Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Christmas Cheer Patents Privacy Your Rights Online

Amazon Patents Deducing Religion From Gift Wrap 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the judging-a-gift-by-its-cover dept.
theodp writes "If you're the giver or recipient of presents gift-wrapped by Amazon, you may want to take a gander at U.S. Patent No. 8,060,463, granted to Amazon last month for Mining of User Event Data to Identify Users with Common Interests. Among other things, Amazon explains the invention can be used to identify recipients of gifts as Christian or Jewish based on wrapping paper. From the patent: 'The gift wrap used by such other users when purchasing gifts for this user, such as when the gift wrap evidences the user's religion (in the case of Christmas or Hanukkah gift wrap, for example.)'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Amazon Patents Deducing Religion From Gift Wrap

Comments Filter:
  • Right... (Score:5, Funny)

    by billybob_jcv (967047) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @12:38PM (#38488464)

    ... because no Jew would ever buy presents for their Christian friends, or vice-versa...

    • Re:Right... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pdcull (469825) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @12:41PM (#38488484) Homepage
      Wouldn't just the date of the present-giving be more of a give-away than the type of wrapping paper?
      • You can't easily infer date of giving from date of ordering. We only got one Christmas present delivered in the week before Christmas, because we were planning to be out of town and finished shopping early. Since Christmas falls dead in the middle of Hanukkah this year, you'd really have no idea based on dates.
        • You can really infer anything from the wrapping paper except that it is maybe a gift. Has this patent been granted? I thought that the design has to work in order to get a patent?

          • by cvtan (752695)
            There used to be a requirement for a working model before a patent could be issued. No longer as of 1880 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_model [wikipedia.org]. I'm pretty sure it is possible to patent things that don't actually work. Items like perpetual motion machines are automatically rejected as a category though.
            • by RockDoctor (15477)

              Items like perpetual motion machines are automatically rejected as a category though.

              I think that the patent system that applies here allows perpetual motion machines to be considered iff (if-and-only-if) they are accompanied by a working model. Which would be dangerous, since some designs for perpetual motion machines may involve positive feedback loops, which could turn them into weapons of mass destruction. Seriously mass destruction : more Big Bang than "Little Boy" or "Fat Man".

              I don't know about your

      • No, Christmas isnt really an exclusively christian holiday. I dont know if you can set a year when it changed, or if it ever truly has been since it took off in the US (it wasnt a big deal during the revolutionary war, except for the Germans), but Christmas today is a hybrid holiday-- it is for christians a celebration of Christ's birth, and for others a traditional celebration of family, friends, and togetherness.

        A very good friend of mine-- an athiest-- is right now celebrating Christmas with his family,

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rtaylor (70602)

      It's about determining what kind of crap a person will buy; they really don't care why they are buying it. If a Jew buys Christians presents on Amazon then there is a good chance they will be interested in buying more Christians presents on Amazon in the future and marketing can help make that happen.

    • by BZ (40346)

      The patent is about inferring the religion of person B based on the wrapping paper person A uses for a gift he buys for person B.

      It doesn't matter whether person A in the above scenario is Jewish, unless you think he would use Hanukkah-themed wrapping paper for Christmas gifts for his Christian friends.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      True enough, let's not forget that most of the big christmas songs that are popular were written by Jews too.

    • by youn (1516637)

      but it is not the same, they are patenting doing this with only one click :)

  • Religion of giver? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sentry23 (447266) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @12:42PM (#38488488) Homepage

    Shouldn't that be the religion of the receiver ?

    (Unless it is really unimaginable for Amazon that people give presents across religious and ethnical boundaries.)

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Not even that. My mother converted from Judaism to Catholicism a long time ago, so we celebrate both holidays. I also have atheist and Buddhist friends whom I occasionally buy Christmas presents for, as Christmas has long since ceased to be a truly religious holiday. (I like the Futurama solution of calling the non-religious holiday Xmas, but I don't see it catching on.)

      And really, why does Amazon even want this information? Are they going to stop showing me ads for Dawkins polemics because someone sent

  • Where does Thomas the Tank Engine fit in?

  • What if I'm a satanist who just likes to use Jewish and Christian wrapping paper for kicks?
    • by Issarlk (1429361)
      Then you're a tiny, tiny, tiny error in their predictions and they don't care as long as their system works for 90% of the people.
      • Satanist, perhaps is small error. But I think a lot of functional athiests continue to celebrate the holidays they grew up with even if they don't believe in the religious nonsense behind it. This describes almost anyone I know through work or school (although not my family, who finds this idea offensive, and we just don't talk about it), as well as the Sikh family I was standing behind in line to get pictures of my son with Santa.

