back to article Apple patent seeks to reinvent retail

Apple has filed a sweeping patent application for a technology suite designed to provide iPhone users with a broad range of real-time product information, special offers, sales opportunities, and related services in stores, restaurants, and other retail establishments. The filing also points to the inclusion of near-field …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Rob Crawford

    May I be the first one to shout


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns


      I'm guessing that, the obviousness of it all and the focus on business practices were why Apple needed an "unusually comprehensive 83-page filing." They're hoping they can sell the thing as a package deal.

      And in case it wasn't included in the filing, I have now devised a system to select which of the myriad products within range you were actually interested in. Feel free to point Apple over here when they try to patent that. It includes (but is not limited to) cool things like using signal strength, camera focus and a record of your interests, previous selections and web history, or just running the list through Google. ...And if it was in the filing, then that's one more indication of how obvious this crap is.

      "One example of a benefit that would be welcome to users with fading eyesight who have to break out a magnifying glass to read infinitesimal serial numbers"

      --Personally, I have more trouble with fading serial numbers.

    2. LaeMing Silver badge

      Does the US have a concept of prior art?

      I always got the impression they used the 'first snout in the trough' system over there.

      1. Thomas 18

        I believe its...

        First dossier to the patent office. Doesn't really matter what's going on in the real world. I wonder what percentage of these things get approved, FOIA request anyone?

  2. Gannon (J.) Dick
    Jobs Horns

    Start Now ....

    .... , Master this new Innovation, and in a few short years you will be standing in the rain all night to buy the new iPhone. At least we hope so.


  3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    Add to it...


    If Apple gets this approved, its yet another massive fail of the USPTO.

    Why couldn't the supremes get it right and nullify software patents?

  4. geejayoh


    I cannot believe this hasn't been patented already. I said this would be a good idea to a friend like 5 years ago. Didn't microsoft's big ass table incorporate reading RFID off of products when you put it down? Did they not patent that?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Both my N97 and TyTN comes with an application does just that. Certain magazines, video games, TV shows, pop up a barcode screen of sorts, and you take a picture of the code using the app. The app then decodes the code, loads up the browser and takes you to a website to download some niceties or trailers or something. At least, it's supposed to work that way. I don't know, I often get an error either saying that I'm not in the intended region or that the promotion is over, or more often than not, the domain just failing to resolve.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So you scan a barcode on a product and you can find out information

    Like, I dunno, price, and description. That's amazingly like how my local supermarket has been working for the last 25 years.

  6. James O'Brien


    Don't Android based phones/devices already have the ability to do this with those funky barcodes found on items? Or the ability to take a picture of a book (for ex) and give you results based off the cover? Could be wrong here but pretty sure the phone in my hand is giving me information on Redhat 5 based off the picture of the book I just took.....

    1. Rob Crawford

      Not only android

      A workmate was in Japan years ago and the japanese shoppers where reading the barcodes to get nutritional info regarding products.

      In some cases scanning the barcodes even took the shopper to a site showing the farm where the products where sourced from.

  7. ratfox Silver badge

    The hell you do

    "We give examples (which may or may not have prior art), but the list is not complete. Which means: any idea that has not explicitly been used or patented yet belongs to us."

    I will put a patent on "cool stuff like personal space ships and time travel." The list is not exclusive. From now on, anybody with a new cool idea will have to pay me royalties.

    And THIS is what patent lawyer use to sue companies??

  8. Anonymous Coward


    I like the graph on "the economist" Is that the IQ of people in the patent office?

  9. heyrick Silver badge

    Which part of this...

    ...has not already been available on a decent Japanese phone for years? I mean, didn't they stop to consider things like what the QR code is actually used for in the real world?

    The danger is, however, if this broad submission gets approval, it will likely be used to armwrestle an even broader purpose.

  10. Neoc


    I could have sworn the Japanese were already doing most of that (including the movie and newspaper article bit using 2D barcodes)

  11. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    Dumb US Patents System

    Most people call this shopping, As others have pointed out Apple is just trolling looking foe future income. Many of the things described are available, and implemented, already.

    Given Apples prowess with Radio Frequency techniques and antennae/aerials it will never work.

    And what if two or more people are using their iCraps co-located in a supermarket aisle? How will the shelf technology be able to direct suggested recipes to the correct iCrap device?

    Obviously another Jobs wet dream.

    Next they will be patenting gestures.

    1. Frank Bough


      how long did it take you to come up with that zinger?

      1. Black Betty

        Well for me it was about 2 seconds after "iPoo",

        which was about 2 seconds after the release of the afforementioned product.

        This Apple fanboi jumped ship after the //c when he figured out which way the wind was blowing.

        The ONLY proprietary hardware I ever had time for was the Vax 11 series. (Fell in love with the totally orthogonal assembly language.)

    2. Rob Crawford

      to keep up with the travel theme

      I'm going to patent feet and wheels

      Oh bugger it I will just patent circles in general then I sue that smug moon that looks down at me.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Someone find some prior art, quick!

    And send it to the USPTO, god knows they won't bother doing any research themselves, the lazy rubber stamping dickheads.

  14. Pascal Dornier

    I contain paint.

    May I suggest the timeless story "A can of Paint" by A.E. van Vogt as prior art ?

  15. Stephen Booth

    It will never work

    I can see why this looks attractive to Apple. Lots of new features that you can only get if you have an iphone but I fail to see the advantage to retailers and product manufactures who would have to carry the recurrent costs.

    * Lots of expensive new features that only some of your customers have the right phone to use.

    * Advertising etc. only accessible to members of the public who are already holding one of your products in their hands (not a key target demographic).

    Existing phone apps that scan/read barcodes and chips that exist for other purposes are fine because they add value to the phone at minimal extra cost. Telling the retail trade to choose a technology because it would let phones do something funky is just arrogant.

  16. Andy Barker

    Pranav Mistry SixthSense device

    Sounds very much like this...

  17. Eden

    Prior Art...

    Yes all that's been done, I've got apps for all that on my Blackberry.

    Not that any of that means anything to the USPO, I expect it to be passed and the law suits to flow post haste.

    I wonder if they will issue take downs to all POS terminals across the US for violating their patents by using bar code scanners =p

  18. Coldhand

    another joke

    This is yet another pathetic patent from Apply! So many non-Apple products have these so called 'NFC'. Next Apple will be attempting to patent the fact the phone makes phone calls by pressing on the touch-sensitive screens (unless they've already done it?).

    Microsoft Surface does have rfid and Bluetooth communication that communicates with the system, picks the item up and registers to the surface so users can interact.

    Androids definitely has an application to pick up the barcode and from its database, it would display the details of that particular scanned barcode.

    Lawsuit coming right up around the corner!

  19. RichardO

    Google shopper?

    Seems to me that my Android phone already does most of this.... barcode reader app + google shopper. And Shopper even gives UK prices these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: another joke

      "Microsoft Surface does have rfid and Bluetooth communication that communicates with the system, picks the item up and registers to the surface so users can interact."

      Microsoft also tried to patent "turning a page electronically, using a gesture" the other day. So it looks like it's going to be a feeding frenzy for lawyers over the next few years.

  20. Joey


    There's already an app for that - Red Laser - and it works pretty well! I've just scanned the barcode on an obscure book of Chords for Jazz guitar, which just happened to be on my desk, and it identified it perfectly. Supermarkets are not too happy about you scanning their products or taking photos of their shop displays!

  21. Matt Bradley

    There's already an app for that

  22. D@v3

    there's an App for that

    There are already iPhone Apps that can read and retrieve information from bar codes,matrix codes and the like.

    What we need for this to really work is for manufacturers to include these on their products.

  23. Daniel 1

    Love Apple patent applications...

    They always look like a particularly complicated cartoon off the XKCD website.

    I feel there should be a picture of the Andromeda Galaxy in one corner, or a stick man labeled "Issac Einstein" saying something obtuse...

    1. DryBones


      When's the last time you looked at a book, or anything you buy in the grocery store again?

      If you were being facetious, I'm going to have to cite you for lack of wink.

  24. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Great Idea...

    I think this is a fantastic idea and I really do hope that crApple get this patent. on a "System and method for providing content associated with a product or service", which they will probably be call the iSmpcapos service (pronounced I-swamp-crap-os) or spam as most normal people call it.

    Look at the advantages of crApple getting this patent, their lawyers will spend all their time suing spammers and won't be able to take out any more stupid patents.


  25. Luke McCarthy

    Is that what I think it is?

    Is that a VCR?

  26. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    The other shoe drops...

    First they want to GPS track you and let all their partners have the information. Now they want to incorporate reading and using tractable RFID into buying and selling. Consider other corporations want to use RFID in the tagging and tracking you I have to say Apple has come out with another piece of the puzzle in the overall larger plan for us. NO, I will not be tracked or be expected to use or carry tracking RFID chips on my person that can be read by multitudes of devices or be EXPECTED to carry and use such devices in order to read RFIDs to get prices on products or to buy them. I will NOT buy products that use this technology.

  27. Tron


    All that effort so fanbois can Applewank at the checkout in Waitrose.

  28. Bod
    Jobs Horns

    Prior art

    Nokia have been playing with this kind of work for a while now (even if it isn't particularly selling), and then you have the likes of Visa who are investing in mobile->NFC->shopping integration (on top of their NFC credit cards).

    Apple probably want to drive manufacturers and stores to tag with their patented tags that only iPhones can read.

  29. Mr Brush

    So much prior art...

    Google Googles, countless barcode apps, Microsoft's own square code thingy that never took off.

    I'm guessing that NFC stands for 'No-one F**king Cares'.

    1. Rob Crawford

      What about

      Applecare but it costs 140 quid for 3 years (even then they're faking it)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    this is a ridiculous swathe of ideas that people have already had and discussed at large elsewhere - and some have even partially implemented.

    i wonder if Apple had to rush this out the door after hearing that all future Nokia devices would have the nearfield communications technology built into them?

    Apple for the LOSE again

  31. batfastad
    Jobs Horns

    QR codes?

    Kind of like the way QR codes can operate.

    Just starting to take off over here but they've been in widespread use in Japan for a couple of years now. Having said that, not actually used them with my HTC Desire.

  32. Displacement Activity

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    I can't be arsed to actually look at the application, but this is almost certainly about claiming exclusive rights to do this stuff on an ijobs, and not in general. In other words, this is about locking out app developers so that Apple has a clear field. If you're writing an app to do this, then you're in trouble.

    It's all been done elsewhere, except in combination with an iphone. If they've written their 'system and method' appropriately, they might persuade a (dumb^H^H^H^HUSPTO) examiner that the combination is some sort of invention.

    @IMG: this is not a software patent.

  33. G C M Roberts


    So this patent is only for the iPhone? Is that the "get out of gaol free, with stupid" card?

    Perhaps I can repatent the Dyson for just my house?

  34. Kevin Whitefoot

    Prior art

    Hasn't Manfred Macx already patented all this stuff and assigned the rights to the Free Infrastructure Foundation?

  35. g e

    This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere

    Explain to me once more how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019