AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON PROMOTION WITH DIGITAL CONTENT - This application from eBay seeks to patent the idea of... providing digital content to users to visit a physical store! 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 Dec 21, 2011 that discusses:

  1. Offering digital content to a user as a promotion to visit a physical store; and
  2. Checks whether the user visits the physical store and then provides the digital content to the user?

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question.. 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 involves providing free e-Books, loyalty programs, or requiring user to purchase something at the store to get the digital content.


Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A method of providing digital content to users as an incentive to get them to visit a physical store.

  • Publication Number: US 20130166369 A1
  • Application Number: 13/333,170
  • Assignee: eBay, Inc.
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating Dec 21, 2011
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through Dec 27, 2013

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A method for providing a promotion to a user to do commerce at a physical location, the method comprising:

  1. offering a right to a particular piece of digital content to the user as an incentive to a commercial transaction that occurs at least partly at the physical location;

  2. discerning that the user is located at the physical location; and

  3. in response to the discerning, interacting with the user to provide the digital content to the user on a mobile device associated with the user.

In English this means:

A method for providing promotion to a user to buy something at a physical store, comprising:

  1. Offering the digital content to the user an incentive to visit a physical store

  2. Recognizing the user is at the physical store; and

  3. Providing the digital content to the user on a mobile device.

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

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming providing free e-Books, loyalty programs, or requiring user to purchase something at the store to get the digital content.

"Showing a user at a physical location receiving digital content" from eBay

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.

4 Answers 4


This was being done in 2010 as seen in NY Times article below as well as others via foursquare and facebook places:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/business/smallbusiness/07sbiz.html?pagewanted=all (Oct. 2010)

http://www.empowermm.com/blog1/social-media/make-the-most-out-of-check-in-promotions/ (Oct. 2011)

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/the-future-of-geolocation-what-is-coming/ (April 2011)

http://www.turnerpr.com/blog/2010/07/battle-of-the-geolocation-all-stars/ (June 2010)

The digital content would be coupons or specials delivered by email, interactive digital maps, digital badges or pins.

The broad number of hits returned in 2010 for a "geolocation promotion" query shows that the idea is both obvious and not novel.

A graphic in this article from 2009 describes using geolocation in connection with retail promotions:


  • That was my first thought as well, that's exactly what 4sq does. Jul 25, 2013 at 8:15

This isn't exactly the same, but similar.

Nintendo's spotpass feature has digital benefits for visiting physical locations


  • There's also the Nintendo DS Download Stations which date back to early 2006 that provided a very similar service: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DS_Download_Station
    – AndrewPK
    Jul 25, 2013 at 13:49
  • Yeah, I think that's what I was thinking of (getting things from the download stations), but SpotPass was the only name of something I could come up with. Thanks @AndrewPK
    – McKay
    Jul 25, 2013 at 14:07


Apple's Passbook Patent ("INTEGRATED COUPON STORAGE, DISCOVERY, AND REDEMPTION SYSTEM") claims seem to cover very similar ground based on proximity to a physical location and digital distribution of offers or promotional 'coupons' you may or may not already have requested. Section [0040] specifically covers loyalty/rewards programs and 'offered' deals that may not have been directly requested by the user or given to the user prior to them arriving at the physical location.


I found something: looks like a more generic patent filed in Feb 16, 2001. See the claim highlight below:

Claims :

1. A method of providing competitive advertisements to a mobile communication device comprising: determining a geographic location of said mobile communication device;

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