The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted a patent to Amazon that can be used to prevent shoppers at Amazon’s offline outlets from accessing online price comparison platforms, reports The Verge. This is ironical, to say the least, because Amazon’s growth has been fueled by the fact that it allowed shoppers to compare prices online before making a decision regarding where they would buy from.

The patent, which is titled ‘Physical store online shopping control’, is a mechanism that will allow the retailer to intercept network requests such as URLs or search terms over the in-store Wi-Fi, and then take action based on it. So, for example, if the retailer notices that a shopper is trying to access a competitor’s website, they could potentially block it, redirect to a different URL, or even snoop and offer the shopper a better price.

A system, comprising: at least one wireless access point configured to provide Internet access to a consumer device within a retail establishment associated with a retailer, and at least one processing component configured to: identify a first uniform resource locater (URL) requested, via the wireless access point, by a browser application executing on the consumer device; determine, based upon a comparison of the first URL to stored information associated with one or more competitors of the retailer, that the first URL is associated with a competitor Web site; identify an offering of an item on the competitor Web site; identify (i) retailer information associated with an offering of the item by the retailer and (ii) competitor information associated with the offering of the item on the competitor Web site, …. that information associated with an offering of a complementary item that is complementary to the item should be presented to the consumer in lieu of counter-competitive information that competes with the offering of the item on the competitor Web site; and redirect the browser application to a second URL different from the first URL, wherein the second URL is associated with a Web site that includes the information associated with the offering of the complementary item.

With this mechanism Amazon can also triangulate the shopper’s location within the store by “utilizing information received from a multitude of wireless access points”, and based on the location information it can “identify one or more items [nearby] that interest the consumer and/or direct a sales representative to assist the consumer.”

It’s worth noting that the patented mechanism works if the shopper is connected to the in-store Wi-Fi, and can possibly be bypassed if the shopper instead uses the network provider’s connection.

Amazon operates eight physical bookstores across the US, with several more opening soon, as indicated on its site. The company is also working on its Amazon GO store, which is currently only open to Amazon employees. The store will automate the shopping process, by eliminating the need to stand in a queue to pay bills, similar to how we currently exit a Uber after reaching our destination, and don’t need to stop and pay the fare. Apparently, Amazon is working on setting up physical stores in India as well.

Amazon drone safety patent

Earlier this month, Amazon filed a patent application in India for propeller technology to improve safety of automated aerial vehicles (AAVs) or drones. This technology will reportedly automatically detect any contact or any imminent contact between the drone’s propeller and an object, including humans and animals such as pets. Once such a contact is detected a variety of safety features will be initiated to stop or rapidly reduce propeller rotation, move the drone away from the object, emit a warning note, among others. While, a week before this, the company was granted a patent for a shipping label, including a built-in parachute, by the USPTO.

Read the entire patent filing here.