        My kids are growing up with Santa and the Easter bunny, the whole deal. It do

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Satanists don't give presents. Unless it's a letterbomb.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I would think a Satanist would give a gift meant to instill doubt in the mind of the receiver, or something that would tempt them into hell's domain, like a few hits of crack..

        • by Jawnn (445279)
          Wrong again. That would be Satan himself, not those who claim to "follow"him.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Christians would all love to see everyone get to heaven, would a Satanist not want to see everyone in hell?

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        No no they give citronella flavored candles to the leader of the coven - demons just lap it up its just like catnip to them
      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        Satanists don't give presents.

        Find some nicer Satanist friends. My Satanist friends have given me presents in the past - a nice half-bottle of whisky from one, and a blowjob from the other. Though what she wanted to do with the semen, I never did ask.

      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Satanists don't give presents. Unless it's a letterbomb.

        You must be confused. Currently, it's extremists Muslims who kill in the name of their religion. Used to be the Xtians. Satanists, and I mean the real, card-carrying deal, never have. Mind you, I am not an apologist for Satanists. There a bunch of goofy, deluded, histrionic losers, if you ask me, but slaughtering innocents in the name of a religious cause is pretty much against their "religion".

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      That's basically the same religion. Same pantheon, different temple. You're a Christian (or close enough).

      • by Pfhorrest (545131)

        You realize Satanists don't actually worship or even believe in the existence of Satan, right? They're basically anti-Christians, not only disbelieving the factuality of Christian claims, but more emphatically disputing the moral lessons of it, which they consider authoritarian and submissive, in favor of a more individualistic moral code. They just use an alternate character interpretation of the "villain" from their opponents' stories to make that point.

        Compare (though it's not a perfect analogue) the use

        • You realize Satanists don't actually worship or even believe in the existence of Satan, right?

          No, I didn't know that, and I find that to be disappointing. A Satanless Satanism has no charm at all. If I were a Satanist, I would schism the religion immediately and declare the Satan-deniers to be infidels. You gotta have the horned 'n' hoofed guy, for the artwork alone! I used to think Satanism was a reaction to lame religions, but it sounds like they managed to out-lame their parents.

          • by Sloppy (14984)

            This is why I have to delve into fiction to find a decent religion. The Cthulhu Cult believes in their guy, so they get to make idols. Old wizard Whateley and Joseph Curwen know Yog-Sothoth is real, because the spells work. A Satanless Satanism -- that's just fucked up. Satanists, WTF are you guys thinking?! Get with it and don't tell me "they change what it is." It was you. You changed.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      likes to use Jewish and Christian wrapping paper for kicks?

      Or for arse-wipes?

      I know, I know ; it's not very absorbent, it doesn't separate conveniently into useful size sheets, and it tends to form sharp-edged creases which can be ... irritating ... after a week of eating and drinking too much and getting "over doing it diarrhoea". Better to stick to (ouch!) those packets of shit-wipe that get left in hotel rooms. At least they're in convenient rip-out packages. They're getting rarer though - does anyone

  • by rossdee (243626) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @12:54PM (#38488534)

    Atheists, Agnostics, and members of other religions don't give Christmas presents ?

    BTW I am not a Christian

    And who wants to pay more for gift wrsp than for shipping?

    • by Dwonis (52652)
      Please stop capitalizing "atheists" and "agnostics"; They're common nouns. (Yes, I realize that you used "atheists" at the beginning of a sentence *this time*, but I bet you usually capitalize it no matter where it occurs, and even if you don't, others reading this do.)
      • When he uses the term "Agnosticism" to discuss a belief system, it is just as correct to capitalize it as it would be for Stoicism, Hinduism, Platonicism, Nietzscheism, or Pantheism.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I'd guess that atheists and agnostics will pick less religous themed wrapping paper more often. This year I wrapped gifts with yellow, purple, green and silver striped paper. None of this is supposed to be perfect of course. But as long as you have a statistically significant trend, you can do better than random guessing which is all you can really ask.

    • by IrquiM (471313)
      No, we give presents celebrating we've passed the middle of winter, the days are getting brighter and everything is looking good! It's called Yuletide.
  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @12:59PM (#38488556) Homepage
    Patents are supposed to be granted only for non-obvious solutions. How is this not obvious to someone trained in the art?
    • Re:Non-obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:09PM (#38488622)

      Clearly, deducing that somebody is Jewish because they bought Hanukkah wrapping paper is a brilliant invention worthy of the full protective power of the United States government and international intellectual property treaties. How else is America going to survive in the information age?

