Electronic commerce (EC) is the process of selling and buying goods or services through an online platform used for conducting the necessary business communications and transactions for sellers and buyers over the Internet. EC companies sell products online with an emphasis on running the entire supply chain process efficiently. The business processes, that enterprises use to conduct e-commerce business, are quite valuable and can be treated as intellectual properties (IPs). Business method patents provide inventors and enterprises with protection for the unique business process. The United States provides business method patent owners an exclusive IP right for 20 years. A good quality business method patent is considered a powerful and effective tool to generate revenue and bar potential competitors from duplicating the practices. Patent analysis can assist companies in evaluating their business strategies or redesign their business processes. Grouping patent documents and defining a domain ontology helps companies describe technology trends and innovations. This research uses Amazon's business processes as a case example to conduct business method patent analysis, particularly considering order fulfillment as a key method to manage inventory and purchase orders. An EC ontology schema is constructed based on the key EC business processes and key-phrase extraction from the patents. Understanding Amazon's patents and their relationships to the business process, other EC enterprises can examine their own patents' strategic strengths and weaknesses. In addition, they can prevent their business processes not to infringe upon existing EC patents.
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