HELP SAVE MOBILE PURCHASES - This application from Apple seeks to patent a method for purchasing a product in a store using a smartphone! Help narrow US patent applications before they become patents HERE

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before Nov, 2011 that discusses:

  1. Using a mobile device to obtain a product identifier of a product in a store (e.g., a UPC code); and
  2. On a mobile device, receiving the product price from a server; transmitting a purchase request to a server; and receiving a purchase confirmation from a server;

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

EXTRA CREDIT - A reference to anything that meets all of the criteria to the question above AND ALSO uses an image taken by the camera on the device to determine the product identifier (e.g. a UPC code or any other product identifier).


Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A method for purchasing a product in a store using a mobile phone. The user’s mobile phone sends a product identifier for a product offered for sale in a store to a server somewhere. The mobile phone receives product information including the price of the product from the server. The mobile phone sends a purchase request including digital credentials (of any kind) to identify the user. The mobile device receives a confirmation from the server and presents a confirmation to the user that the product has been purchased.

  • Publication Number: US 20130110678 A1
  • Application Number: 13/555,753
  • Assignee: Apple, Inc
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating November, 2011
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through Nov 2, 2013

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A method for purchasing a product by a customer operating a customer mobile device, the method comprising:

  1. Obtaining, by the customer mobile device, a product identifier for a product offered for sale in a store;

  2. Transmitting, by the customer mobile device, the product identifier to a store server associated with the store;

  3. Receiving, by the customer mobile device, product information from the store server, the product information including a price of the product;

  4. Presenting to the customer, by the customer mobile device, at least some of the received product information, including the price of the product;

  5. Receiving, by the customer mobile device, customer purchasing input, the customer purchasing input including a digital credential for the customer, the digital credential being usable to access a user account record that stores financial account information for a financial account of the customer, the user account record being maintained at an account data server;

  6. Transmitting, by the customer mobile device, a purchase request to the store server, the purchase request including the digital credential, wherein the store server uses the digital credential to obtain the financial account information and uses the financial account information to charge the price of the product to the financial account of the customer;

  7. Receiving, by the customer mobile device, a purchase confirmation from the store server, the purchase confirmation indicating that the product has been purchased by the customer; and

  8. Presenting to the customer, by the customer mobile device, a confirmation message confirming that the purchase transaction for the product has successfully completed.

In English this means:

  1. Using a phone to obtain a product identifier (e.g. a UPC code) identifying a product in a store
  2. Phone sends the product identifier to a server
  3. Phone receives information about the product identified, including the price
  4. Phone displays price of product to the user
  5. Customer indicates intent to purchase and provides user information
  6. Phone sends the purchase request to the server
  7. Phone receives confirmation of purchase; and
  8. Phone confirms product has been purchased with the user.

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to the November, 2011.

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming a method using all of the steps above and including camera phone to capture an image of the product identifier (presumably rather than having the user type it in). Extra credit would include systems that do all of the steps above and also involve a cameraphone.

"Welcome to Our Store" screen shots 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.

10 Answers 10


I think this about covers it. There is even a video that shows each part of it.


Article dated: Oct 27, 2010

AisleBuyer believes it can make the in-store experience more like its online counterpart. Its recently launched iPhone app enables customers to scan product bar codes for further information, reviews, and coupons. They can add items to their carts as they shop and check out with a click before they leave the store.

The app draws its data from the store's website, ...

(the App creators website does not exist any more, however the listed CEO's Twitter page is linked http://twitter.com/andrewparadise and may be a good direct source for further info.

Here is a link to the internet archive for the site from December of 2010: http://web.archive.org/web/20101208070301/http://aislebuyer.com/


Amazon's App?

Nov 2010 http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/1899820/amazon-goes-store-sales-barcode-scanner-app-video

Using the app consumers can scan a product barcode, photograph a product, or say its name into their handset to access instant pricing information. They can then purchase the item through Amazon's one-click ordering system within the app. The company says the offering is designed to give consumers an easy way to access online alternatives when shopping in-store.

Jan 2011 http://downloadsquad.switched.com/2011/01/27/amazon-uk-launches-android-app-with-barcode-scanning-and-1-click/

You can also scan barcodes when you're in a shop, and the app will show you how much each item costs on Amazon. Making a purchase is a painless, 1-click process from both Amazon and Marketplace seller listings.

  • 1
    I think this is a really good example. The only thing the patent tries to do different is to help the shop-owner be the one to sell something. However, the Amazon app has been helpful to do every step above, except from closing the sale with the shop owner, but with Amazon obviously. Did that multiple times before, works perfectly. Then again - the way I read the patent that is only a very implied part of the process anyway. +1 :)
    – Theuni
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 19:31
  • Yep. Amazon's does allow the close of a sale with an affiliate. Some affiliates like B&H Photo have physical stores. The, "oh I just ordered this on my phone and would like to pick it up now" conversation could follow. I am sure Amazon would be more than willing to add all stores as affiliates ;-)
    – jlujan
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 19:50
  • Note that the patent doesn't even talk about "pick-up at the store". It only says that I get a confirmation presented. And I do get this with Amazon. :)
    – Theuni
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 19:54

Complete integrated self-checkout system and method US 6507279, June 6, 2003

Seems seminal in that over 50 later patents cite it. I do not see it on the IDS already submitted by Apple.

From abstract

An integrated self-checkout system and method incorporates . . . and pricing to be directed to a specific individual. The customer uses either a cell phone or . . . when in the store, which displays prices and/or advertisements

. From detailed description

The system can further have the following subsystems. Article identification subsystem, such as RFID, bar code scanner or other mechanism to identify articles selected by the member for purchase.

Actually completing the sale is mentioned but not in much detail.


US patent 6595417

Published Jul 22, 2003 Filing date May 17, 2002 Priority date Jun 26, 1996

A system and method for an information system for use by customers in a retail shopping environment are provided. The system includes a host computer and a portable terminal for use by a customer. The portable terminal is located within a retail environment and interacts with the host computer to access product information. A customer enters a request for product information via an input device. The portable terminal then transmits the customer request and receives the product information from the host computer. A processor is employed for generating a request or query related to the received product information; and both the product information and additional query information is then displayed to the customer.


A marketing guide by CTIA from 2009 gives detail on how to use this technology to market: http://files.ctia.org/pdf/CTIA_Final_Code_Scan_Mktg_Guide.pdf


Consumer Reports's Consumerist.com described how to buy from Sears' online in-store pickup while standing in the Sears store...



Tesco, in Korea had this QR Code based shopping in Subways. Telegraph report dated June 2012 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/8601147/Tesco-builds-virtual-shops-for-Korean-commuters.html

Youtube video of the same dated Jun 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaVFRzTTP4



Similar system tried out in boston area in 2005.


I'm still looking for patents before this date but just to contribute, maybe would be good to send the findings of the current Prior Art Request also to the patents listed below.

These ones are related to the topic and the findings can be reused:

  • US 20130153655 A1: Self service retail check out using smart phone (filed Dec 15, 2011)
  • WO 2012151163 A1 (from Ebay): Barcode checkout at point of sale (filed Apr 27, 2012)

Hope to help with this related patents. Please correct me if there is a more appropriate place to send this kind of related information.


RedLaser owned by eBay does all of this I believe: http://redlaser.com/application/

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