that are trying to find new ways to lure consumers their way and away from the Seattle-based online retailer. It’s also apparently positive for tech heavy hitters including Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Facebook (FB) and Alphabet’s Google (GOOG). NPR reported that all three are mulling creating one-click ordering on their own websites. (See also: Whole Foods Foot Traffic Up 25% After Amazon Deal.)
Whether or not one-click payments will continue to be necessary remains to be seen. After all, when Amazon launched the feature, there weren’t mobile payment apps, contactless payments via smartphones, smart speakers like Echo or wearable devices that can purchase things.