Jeff Bezos: A patent madman

In a lot of major high tech corporations, the founders have to completely forgo their interest in research to concentrate on more mundane matters such as lawsuits, personnel issues and coming up with catch phrases for speeches.

But Jeff Bezos, who graduated from Princeton University in electrical engineering and spent his early career building stock trading systems, appears to be still tinkering about. The Amazon CEO is named as an inventor or co-inventor in eight of the company's patents and patent applications, according to a search of the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

In all, is listed as the assignee on 50 patent applications and patents at the USPTO, putting Bezos on almost 20 percent of them. As fictitious individuals, corporations can't invent something, so inventor/employees make them the assignees.

Bezos is even in an application filed in February 2005 which seeks a patent on "a computer-implemented service" that lets you know what people in particular affinity groups bought.

"In one embodiment, a user of the service can select a particular community, such as by selecting the name of a corresponding organization or geographic region, to view a list of items having relatively high popularity levels in that community," the application states.

A 1997 Bezos patent outlines a similar affinity concept. Bezos is listed as the sole inventor of Amazon's first patent application, filed back to May 1995.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, software architect at Microsoft, is listed as an inventor on only one Microsoft patent, and it dates back to 1994, according to a search of the USPTO database. (The searches are conducted by using the last name of the executive--Gates--as inventor and the company as the assignee.)

How many patent applications has Eric Schimdt filed for Google? None.

Sloth. Pure sloth.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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