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Amazon’s “1-Click” has expired but is it freely available to all?


Jake Mace by: Jake Mace | October 3, 2017

Amazon’s “1-Click” patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,960,411) expired on September 11, earlier this year, but there are ways to extend protection beyond a patent’s typical 20-year term.

A patent application filed today will generally expire in 20 years unless additional time is added either as Patent Term Allowance (PTA) or Patent Term Extension (PTE). PTA is granted when there is delay caused by the patent office, though it can be negated if there is similar delay caused by the applicant.

Surprisingly, there is no limit to the amount of PTA that can accrue, though typically it’s no more than a few years. PTE, on the other hand, is only available to medically related patents because it is intended to account for time during which that device or medicine must go through clinical testing and regulatory approval. The maximum amount of PTE that can accrue is five years. Regardless of whether a patent has additional term stacked on, the reality is the patent is enforceable for a much shorter period than the 20-year term that’s advertised.

The brief period of protection provided by a patent often prompts one look into additional forms of protection that, though weaker, can last much longer. One such protection includes trademarks, which, despites only only protecting a word or symbol associated with a business, can last indefinitely as long as it is continuously used.

Although Amazon’s 1-Click technology is now open for use, the name is not. Amazon has registered three separate trademarks to protect the “1-Click” name:

Mark Reg. No. Reg. Date Goods and Services
1-CLICK 2264368 7/27/99 IC 035 – “Computerized on line search and ordering service featuring… [media]”
1-CLICK 4236342 11/6/12 IC 035 – “Computerized on line search and ordering service featuring… [goods, media, and data]”
IC 036 – “Financial transactions services … through electronic communications networks”
1-CLICK 4870929 12/15/15 IC 036 – “Financial services … providing on-line stored value electronic accounts…”

If you want to implement the technology on your website, you’ll have to get creative with the same, though, because both “ONECLICK” and “SINGLE CLICK” are also taken, just not by Amazon.

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