      Let me restate: figuring out that somebody is Jewish because they bought wrapping paper with Jewish stars on it IS STEALING. You wouldn't steal a car or a DVD, would you?

      • Clearly, deducing that somebody is Jewish because they bought Hanukkah wrapping paper is a brilliant invention worthy of the full protective power of the United States government and international intellectual property treaties. How else is America going to survive in the information age?

        This one seems like one of the safest useless patents ever. I seriously doubt any of Amazon's competitors would ever infringe on this one either unintentionally or knowingly, since it is so idiotic.

        The net result of this is that the patent office got a nice little fee, and Amazon got nothing useful in return (by their own choosing).

      • by 517714 (762276)
        C'mon moderators, before you mod something insightful, see if he stated the facts properly. The story says recipient, not buyer. Of course making the deduction from the buyer is obvious, but from the recipient that is ... extraordinary, and fully worthy of such governmental protections.
      • by msobkow (48369)

        Patents are supposed to be for inventions and implementations, not theories and generic "business ideas."

        The US patent system is so stacked against the individual developer and in favour of the established conglomerate that I decided a long time ago that I would never open a US office for my business. Instead, I'll let US companies establish partnerships to deliver services to the US market under their own branding, and let them deal with the US legal nightmare. All contracts will be signed on Canadian

      • I would've thought using datamining to determine who is Jewish should be compared to the Nazis.

    • by Machtyn (759119)
      That's what I thought. Profiling is now a patentable device? ("Device" being used in the very broadest of terms.)
    • They have such a backlog of patents that the USPO basically has decided that it is up to the courts to decide if a patent is valid or not. I cannot find the exact article that states this, but I did find this one in a past /. article. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100819/12015210689.shtml [techdirt.com]
  • Surely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:04PM (#38488586) Homepage Journal
    I can't be the only one who finds the idea of patents for " Mining of User... Data to Identify User[s]" a bit unnerving....

    Of course, I'm one of the apparent minority who tend to adhere to the concept that privacy is still a right.
    • by sosume (680416)

      This is an AMAZING invention! The world of science will be thrilled! Truly a giant leap for mankind! This was EXACTLY the progress in useful arts and science which the forefathers intended when they wrote the constitution!

      Seriously, is the USPTO smoking crack? If not, the only explanation is that the USPTO is a corrupt institution.

    • Of course, I'm one of the apparent minority who tend to adhere to the concept that privacy is still a right.

      It's a right in the sense that you have it by Nature, and it can be invaded (that FBI camera in your bathroom) but it can also be given away, even by third-parties (in this case).

      The in-person corollary is your brother walks into a store, says, "here, please wrap this gift in menorah paper and mail it to my brother Sid at 123 Main Street...". He's given away your privacy to the clerk. Same for Amazo

    • by swillden (191260)

      I can't be the only one who finds the idea of patents for " Mining of User... Data to Identify User[s]" a bit unnerving.... Of course, I'm one of the apparent minority who tend to adhere to the concept that privacy is still a right.

      From a privacy perspective, patents like this are a good thing. Why? Because if individual companies systematically lock up the rights to invade your privacy in various ways (assuming this is an invasion), then they'll all be restricted to violating your privacy in only the ways they have patented. The only legal way for them to violate other aspects of your privacy is to cross-license from or collaborate with the competition. This would slow innovation in privacy violation as much as it does in other a

  • Ermm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:09PM (#38488620)

    ... you can really patent something that basically reads, "Using a feature to help in set classification"?

    About ready to say scrap the entire patent system - at least when it comes to software. It's not like it protects the actual inventors any more at all.

    • ... you can really patent something that basically reads, "Using a feature to help in set classification"?

      About ready to say scrap the entire patent system - at least when it comes to software. It's not like it protects the actual inventors any more at all.

      Are you kidding? This is proof that the patent system rocks. It will generate law-firm billable hours, licensing revenue, and patent filing fees. Talk about growing the economy!

  • How many religious symbols can you really find on gift-wrapping anyway? Remember that Christmas trees are not particularly Christian; they're a pagan survival, and here in predominantly Muslim Turkey you can see loads of them put up for New Year celebrations. Angels? Found in several religions. Yule logs? Decidedly pagan. Holly? Super-pagan. Snowmen? Just plain weird.

