Amazon Receives Grant of “Anti-Showrooming” Patent

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Following the announcement of Amazon’s $13.7 billion-agreement to buy Whole Foods, is the grant of a patent application filed by the e-commerce giant in 2012 called the “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” which aims to discourage “showrooming.” Or so it would appear…

On the patent application’s Background, Amazon describes a negative scenario where consumers are able to personally evaluate items on the Brick & Mortar stores, obtain item information from employees at the physical store but review prices and make purchases from online retailers.  So basically, the online retailer earns money while the physical store retailer pays for space, inventory, employers and other costs while not being able to complete sales.

The patent gives a solution to this common issue faced by many Brick & Mortar stores – a system that will control online shopping within a physical store.

Abstract:  A wireless network connection may be provided to a consumer device at a retailer location on behalf of a retailer, and content requested by the consumer device via the wireless network connection may be identified.  Based upon an evaluation of the identified content, a determination may be made that the consumer device is attempting to access information associated with a competitor of the retailer or an item offered for sale by the retailer.  At least one control action may then be directed based upon the determination.

These actions may come in the form of blocking access to competitors’ sites, redirecting the customer to, sending the shopper coupons on their phones or notifying an Amazon Sales Representative to approach the customer and convince them to complete a purchase.

This has got to be the most cynical thing I’ve seen to date coming out of Amazon.


The media coverage I’ve seen has this story completely backwards

Various pundits I’ve read seem to be completely mystified as to why Amazon would pursue this patent.

The whole point of a patent is to have a (limited) monopoly on an invention or technique.  Usually, that is so that the inventor can be the only one to use (or license) that invention.

In this case, it is unlikely that Amazon has any interest in using that invention in that way — it is solely to prevent other B&M stores from using this method of anti-showrooming. DOH!

Just another case of Amazon wanting to take over the world…