enter image description here

This Patent Application received a non-final rejection by the US Patent Office! An initial rejection is part of the typical course of a patent application.

The rejection was based in part on prior art found by Ask Patents community below!

AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON collaborative virtual shopping - This application from IBM seeks to patent the idea of...individuals shopping together online! 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 2/13/2012 that discusses:

  • individuals shopping together online with multiple shopping carts

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 sharing information between users, such as shopping lists, price lists, or item comparisons between users

TITLE: Collaborative virtual shopping

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A system for shopping together online. Users participate in a collaborative shopping session using multiple virtual shopping carts and share information with one another

  • Publication Number: US 20130211953 A1
  • Application Number: US 13/372,493
  • Assignee: IBM
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 2/13/2012
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through 2/11/2014

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A system for collaborative shopping, comprising

  1. A plurality of shopping devices interconnected by a network, the shopping devices being used by shoppers in a collaborative shopping session; and

  2. A plurality of virtual shopping carts respectively associated with the shopping devices for sharing information on items of interest among the shoppers and enabling the shoppers to collaborate on the shopping

In English this means:

A system for shopping together online, comprising:

  1. Devices (e.g. computers or smartphones or fancy in-store shopping carts) connected together by a network, used by shoppers in a collaborative shopping session

  2. Virtual shopping carts associated with each device for sharing information between shoppers (e.g. price lists, shopping lists, comparisons, etc.)

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 2/13/2012

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming sharing information between users, such as shopping lists, price lists, or comparisons between shopping cart items.

"Collaborative Virtual Shopping 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.

  • 3
    I'm not sure, but Amazon's Wish List feature basically handles this, doesn't it? amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/… undoing this "Don't spoil my surprises" feature would allow for this I believe. Can't find date of release, but here's a Yahoo! Answers item on it from 4 years ago: answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100121194756AA2DeN0
    – Robert
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 20:53
  • My wife and I share a Prime account, and get all of this functionality already.
    – 3Dave
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 0:09
  • I don't get it. My mom and her friend used to go to a physical store each with their own shopping cart. Then, when they see something interesting, they chat about it. Sometimes one added items she saw in his friend's cart. This patent application is about doing that... on the Internet? I heard claiming novelty just by doing something on the Internet was a weak argument. I got it wrong?
    – ArturoTena
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 16:39

8 Answers 8


So, a "plurality of shopping devices" (read: ordinary PCs with Web browsers pointed to the e-commerce website), with a "plurality of shopping carts" (read: one shopping cart per PC). That part is pretty obvious, since it was already the normal mode of e-commerce in the dot-com era.

The claim of novelty thus seems to hinge on one PC's shopping cart being visible to the (authorised) user of another PC. There is no claim that this visibility is in real-time. It could therefore be covered by a simple "e-mail this cart" function, which certainly also predates this patent application.

The only problem is that I can't reliably remember precise which sites I noticed having the feature and when.


This sounds like it's covered by existing online co-buying / social commerce systems. These systems don't offer options to cross over between physical store shopping and online shopping but I guess the issue here is the claim isn't specific enough and doesn't mention that?

If that's correct then there was an online offering called Letsbuyit.com that had collaborative shopping over 10 years ago. As a shopper you'd visit the site and say which products you wanted and you'd see how many other people wanted them. The more customers that wanted something the cheaper the price became. I can't find references in English unfortunately, only in German, which dates it to 1999: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letsbuyit.com and http://www.welt.de/print-welt/article590920/Gemeinsam-kaufen-gemeinsam-sparen.html

It looks like buyapowa are doing something similar and have been going at least since September 2011: http://www.buyapowa.biz/ and http://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/sep/29/co-buyer-websites-discounts

They also have a request list that is shared between users that you can add to and vote on.

  • I know at least Staples allows business accounts to "save an order" - anyone else with the business account can log in and finish/update/modify the order. Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 13:51

Creative Labs had this in 2003 by storing the data in the database and you could use the same account to modify the same cart on different systems.

Not documented because it is such a simple thought when using database storage.


Foodler's Group Order system allows many users to share an order, adding their own selections to the create a final single order. A user can participate in several concurrent group orders http://www.foodler.com/order/startGroup.do?restId=6219


Delivery.com has had "Group Ordering" since at least November 9th, 2011.


Boeing has an in-house system that allows for collaborative shopping. People add their supply requests to a shopping cart. a manager approves the list. someone else then reviews the list and forwards it to the vendors.

In other words, a shopping cart list is created, multiple people review that list and can modify it. a B2B connection then places the order.

They have had this system for many years. I'm sure that many companies have similar systems.


Official USPTO Prior Art

This Patent Application received a non-final rejection by the US Patent Office! The rejection was based in part on prior art found by Ask Patents community in this answer!

Sounds a lot like the amazon wishlist. And I found a lot of articles and blog entries about this amazon feature predating 2011.

http://www.amazon.com/wishlist You can add text descriptions, for example a URI to an other online shop item, to your wishlist also ("Include items from any website").


You can't patent shopping together with friends. Online or off. I'm pretty sure. If you could, my wife would be very upset.

  • Welcome to Ask Patents! This type of humorous post is fine as a comment, but we want Answer posts to propose an answer to the question.
    – George White
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 7:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .