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Amazon’s ingenious patent on replacing bad gifts with something you actually want

Zachary M. Seward
By Zachary M. Seward

Chief executive officer

A patent held by Amazon imagines a world in which no one is disappointed by what he finds under the Christmas tree. The patent, filed in 2006 and awarded in 2010, is titled, “System and method for converting gifts,” though it may as well be called Perfect Santa.

One major caveat: this utopian future is only possible if everyone uses Amazon to send and receive gifts. How convenient for them! From there, the system is easily explained with the images in this post, which are drawn from the patent application. Think of it as a form of preemptive gift return: if your uncle tries to send you another sweater, don’t even send it, just replace it with DVDs of equal value.

Whether this kind of system would go over well in polite society remains to be seen. Amazon has never released a feature like this, though in the patent application, it imagined that notifying the gift giver of the exchange would be optional.


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