Amazon attempting to patent S3

The US Patent and Trademark Office has disclosed Amazon’s latest patent application for a “Distributed storage system with web services client interface” here’s an extract from the abstract:

A distributed, web-services based storage system. A system may include a web services interface configured to receive, according to a web services protocol, a given client request for access to a given data object, the request including a key value corresponding to the object. The system may also include storage nodes configured to store replicas of the objects, where each replica is accessible via a respective unique locator value, and a keymap instance configured to store a respective keymap entry for each object. For the given object, the respective keymap entry includes the key value and each locator value corresponding to replicas of the object. A coordinator may receive the given client request from the web services interface, responsively access the keymap instance to identify locator values corresponding to the key value and, for a particular locator value, retrieve a corresponding replica from a corresponding storage node.

I’m guessing that in light of a recent supreme court ruling this application would not be granted under the strengthened obviousness test as such a patent for a distributed storage system with a web services client interface is about as obvious as you can get. It wasn’t too long ago Amazon failed in their attempt to patent one-click technology which again should have been rejected on the basis of the obviousness test but wasn’t largely because Amazon has a history of bullying the Patent Office … Tim O’Reilly summed up why in this excellent little article.

The more we move towards a Web 2.0 world with applications delivered as SaaS by its very definition were dealing with applications that require distributed storage which is accessible through web services. I’m not knocking S3, its excellent service and Amazon deserve our plaudits for creating such a successful service. S3 isn’t a unique invention it’s simply the putting together of a bunch of technologies already available, and Amazon aren’t unique there are other platform’s available similar to Amazon’s S3 .. Tim might have written the following in reference to the One-Click patent but I believe its equally applicable to this one…

Patents like this are also incredibly short-sighted! The web has exploded because it was an open platform that sparked countless innovations by users. Fence in that platform, and who knows what opportunities will never come to light?

I’m not sure whether Amazon would ever try to enforce this patent and I’m no expert on patent law, it just strikes me as a worrying development.

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