Sony Seeks Patent on Gifting Functions for an Online Marketplace

By Steve Brachmann
October 3, 2013

The Sony Corporation of Tokyo, Japan, is a global technology manufacturer with a wildly diverse lineup of hardware electronic products. A number of Sony’s brands are highly recognizable throughout the world, such as the gaming console Playstation, one of its most popular products. Recently, gamers all over the world took note of an announcement by Sony that the company plans to include voice and gesture control on the soon-to-be-released Playstation 4. Sony hopes that the console, which will come out later this year, will sell five million units globally by March 2014.

IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series has gone through the recent developments at Sony Corporation before, and now we return to see what this multinational conglomerate has been working on. We’ve accessed a number of patent applications and issued patents assigned to Sony from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see what the future holds for consumer electronics.

We’re taking a really close look at one intriguing patent application published recently by the USPTO that enables a production studio and consumers to earn money off of content sales. In this system, purchasers of digital content can register to sell the content to others, supporting a company’s marketing and enabling those users to earn some money. Other patent applications that pique our interest include improved stereoscopic 3D glasses for use in conjunction with normal eyewear, as well as a more secure system of digital rights management for online media streams.

We’ve also pulled up a number of issued patents that have specifically given Sony the rights to a number of improvements in entertainment systems. One patent protects a headphone appliance that reduces unnatural sounds during telephone calls. Another patent protects a system of quickening the startup time for television sets. Sony has also received a patent to protect a method of reducing light leakage and flickering in movie projector sets for theaters.

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System and Method for Enabling Consumer Promotion, Sale, or Gifting of Content Items
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130246226

Movies are consumed in a much different way today than they were even just a few decades ago. It used to be that the movie theater would be a social experience, with droves of people showing up to see the latest studio releases. People now are more inclined to experience films in small groups through subscription services, often in the comfort of their own homes.

These digital movie services may reduce the amount of people paying for tickets to a movie theater, but they do make it easier for people to share their thoughts about these films through social media. Even when a friend recommends a movie to another to watch, however, that person must visit a “brick and mortar” store to buy a physical copy of the movie for the publisher to earn more money. In most cases, the individual will find some other means of watching the movie.

Sony has filed this patent application with the USPTO to protect a system of enabling content owners to increase sales through consumer promotion of movies. The invention achieves this by creating a selling service that serves as an interface between content owners and users who want to promote movie content.

When consumers buy a digital copy of a film, they may decide to register for the selling service when prompted by this system. If they register, they receive access to an online sales portal that can be used to sell movies to others through a website. Content owners set the price of digital products, but sellers can increase that amount and keep the profit for themselves. This patent application also discusses the potential for this system to be applied for digital rentals, allowing a user to register as a seller for the duration of the rental period.

Claim 1 of this patent application would provide Sony the right to protect:

 “A method of providing a gifting functionality for an online marketplace for digital content items, comprising: a. providing a browsing and discovering functionality for a plurality of content items; b. providing a selection functionality, wherein a user may select a content item from one or more of the plurality for gifting; c. providing a personalization functionality for the selected content item, wherein the content item may be combined with one or more personalization content items into a packaged content item; d. providing a transaction functionality for the packaged content item, wherein a gifter provides compensation at least for the selected content item to a content item rights owner; e. providing a transmission functionality for the packaged content item, wherein the packaged content item is caused to be transmitted and delivered to a recipient; and f. providing a preview functionality for the packaged content item, wherein the packaged content item may be previewed prior to acceptance by the recipient.”

 

Issued Patents of Note

From U.S. Patent No. 8,534,847, titled “Projector and Control Method Therefor to Suppress Flickering.”

Many are well aware of Sony’s long line of consumer appliances available on the market, from televisions to cameras to laptops and more. IPWatchdog is noticing a number of patents issued recently by the USPTO to Sony which protect improvements to many of these digital consumer items, as well as a few upgrades to some more industrial pieces of digital equipment.

As with the patent applications, we’re noticing a number of patents that have been issued to protect system improvements to the experience of consuming media. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8531612, issued under the title Television Start Speed Enhancement, increases the speed at which a television can be turned on from standby mode.  U.S. Patent No. 8538059, entitled Ear Speaker Device, protects a combination headphone/speaker component that provides a much more natural sound for telephone conversations. Also, U.S. Patent No. 8538564, entitled Remote User Interface for Media Player, describes an input device component for a remote media player that could interact with the media program without requiring a user to operate the host computer.

Another couple of issued patents describe technological improvements for media transfers or industrial media equipment. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8534847, entitled Projector and Control Method Therefor to Suppress Flickering, provides for a better design to movie theater projectors to reduce light flickering during playback. Finally, U.S. Patent No. 8538888, entitled Method for Generating a Secure Copy of Media Data, protects a digital rights management system for media content that secures a specific copy of a piece of digital content to a serial number to prevent unauthorized copying.

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Other Patent Applications

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20130242388, titled “Stereoscopic Glasses.”

Movie-related technologies, both for production and distribution, are certainly a main focus of Sony’s development goals to judge by other recent patent applications filed by the company with the USPTO. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130222610, which is titled Capturing Metadata on Set Using a Smart Pen, aids in film production settings by enabling a computer to collect information on notes made by different individuals using a smart pen. This makes information digitally available to other production professionals more quickly than current paper methods of taking notes. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130238896, entitled Digital Rights Management for Live Streaming Based on Trusted Relationships, creates a more secure environment for digital rights management of Internet media streams for television or movies.

Sony is also working on creating a number of improvements to the way consumers enjoy audio and video products. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130242388, titled Stereoscopic Glasses, describes an innovative style of 3D lenses that can be worn over corrective eyeglasses so that a visually impaired viewer can view a picture through both lenses. Finally, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130230183, filed under the title Echo Cancellation, improves systems of removing echo playback from microphone speaker systems for telecommunications.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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