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Apple Introduces us to "Gifting" iTunes Purchases via NFC

1 - Apple Introduces us to Gifting iTunes Purchases via NFC
On April 26, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that introduces us to gifting iTunes purchases via NFC or email. Apple's patent generally relates to digital media content and electronic devices being configured to transfer information from one user's account to another user's account. Apple will also allow users to share iTunes Playlists – though at a cost being that it's in context with "gifting," as Apple calls it. It sounds like a great idea and it should be available when NFC based iDevices finally debut.  


Apple's Patent Background


In recent years, the declining popularity of audio cassette tapes and compact discs in conjunction with the growing popularity of electronic devices capable of playing various forms of digital media content has led to a dramatic increase in the demand for downloadable digital media content. Many such digital media player devices, particular portable devices, are currently available on the market and support a wide variety of file formats that digital media files might take. For instance, downloadable digital music files are commonly provided in the following file formats, just to provide a few examples: MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC, etc.


Thus, as a result of market demands, various online digital media providers have been established and currently exist as a retailer for downloadable digital media content. Often times, downloaded media content may be received directly on a digital media player device and immediately played back, listened to, or viewed by a user of the device. In other instances, the downloaded media content may be received on a desktop computer and subsequently transferred to a digital media player for playback. To provide one example, an online digital media provider offering the above mentioned services may be the iTunes online service, operated by Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.


While the download of digital media files directly to digital media player devices from an online digital media content provider may offer a convenient and simple solution to store various digital media files in a common location for playback on demand, the transfer of such files between individuals is often times problematic due to the nature of copyright protection.


For example, downloadable digital media content may be protected using a variety of digital rights management techniques, which may generally refer to access control methods used by device manufacturers, content publishers/providers, and copyright holders in order to limit usage and distribution of digital media content. This ensures that the copyright holder's rights are honored and that the copyright holder is compensated for each sale of a copyrighted digital work. Thus, the transfer of a copyright protected digital media file from one device to a separate receiving device may oftentimes result in the transferred file being unplayable or inaccessible on the receiving device.


Apple's Introduces "Gifting" Downloadable Media Files via NFC


Apple's invention generally relates to various techniques for gifting downloadable media files provided by an online digital media provider between multiple electronic devices. In accordance with one embodiment, a first device may initiate a gifting process by selecting one or more media files to be gifted to a receiving device. For example, in initiating the gifting the process, the user of the initiating device may authorize a gift charge to be applied to the user's account associated with the online digital media provider. Thereafter, a gift offer may be transmitted from the initiating device to the receiving device using a close range communication protocol, such as near-field communication (NFC) connection. The receiving device, upon receiving the offer, may transmit an acceptance message using the NFC connection, in which the receiver's account information associated with the online digital media provider is included and transferred to the initiating device.


Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a schematic representation depicting the use of NFC based iPhone to purchase one or more media files from iTunes.


2 - NFC iPhone purchasing items for Gifting


Patent FIG. 7 is a schematic representation illustrating the gifting of the purchased media file.


3 - schematic illustrating the Gifting of the purchased media file


The initiating device may then transmit a gift request to the online digital media provider. The online digital media provider may then process the gift request to charge the initiator's account for the gifting of the selected file. Thereafter, a gift file may be created using the receiver's digital media protection keys, such as a DRM key, such the gift file may be authorized for playback on the receiving device in accordance with copyright regulations. The gift file may then be downloaded to the receiving device, upon which the user of the receiving device may playback the gifted file. In one implementation, the gift file may be created by a server operated by the online digital media provider. In other implementations, the online digital media provider may provide the receiver's DRM key to the initiating device and the initiating device may be delegated the task of generating the gift file.


"Gifting" Downloadable Media Files via Email  


The present techniques also provide for the gifting of media files where the initiating and receiving devices are in remote locations, such as by using electronic gift certificates generated by the initiating device and sent by an e-mail communication to the receiving device. The electronic gift certificate may then be redeemed by the receiving device with the online digital media provider, after which the selected gift file corresponding to the electronic gift certificate may be downloaded to the receiving device. The present techniques further provide for the gifting of multiple media files in a single transaction, as well as the customization and personalization of such gifts.


4 - Gifting downloadable media files via email


Other Gifting Related Screenshots of Processes & Options


Apple's patent FIG. 11C shows a plurality of screenshots illustrating a method by which the giftee device may approve a payment for the gifted media file if the gifter's payment account cannot be charged.


5 - One illustrated Method of Gifting Payments


Apple's patent FIG. 10A below shows us a plurality of screen images that may be displayed on the giftee device illustrating a method for initiating the gifting process of FIG. 7 above; patent FIG. 10B shows us a plurality of screen images depicting the transmission of gifting information from the gifter device to the giftee device using a communication path in accordance with the gifting process depicted in FIG. 7 (which relates to two NFC based iDevices tapping together to make the transfer).


6 - Method for initiating the gifting process of FIG. 7


Apple's patent FIGS. 20A shows us a plurality of screen images that may be displayed on the giftee device depicting a process for redeeming the electronic gift certificate with the online service and receiving a gift file.


7 - images that may be displayed on the giftee device


Apple's patent FIGS. 21B shows us a plurality of screen images depicting various techniques for personalizing a playlist having a plurality of media files to be gifted to a giftee device.


8 Technique for personalizing a playlist to be gifted to a giftee Device


Patent Credits


Apple's patent application credits inventors Gloria Lin, Amir Mikhak, Taido Nakajima, Sean Mayo, Michael Rosenblatt and Andrew Hodge. The updated patent application was filed in December 2011. The original application filing was made in 2008. To review Apple's other NFC related inventions, see our NFC Archives.



Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


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I think this is a fantastic idea. I dont think many people quite understand how this is going to work. But i wish i was invited to the 2012 WWDC this year I saved money for the conference. I would have love to test the iPhone.

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