A new patent appears to hold the key to help brick and mortar stores fight what has been dubbed as the ‘retail apocalypse.’ There’s only one caveat, it is owned by Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer has just been granted a patent for a system that stops brick-and-mortar customers from comparing in-store prices to competitors’ online offerings–a move that’s been largely viewed as head-scratching at best. After all, the retailer has constructed a vast empire by putting many a brick-and-mortar retail shop out of business with its lower prices. The patent, which was first reported by The Verge, is called ‘Physical store online shopping control.’ It describes how a retailer can monitor customers’ Internet use–while on the store’s WiFi–and deter them from checking competitors’ prices. A practice that occurs so frequently, people have given it a name: ‘showrooming.’ When the technology detects users attempting to compare an item price on a competitors’ website, the retailer can try to persuade them to buy it in-store by offering a coupon or to price-match the competitor. It can also block users from browsing the competitor’s site altogether. Read more at Inc.