There are several patents out there like this: you buy a beer, on this bottle is an individual code, you can use this code on the campaign website to win a price or get a voucher e.g for an online shop.

AOL (America Online) did this since 1992, you all know these CD-Roms, right? ;) The already did it with 3.5inch disks, you have a code and depending on the code you get a certain amount of free online hours. Let's call it rebate ;)

Is this prior art for a patent like this one?

US 2004/0172327 (PCT/DE02/02565, priority date 2001-07-17): Method for providing reductions on products and/or services

1. Method for granting rebates on products and/or services, characterized in that

  • an information carrier is made accessible to a customer at the purchase of a product and/or in connection with receiving services, which carrier contains information about the amount of a rebate issued to him/her for the purchase of the product or for receiving the service, in coded form, and/or about the product or the service,
  • that the information of the information carrier is fed into a telecommunication device and transmitted to a central administration unit by way of a telecommunication network, by means of the telecommunication device,
  • that the customer automatically receives credit for the value of the rebate on the product or the service, in the administration unit, for telecommunication services or other data technology services, free of charge to the customer, which the customer can make use of immediately and/or with a time delay, by means of telecommunication devices, by way of technical facilities made available by the central administration unit, whereupon the rebate that was granted expires.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Jan 1997 http://books.google.com/books?id=aAcEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA136&lpg=PA136&dq=online+rebate&source=bl&ots=1tAKHdbd4z&sig=WL-HEog8sppxb1BQ2rqsUD_yDG0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JxZjUMPLEOr30gGXqYDQBw&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=online%20rebate&f=false

Prior art - article on rebates given by major credit cards/banks, describes the method as posted above.

The card enrollment and/or mailer included the card "rebate" information (the information carrier).

The charge (swipe, at time of purchase) is transmitted over telecommunication lines by telecommunication devices, to a central administration unit (the bank).

Customer (cardholder) would receive the prescribed rebate automatically by the administration unit (the bank), free of charge for that rebate, which the customer would make use of as appropriate to the offer provided.

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