back to article Amazon patents caches for physical goods has been granted a patent for “a method and system for anticipatory package shipping”. The patent's concept is simple: Amazon wants to pack up single items and ship them closer to customers, even before they order the item. These “speculatively shipped packages” will be distributed to a “hub” in locations Amazon …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ashton Black

    How is this an invention?

    I don't understand. How is this an invention? It's a business process. Using software to anticipate product requirements has been around for years? Google "Just in time"

    1. Cliff

      Re: How is this an invention?

      Doesn't sound like an actual invention, just a USPTO broken patent land-grab to intimidate smaller companies. To me, anyway.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: How is this an invention?

        One part of this doesn't sound so much "just in time" as "just in case"!

        Next they'll be droning giant helium filled airships around urban population centres like enormous floating warehouses ready to micro-drone-drop packages to people's back gardens.

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: How is this an invention?

          we're basically talking a hybrid of the amazon website and hotel minibar

        2. JustWondering

          Re: How is this an invention?

          Drone deliveries? Out here in the colonies, we're calling that skeet shooting with prizes.

    2. PassiveSmoking

      Re: How is this an invention?

      In America, everything is an invention. Shitting yourself is probably patentable.

      1. MooseNC

        Re: How is this an invention?

        Sweet! That means I already have two patents, just this morning!!!

        1. Chris 244

          Re: Two patents by noon

          Prior art.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: How is this an invention?

      More importantly how is this different Dell's current fulfilment model for laptops? that they've been operating for several years now...

    4. Patent-Attorney

      Re: How is this an invention?

      Business methods are patentable In the U.S.

    5. swschrad

      prior art exists.

      it's called "branch stores" and "warehouses" depending on the depth of the shelves.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Errr this is not new

    It is called the local shop.

    You know the one that stocks the sort of things that local buy!

    Doh obviously.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Errr this is not new

      > local shop

      Or for a more exact analogy, that phenomenon which used to be common in rural parts (of the UK, at least), the mobile shop.

      Take a reasonably sized van, equip it with shelves, make a prediction of what your customers might want, stock up the van and drive it around the hamlets*. [Emphasis added].

      This worked well in the days before most people had cars and had been bamboozled by "choice". Why the hell my local supermarket has to stock 29** varieties of toothpaste I cannot fathom. In any event, the business process has been anticipated by at least fifty years to my personal knowledge, unless the USPTO is going to fall for the "... and do it with a computer" claim. Oh, hang on...

      * Stopping to make sales to customers usually makes for a more successful business. Do I have to say that?

      ** Yes, I counted. Why do you ask?

      1. Craigness

        Re: Errr this is not new

        I'll take your "mobile shop" and add the word "ONLINE". Bingo!, a brand new invention.

        </sticks the word MOBILE in back pocket for later>

      2. JustWondering

        Re: Errr this is not new

        Weren't there people hundreds of years ago doing this? I believe the term for them was pedlars. Horse or donkey and a wagon.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Get the basics right

    Going by my last attempt to buy something from Amazon, I think they should concentrate on getting the goods that they know the customer has ordered to their destination, rather than washing their hands once the dispatching company has the request.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Get the basics right

      They need to get the digital content side right as well. Their mp3 site and audible are crippled by design if you don't want to install their malware apps on your computer or have a platform they don't port the apps to.

  4. silent_count


    How is this process, as described by Amazon, different from how retail stores do their ordering?

    Our average 1L milk sales on Monday, during the previous month, was 10 bottles so we'll order 10 for next Monday.

    Throw in a few 'speculatives' and a 'preemptive' and it's apparently worthy of a patient.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: patient

      "Throw in a few 'speculatives' and a 'preemptive' and it's apparently worthy of a patient."

      Anyone waiting for Yodel usually has to be very patient.

  5. P. Lee Silver badge

    It sounds like...

    a warehouse.

    But I guess if it's loaded into a lorry, they can tag it with: "in a mobile device."

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: It sounds like...

      'But I guess if it's loaded into a lorry, they can tag it with: "in a mobile device."'

      They can't. Apple have a patent to use the phrases "on/in/with/using/under/behind/instead of/inside/outside/beside/around/in place of* a mobile device" in patents.

      * Delete as appropriate. And I might have missed some.

  6. Arachnoid


    There's an app for that....

  7. Elmer Phud


    If they base it on thier endless 'recommendations' then they won't shift much.

  8. spiny norman

    Next stage

    Yodel delivery drivers turning up with stuff you haven't ordered and chucking it into next door's hedge if you're not in.

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Next stage

      > Yodel delivery drivers turning up with stuff you haven't ordered and chucking it into next door's hedge if you're not in.

      How is that different from the current stage?

      1. PsychicMonkey

        Re: Next stage

        going by recent experience it would be nice if the yodel delivery actually turned up instead of claiming to have attempted delivery at 3am...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Congrats USPTO

    Let Amazon patent mail fulfillment services. Bulk shipping goods closer to your customers, then tell the fulfillment agent to send out products to your clients as they purchase them. Typlical US patent shite.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spolsky, software, stackexchange, patents

    Who here knows about Spolsky on Software and related bogs?

    Who here knows about stackexchange and related websites?

    Who here knew that there is a member of that family of websites set up specifically to (amongst other things) help eliminate implausible patents when there is clear prior art ?

    Have a lot of fun.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Isn't this Argos' entire business model? Each store has a selection from the catalogue "out back" based on what the managers think will sell in that locale.

    Oh, well.

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Might not be new

    But everyone that "is doing it" is doing a really crap job. Hopefully Amazon will shake things up and idiots like Radio Shack and Best Buy will finally go out of business.

    The local Best Buy doesn't even stock HDMI cables. Or non-wireless Ethernet cards. Or more than one model/capacity of disk drive or home router. Seriously. There's a reason you don't need to fight for a parking space out front.

  13. DJV Silver badge

    Prior art

    See any Road Runner cartoon where Wile E Coyote orders something from the Acme company and has it delivered within 10 seconds.

  14. Alan Denman

    Now what do we eat?

    Apparently Tesco will have to close down next week.

    It is their cache of food that infringes.

    Obvious innit.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re 'Typlical US patent shite.'

    Yes,it is tarted up up protectionism.

    The US seems to be going down the corrupt swanny.

  16. knarf

    Corner Shop ?

    This sounds like a corner shop or even argos

  17. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Patent law badly needs the concept of a "vexatious applicant".

  18. jubtastic1

    The masterplan is revealled

    1) Make existing shops uneconmical to run by undercutting them with an online shop that runs at breakeven, or a small loss.

    2) Somehow manage to patent distribution warehouses.

    3) When all the shops are closed, add a 'showroom' and 'collections desk' to each local warehouse, which by now are the size of a small moon.

    4) Somehow manage to patent the shop.

    5) Jack up prices 100% a year.

    6) Rebranding, new tagline: 'where else can you go' with new line art logo: 'JB gives you the finger'.

  19. largefile

    Nothing here but a group of bitching haters.

    Honestly, I'm trying to remember ANY comment thread in this rag where the readership has for the most part praised anything. Amazing amount of hatred here, day in, day out.

    Is there nothing positive at all about Amazon? I for one do not miss brick and mortar shopping much at all. Amazon for the most part in my neck of the woods offers a better selection of most of the things I want than does any brick and mortar store or online store for that matter. I've ceased doing web searches when shopping and start by searching Amazon where I can one click myself into Nirvana. Living in Seattle, I have now many times ordered something in the early AM only to be surprised to have it delivered in only one day. I've taken advantage of a few "same day" deliveries for an additional $3.99. If this anticipatory shipping does as I suspect, there will be far more items available to me for same day shipping. Amazon kicks arse!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing here but a group of bitching haters.

      The gripes are not so much Amazon in general (although others of their business practises, in common with a long list of US companies in particular - Apple anyone? are a great cause for concern).

      The primary issue is that they are attempting to claim a patent for the long established business practise of anticipating demand and moving stock close to the anticipated customer in advance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing here but a group of bitching haters.

      "Is there nothing positive at all about Amazon?"

      Not that I'm aware of.

  20. RLWatkins

    OK, this is a "me too" post....

    The notion that a retailer can patent the practice of housing inventory near where they expect people to buy it is prima facie absurd.

    If that can be done, then I shall resume my effort, first mentioned on this site in 2006, to patent the graphical representation of verbal communications, and to patent the use of artifacts, i.e. the use of anything not simply found lying about on the ground.

    This new Amazon patent-of-the-obvious gives me renewed hope.

  21. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    You're missing the point lads.

    Ignore the patent - the fact that they think it's a patentable business method tells you quite a lot about how the Amazon site and databases works behind the scenes. When you go to Amazon and start searching or browsing for a product category they probably have a better idea of what you'll eventually purchase than you do when you log in.

  22. etabeta

    USPTO on crack!

    USPTO on crack? So any entity that has local warehouses to distribute their wares more efficiently is infringing this so-called patent?? What a sick and broken patent system. The USA is becoming a troll haven.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there another motive for this?

    Maybe I'm being a bit thick (again), but is there maybe another motivation for this change that us technies appear to have missed so far?

    What's the financial (e.g. tax) treatment of stock in the warehouses for Amazon at the moment? It seems to be widely accepted in retail that having stock is financially a Bad Thing, even though stock availability is what allows orders to be fulfilled and revenue to be booked and received.

    If your physical stock is not on the books as stock but immediately it arrives it goes onto the books as a "sale" which is allegedly already on its route to the customer, does this make any difference to the retailer's financial situation? I'm thinking it might, but ICBW.

    Just askin, like.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019