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Method and apparatus for mobile electronic commerce

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Title: Method and apparatus for mobile electronic commerce.
Abstract: A method for having a mobile price transaction system including comparisons. The system obtains information about prices and transactions involving products and services in real time over a wireless link. The actions include making a price comparison inquiry to a central server for the product, service, or price information. The inquiry is formatted in the central server for transmission to sources of the information such as vendors or their web sites. After receiving a response from the sources, the response is suitably formatted and is displayed on the mobile unit. The information will often be available locally on the central server, but the present invention includes commanding remote sources to provide an action such as a response, including a response at a desired time or for desired conditions. ...


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Inventors: Sunil K. RAO, Sanjay K. RAO, Raman K. RAO
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120059733 - Class: 705 264 (USPTO) - 03/08/12 - Class 705 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120059733, Method and apparatus for mobile electronic commerce.

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CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part of copending application entitled INTELLIGENT KEYBOARD SYSTEM, Ser. No. 09/281,739, filed Jun. 4, 1999, which is a continuation-in-part application of a now abandoned application entitled A SYSTEM LEVEL SCHEME TO CONTROL INTELLIGENT APPLIANCES, Ser. No. 08/764,903 filed Dec. 16, 1996.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Purchasing transactions are an integral part of our way of life, such as in trade and travel, and affect everyone personally. However, in the prior art, purchasing transactions are often hit or miss actions with price as the primary and most often the only determinant factor. Small changes in a price, for example, will often create very large changes in the perceived value of a business transaction, and will strongly influence trade, tourism, and most other facets of life. However, especially with respect to impulse purchases, price comparisons must be fast, accurate and convenient to have maximum effect and often are not adequate in this respect.

Ideally, details of a comparison will be transparent to the user, with the user seamlessly having the ability to take advantage of a bargain or to make a price comparison under the exact conditions the user chooses. In the prior art purchasing transactions were susceptible to manipulation. The buyer often received misleading, incomplete or even no information regarding other factors that are as important as price. The fully informed and intelligent selection of a specific merchant, vendor, or service provider requires the customer to evaluate extensive collateral information and reach a timely decision. This collateral information may include choice of color, size, and feel in the environment of expected use, weight, warranty, quality, reliability, and availability. The reputation of the vendor, service, return privileges, manufacturer, make, year of manufacture, product or service attributes, expected features in next year models, sales tax, and shipping costs are also important factors in a purchasing decision.

The factors that the customer should consider and weigh are many, and are not always amenable to intelligent processing on the fly. In the prior art the comparison of prices was conducted by a query to an individual web site of the vendor or the vendors belonging to that particular group. The answer was parsed for presentation on a stationary device or a mobile device without prioritizing, categorizing and ranking. Without the aid of comprehensive algorithms and software to fully optimize the individual value proposition, the customer may make a bad decision, generating a return of the merchandise or cancellation of the service.

Expeditious, timely and value enhancing transactions are in the best interest of everyone; customers, vendors and governments. Trade and tourism are often adversely affected if users expect more or believe they received less than they are entitled to due to inadequate information and poor communication.

Presently comparisons are often made in an ad hoc manner, such as by chance or by advertising forced on the consumer. These methods are inconvenient, annoying, costly, and may provide incomplete information for making a decision, thus dissatisfying consumers and also vendors who must deal with the resulting cost of product returns or the loss of repeat customers. An example is in precious metals, where gold coins are sometimes advertised as weighing a certain number of avoirdupois ounces. Without knowing the ratio of a troy ounce (480 grains) to an avoirdupois ounce (437.5 grains), the consumer would have to guess at the value.

Knowledgeable advisors may charge relatively excessive rates, defeating the reason for getting the advice. It is in the best interest of both a government wishing to encourage trade and tourism and of a user desiring trade or tourism to have simple, reliable price comparisons and transactions.

Standard methods for making comparisons, rather than providing a benefit to the government and users seeking trade or tourism, create confusion and uncertainty. This is especially true, as stated before, of cases involving ambiguous values, for example, unfamiliar systems of units of weights and measures, currencies, quality standards, cultural standards and so forth.

