I was briefly looking at the patent 8438081 (Methods and Systems for Online Shopping) and don't quite understand its applicability. There are numerous successful companies that seem to have incorporated the technology (social network outfit sharing) that is being claimed here including Polyvore and Asos (two extremely successful companies).

Asos Outfit creation

Polyvore outfit creation Under the way the U.S. patent system works, are the claims in this patent interpreted so tightly and specifically that competitors can easily get around them? If this is the case, why would someone, in general, file a patent application that was easy to get around? I am an undergraduate computer science student at the University of Toronto doing a research project on software patents. Any prior art or explanation for this patent would be much appreciated.

Claim 1

  1. A method for managing an outfit over a network comprising:

    providing, over the network, a navigation of an electronic media source while simultaneously

    providing, over the network, a virtual closet widget representative of outfit data for display on at least one device;

    providing an activation component within the virtual closet widget to configure a panel for

    providing a selectable catalog of items that are configured to be added into the outfit data;

    in response to adding an item, providing a visual indication of the item on the virtual closet widget, wherein the item comprises at least one unset attribute for setting through the virtual closet; and

    wherein adding the item comprises receiving network data comprising a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) representative of the item and a configuration of the item within the outfit, wherein the URI is received from an electronic media source other than an electronic media source displaying the virtual closet widget, and wherein the URI is provided in the electronic media source as a link attached to a multimedia item representative of the item or outfit.

  • Welcome to Ask Patents! You may have reached this site from a "discuss this patent" link at google patents but the patent document number in question was not put into your post. You can edit your question to add that number. I am going to edit your question slightly to make it on-topic here. We have two allowed topics. One is requests for searching prior art and the other is "how does the U.S. patent system work."
    – George White
    Mar 12, 2014 at 0:10

1 Answer 1


I have added the wording of claim 1 to the question. In order to be directly infringing a patent someone, without the patentee's permission, needs to do all of the steps listed in at least one of the claims - assuming it is a method claim.

It may be that these companies do not do all of these steps, or that one or both has licensed the patent from the patentee. If you look at this patent in google patents you will see the current owner is a company called Retail Royalty. You will also see a list of dozens of things (patents, patent applications & articles) the applicant and the USPTO acknowledge as being in the general area and happening before this application was filed.

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