The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 34 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our first granted patent report of the day we cover Apple's four new design wins covering a docking station and three iOS elements. Yet the big surprise this morning is for an all-new invention relating to user security while shopping online. This is the second such surprise within a year. The first one we covered discussed a new Anti-Big Brother surveillance system. This appears to be a part of a huge project at Apple that may be a part of a future iWallet application.
Apple Granted Patent for Anonymous Shopping Transactions on a Network through Information Broker Services
As we note at the bottom of this report, only about 1% of granted patents are attributed to new inventions. The exceptions usually point to Apple acquiring a patent and in this case it may very well fit that bill. Apple has been granted a patent today for an invention relating to a system and method for carrying out anonymous shopping and other on-line transactions over a network through the use of information broker services.
Apple's Granted Patent Background
The rise in the popularity of interconnected, processor-based networks, such as the Internet, has increased the practice of on-line shopping. The increase of on-line shopping has made it possible for consumers to purchase goods and services with ease. Often, consumers are able to purchase items from the convenience of their own home at any hour of the day.
However, in order to complete an on-line transaction, users are typically required to submit personal, confidential, or otherwise private information over the network to the on-line merchant. Once submitted, the information may be intercepted or otherwise accessed by unintended or unauthorized persons. Obviously, this is an undesirable result. Thus, it is desirable to carry out on-line transactions without needlessly endangering private information.
For example, buyers are typically required to submit a credit card number to the on-line merchant in order to pay for the desired goods or services. However, submitting a credit card number over the network opens the possibility that the credit card number will fall into the wrong hands and unauthorized charges may result.
Buyers are also asked to provide their legal names (usually as it appears on the credit card account). For numerous reasons, buyers may not want to provide their real name over the network. For example, for safety reasons, women living alone may not want to provide their real names. Similarly, buyers may not want to provide their home address when purchasing items on-line. These and other drawbacks exist.
Apple's Future Solution
One advantage of the invention is that it overcomes these and other drawbacks in existing devices. Another advantage is that the invention provides a system and method for enabling consumers to shop on-line without having to reveal personal information.
Another advantage is that the invention provides a system and method for using an information broker service to disguise a user's personal information and enable the user to accomplish on-line shopping in an anonymous fashion.
According to one aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for enabling a user to transact an anonymous on-line transaction, wherein a form of on-line payment is requested at a transaction interface. The method may include providing an anonymous user interface that enables a user to initiate an on-line payment, accessing a first profile comprising user data when the user activates the form of on-line payment, generating a second profile linked to the first profile wherein, the second profile comprises anonymous data, and communicating the anonymous data from the second profile to the transaction interface to enable completion of the transaction.
According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for enabling a user to transact an anonymous on-line transaction, wherein a form of on-line payment is requested at a transaction interface. The system may include an anonymous user interface that enables a user to initiate an on-line payment, a profile access initiator that accesses a first profile comprising user data when the user activates the form of on-line payment, a profile generator that generates a second profile linked to the first profile wherein, the second profile comprises anonymous data, and an anonymous data communicator that communicates the anonymous data from the second profile to the transaction interface to enable completion of the transaction.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 is a schematic of an anonymous shopping interface.
This is Apple's second granted surprise patent regarding a method to assist users to remain anonymous while shopping. The first surprise came in June 2012. Our report covering that granted patent was titled "Apple Wins Surprising Anti-Big Brother Surveillance Patent." It would appear that Apple is working on a new consumer protection application for some time in the future.
Apple credits Kelly Sonderegger, Russell Young, John Robertson and Arn Perkins as the inventors of this granted patent which was filed for by Apple in Q2 2011 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The inventors don't appear to be Apple engineers. To review today's granted patent claims and details, see US Number 8,386,333.
Apple Granted Four Design Patents Today
It's Granted Patent Day
Readers should be aware that every Tuesday the US Patent and Trademark Office publish Apple's Granted Patents. Granted patents are approved patent applications that Apple applied for months or even years ago. In the vast majority of cases, "granted patents" aren't covering any new kind of technology on the day the patent is being granted. New Apple technologies are generally revealed on Thursdays by the US Patent Office in the form of published patent applications. Some Mac sites confuse this process by making claims and presenting bylines on Tuesday that insinuate that Apple has just revealed a new technology or process. In 99% of cases, this is simply untrue and readers should be made aware of this fact. Known exceptions would include patents that were recently acquired by Apple or a domestic and/or foreign patent application that Apple had never presented in the US before under its own brand name.
Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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