In addition, to foster competition in a free economy it is necessary that vendors not cooperate to set prices. Thus there is a prohibition in having one organization as a standard setter or clearinghouse of prices, if the effect is to restrict competition. Even in a competitive market, the consumer faces a daunting task if he/she has to conduct independent research to secure the best price and value on any given product or service. The consumer generally desires access to an unbiased way of freely and expeditiously conducting a price search based on chosen criteria and optimizing the acquisition cost to obtain a value that meets individual parameters. However, the search must be easily and quickly accomplished.

In the prior art items are often tagged with a label that has a bar code attached. This requires the act of scanning by the customer or sales clerk. Some items, like garments, have tags sewn or clipped on that may alert by audible sound if the tag is not removed or if the item is being removed without authorization. These methods are often not satisfactory, since they act only to prevent theft with no direct benefit to the customer.

In the prior art, mobile communication devices such as a cellular telephone/mobile device (CT/MD) do not have spread sheet capabilities, since mobile devices such as a CT/MD have data entry and viewing limitations. There is a longstanding need for providing spreadsheets with a CT/MD.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a price comparison and transaction system for supplying convenient, accurate and reliable information to a user, such as by using a mobile unit, and for simplifying the comparisons of values. This is especially true of ambiguous values, such as the English system short ton, which is 2000 pounds, and the English system long ton, which is 2240 pounds. The English ton can also represent several different units of volume in shipping, so a reference to a ton should cause the comparison system to develop a context to determine the system to use, provide detailed information about these variants, or provide prompting such as <what system do you want?>. Examples of ambiguous values are often found in shipping, where a shipping ton may be 35 cubic feet of material, 40 cubic feet of material, or 100 cubic feet of space, but is seldom 2000 or 2240 pounds. One would want to know that such differences exist, and to know which system for defining a ton is intended. It is an object of the present invention to determine these differences by context, wherever practical, or to provide suggestions if the context is unclear.

In an embodiment of the present invention, a mobile device, such as an Intelligent Keyboard, IK, a hand held computer, lap top computer, cellular phone, or other wireless device, acts as a price comparison/transaction station. These functions may also be implemented on a stationary device (SD), such as a personal computer (PC), even though the primary purpose of the present invention is to allow a high degree of mobility in connection with the desired action and is optimized for mobile devices. The comparison/transaction station provides for the acquisition of comparative pricing information and allows comparisons to be completed using a source of information, such as from web sites, that can be relied on by the consumer, the seller of the desired product or service, and other vendors. Information concerning a desired action may be entered in any language, with the request being forwarded to a central server via a wireless link for processing. At the central server, a matching routine, such as referrals to a lookup table, allows the desired action to be parsed into a more suitable form for processing. One example of a more suitable form is in language conversion, for example, from English to German or vice versa. The information might be in English, but desired in German. This could be translated, for a German speaker, to an equivalent German request, and might be answered in German text or delivered by a synthesized German voice.

In a preferred embodiment, the transaction to be used including price comparisons, along with the type of output desired, is first identified or determined for action by the system. The central processor determines the latest information relating to the desired action, such as by interrogating a web site, and calculates, for example, values for a service/product. Other information the user may wish is supplied, such as a price history, or likelihood of a better price from another source. Flags may be set for regularly interrogating a site and notifying the user of an event triggering a need which has been expressed by the user, such as about a sale on desired items meeting criteria the user has set.

Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention:

FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of a mobile unit used with a price comparison or transaction system of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of a table for entering the currencies desired to be used in a exchange rate comparison system.

FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of a price comparison system illustrating how information is obtained from remote sources, such as travel agencies.

FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of a price comparison request table of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows an alternate embodiment of a price comparison table of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows an embodiment illustrating how the prices of commodities for a specific currency might be parameterized.



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Previous Patent Application:
Method to facilitate electronic commerce between buyers and sellers using a buyer-initiated system
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Online marketplace
Industry Class:
Data processing: financial, business practice, management, or cost/price determination
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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120059733 A1
Publish Date
03/08/2012
Document #
13291962
File Date
11/08/2011
USPTO Class
705 264
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06Q30/06
Drawings
8



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