I built a mobile application reverse auction where for 60 seconds the price of an item falls and multiple users have the chance to enter to buy this item. The first person to enter wins the item.

Initially I was under the impression that you couldn't patent a reverse auction because it has been around of hundreds of years but I found a company that claimed to have patented a reverse auction that is the same as mine.

Here is the patent I found, I would love to know if my product would infringe on their patent?



As pointed out by George White, this is an application, not a patent. It may or may not ever get granted and even if it does get granted, it is likely the claims may be changed. That said, upon a cursory review, it doesn't look like the auction itself is being claimed, rather a specific implementation of a computer system to conduct the auction. Here is the first claim:

  1. A method of conducting a reverse auction for an audience of subscriber users, the subscriber users each having a user device adapted for communication with and control by a remote auction server adapted to host the reverse auction, the method comprising :

    storing, on the server, a list of subscriber users;

    storing, on the server, reverse auction data comprising :

    an item subject to the reverse auction, an initial cost of the item subject to the reverse auction, a time when the reverse auction is due to commence;

    generating, on the server, a clock signal adapted to provide a time synchronisation signal;

    determining one or more live users from the list of subscriber users, creating a live user list of determined live users, then controlling the user device of each user on the live user list to display the reverse auction data;

    synchronising the user device of each live user with the server clock;

    commencing the reverse auction at the time the reverse auction is due to commence;

    detecting a user from the live user list has selected a first location on an interface of their user device corresponding to a button graphic, storing a list of participant users on the server as a subset of the live users, then notifying each participant user that they are eligible to participate in the reverse auction;

    controlling the user device of each live user to display a countdown time on the interface of each user device, synchronised with the server clock and associated with a time remaining in the reverse auction process;

    controlling the user device of each live user to display the cost of the item on the interface of each user device and decreasing the cost of the item based on the countdown time;

    controlling the user device of each live user to display a target graphic on the interface of each user device of at least each participant user and shown at a second location of the interface;

    detecting a dragging motion from the first location of the interface of a user device of a participant user to a second location;

    and determining the dragging motion has reached the second location, determining the clock time the dragging motion reached the second location then, ending the reverse auction.

I'm not an expert in this field and I am not a lawyer, but the claim is specific to implementing a server and clock signals to provide synchronization so I don't think this is a general business methods type of patent. I gather that computerized reverse auctions have existed for 20 years or more so I doubt it is particularly general. Indeed, it is quite a long claim with a lot of steps. Since you would need to implement each and every step to infringe on this claim, it strikes me as pretty narrow. Since you are trying to determine if your software potentially infringes on this application, you should probably review the cited prior art also.

  • @TheRapture87 Thanks. After some time to allow others to answer, it would be great if you would consider accepting the answer you feel is most helpful by clicking on the check mark. – Eric Shain Oct 6 '18 at 2:14

Yes, it does claim a computer-based method for conducting and auction. The document you refer to is the publication of a PCT patent application, not a granted patent.

Check for example this answer for more information on what that means.

  • I took the liberty to expand this a little, hope you don't mind. – DonQuiKong Oct 4 '18 at 7:48
  • Although it is true this is an application rather than a patent, it still would be useful to answer the question about whether the application is attempting to patent a type of auction. – Eric Shain Oct 4 '18 at 22:34

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