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AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON asking friends for advice while shopping - This application from Turnto Network seeks to patent the idea of...Displaying, to a user who is engaged in a commercial activity on an online site, information that is associated with another user of the online site, would normally be private to the other user, relates to the commercial activity of the user, and is controlled by the site! 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 1/2/2008 that discusses:

  • Users asking other users for shopping advice online

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.

EXTRA CREDIT - Transaction may include purchases of products, money-based transactions, retail, wholesale, business sales activities, lending, etc.

TITLE: Transaction information on online sites

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] Exposing, to a user who is engaged in a commercial activity on a commercial online site, information that is associated with one user of the commercial online site, would be private to the other user, relates to the commercial activity of the first user, and is controlled by the commercial online site.

  • Publication Number: US 20120233020 A1
  • Application Number: US 13/393,008
  • Assignee: Turnto Network
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 1/2/2008
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through 3/12/2013
  • Link to Google Prior Art Search - "Find Prior Art"

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A computer-implemented method comprising:

  1. exposing, to a user who is engaged in a commercial activity on a commercial online site, computer-stored information that

    • a. is associated with another user of the online site,

    • b. would otherwise be private to the other user,

    • c. relates to the commercial activity of the user, and

    • d. is controlled by the site.

In English this means:

A method comprising:

  1. Displaying, to a user who is engaged in a commercial activity on a commercial online site, a computer-stored information:

    • a. Associated with the another user of the online site,

    • b. Private to the other user,

    • c. Related to the Commercial activity of the user, and

    • d. Controlled by the site.

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 1/2/2008

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming Commercial activity includes shopping for a product or service


"Information transaction on online sites" from the Applicant


What is good prior art? Please see our FAQ.

Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.


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1 Answer 1

Here's the first article I found on social shopping prior to 2008: http://mashable.com/2007/08/08/social-shopping-2/ -- many of these sites would show individual names alongside a product (a) which, without such a feature, would indeed otherwise have been private (b). The idea of hooking this in via Facebook instead of just using the e-commerce site's own database seems to be the only thing unique about this patent, but even that is startlingly obvious.

The only reason everyone didn't do this on Day One of e-commerce / social networking was because it felt creepy and intrusive; not because it represented a novel invention. I'm sure there's a speech or paper written decades ago about how "in the future you'll be able to" do what this patent mentions, and more.

Indeed, the second article I found mentions this explicitly: "This may be the only way you shop for clothes in the future, by seeing what your friends and other people are wearing" http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/11/technology/11ecom.html?_r=0 -- Claim 1 doesn't mention the whole "ask friends for advice" thing, so I don't see how this is novel or non-obvious at all.

The third article I found even seems to mention "asking friends for advice" directly: "Users can create a profile, post questions and product review information to forums or even get gift ideas from fellow shoppers." http://www.bizreport.com/2006/11/sears_launches_social_shopping_site.html

Sorry, Turnto Network.

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