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In reference to Dash, the company who took this patent out, is it still possible to build an app that enables patrons to pay their bar tab via mobile device but using different methods?

From what I understand, the patent covers a mobile phone communicating with a POS system for the specific purposes of organizing, viewing, and paying your bill. (phone to POS)

If someone designed a widget installed on the POS system to communicate w/ the phone, would that necessarily infringe on this patent if it solves the same problem as the invention described in this patent? (phone to widget, widget to POS)

  1. A method for allowing a customer to view and at least partially pay a bill incurred in a bar or a restaurant, the method comprising:
    • Operating a POS system at the bar or the restaurant for tracking the bill and the bar or the restaurant having staff, wherein the POS system communicating with a customer mobile computing device;
    • Receiving, via the POS system, customer check-in data at the restaurant or the bar in response to checking-in via the mobile computing device and customer payment account data as a payment security in response to authorizing access to the payment account data via the mobile computing device;
    • Validating, via the POS system, the received payment account data for payment capability;
    • Receiving, via the staff, an order from the customer using the POS system and associating, via the staff, the order with the validated payment account data in the POS system through utilizing the check-in data, wherein the check-in data indicating the customer as being physically present in proximity to the POS system;
    • Displaying the bill in real-time via the mobile computing device upon the associating, the bill including the order;
    • Receiving at least partial payment according to the validated payment account data in response to authorizing the at least partial payment via the mobile computing device;
    • Tagging other visitors by the mobile computing device, tagging indicative of presence of the other visitors in the bar or the restaurant, the customer and the other visitors splitting the bill via the other visitors submitting the other visitors payment information only, the other visitors operating personal mobile devices; and
    • Tagging the other visitors by the mobile computing device when the other visitors also check-in via the personal mobile devices.

The claim as written seems highly specific. Can one tweak a design with the end goal of allowing users to pay for tabs mobily, without infringing on this patent?

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These claims seem specific to me also. There are most always many ways to solve a problem. In any method clam, if you leave out a step and do not replace it with an "equivalent" step you avoid infringement. There is a lot in the details.

If you want to be sure you are in the clear you also have a search done in this area. There are likely other patents in this space that you might run afoul off even if you avoid this one.

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