    • by Sique (173459)

      Christmas trees are, as far as documentation goes, not a pagan survival, they only appeared about 500 years ago in Southwest Germany. At this time, Southwest Germany was christianized for 1000 years already. Nice tradition though.

      • by 517714 (762276)
        You are confusing the first recorded (written) decoration of christmas trees with when they were actually put into use. People who practice pagan rituals seldom document them when those rituals might get them killed by the local fanatics. All you know for certain from the documentation is that by the 15th century people in Germany did use Christmas trees without being killed for it.
        • by Sique (173459)

          No. This ist just making up history for the sake of it.
          The court records of people being convicted and killed because of paganism are there, and there is no evidence of someone being convicted because of a decorated tree.

          In the 19th century, it was en vogue to find local roots for about any tradition one could think of, and especially english and german authors were eager to reinterpret about anything catholic (and thus roman) as being derived from celtic or german origins. Many of those speculations are st

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sqlrob (173498)

        Then why is there a Bible verse banning them?

  • Because that's what my wife selected last year when she bought me a gift from Amazon one year.

    I really can't see any religion being tied to that

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:46PM (#38488848)

    . . . "Based on the Sending of Kinky Sexual Gifts to Non-spousal Persons."

    " . . . hmmm . . . let's see what the mayor is sending to other females besides his wife . . . "

    There's plenty more gold to be monetized in that Amazon mine.

    Ordered copies of "Armed Insurrections for Dummies" . . . ? "Cooking Crack in Your Bathtub for Fun and Profit" . . . ?

  • by z3r0n3 (665185)
    What gift wrap do pastafarians use?
    • by Kneo24 (688412)
      Cooked pasta loosely held together by hope and willpower.
    • What gift wrap do pastafarians use?

      Knitted spaghetti, squamous lasagna or (for small items) cannelloni.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      What gift wrap do pastafarians use?

      Goatse wrapping paper (see upthread) with a strategically placed mound of spaghetti to ... umm ... enhance the appearance of the meat ... balls.

      Yeuch.

      I'll use it for sending presents to politicians. And priests.

  • by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:53PM (#38488874)

    Determining religion by presence or absence of circumcision.
    Determining gender by presence or lack of a penis.
    Determining age by birth date.
    Determining quantity by how many of an item is present.
    and my favorite...
    Determining the failure of the US patent system by filing stupid patents.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Sunday December 25, 2011 @02:12PM (#38488974)

    to throw it all off I'm going to use Jewish wrapping paper to wrap pressed ham in a can, or Christian wrapping paper to wrap books about evolution or by Christopher Hitchens.

  • I wonder if that includes figuring out whether or not it was purchased from the bargain bin at Target... ??

  • This is why I had the goat leggings I purchased wrapped in Hanukkah gift paper and topped with a big red and green bow.

  • I am going to patent the heuristic thinking processes of a high value sales person 'on a smart phone' because that is totally different from on a computer because it has the words 'smart phone' in the patent.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @03:06PM (#38489232)
    This will be a great way to attract law suits claiming discrimination based on Religion. All they have to do is offer something to people of one religion and not offer it to everyone else.
  • This is obviously just a distraction to throw off other (r)e-tailers towards the much more useful (but too obvious to be patented) kungfu of forcing people to choose between a handful of options (two in this case) and then categorizing them based on that!
    Next up, using pizza chains to do marketing demographic research: Would you like a free Coke or Pepsi with your delivery?

    ...Looks like the MBA's have finally found their way to the USPTO. So much for patent reform.

  • Order a copy of the Koran with Hannukah gift wrapping!
  • "Amazon patents inferring religion from gift wrap" would be more correct.
  • So what about the ubiquitous 'snowflake' wraps out there? Or the colored plaid ones? Or the ones with candles on them?

    Does blue and white mean Jewish, even if it's a Swedish flag? Does green and red mean Christmas even if it's on a chili pepper? Candles must mean a menorah right?

    If I want them to wrap it in plain brown paper, are they going to assume I'm a Buddhist?

    What complete and utter nonsense and tripe.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      If I want them to wrap it in plain brown paper, are they going to assume I'm a Buddhist?

      No, they're going to assume you're ordering vibrators and blow up dolls. Your Amazon suggestions are going to get really disturbing soon.

  • When I've been to the Arab market in Jerusalem, the shop owners guessed the country I came from (in South America), my religion and the fact I'm a musican, as well as how much I was willing to pay for each item. Guess a simple algorithm is nothing compared to thousands of years of tradition as shopkeepers..
  • What the fuck has the USPTO become?

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

Working...