News Column

Patent Issued for Techniques for Providing an Electronic Representation of a Card

June 25, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- A patent by the inventors Slavin, Dan (Belmont, MA); Smrzlic, Pero (Leesburg, VA), filed on February 13, 2009, was published online on June 10, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8746581 is assigned to Codebroker, LLC (Belmont, MA).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Electronic cards, in particular electronic cards that correspond to already issued non-electronic cards which are issued by a card issuing party (the card issuer) to a party to which the card issuer is granting a privilege. Such cards will be termed in the following privilege cards. Common examples of privilege cards include coupons, loyalty cards, gift cards, identification cards, credit or debit cards, membership cards, tickets, and licenses.

"Electronic privilege cards ('eCards') can provide significant convenience advantages to consumers over non-electronic privilege cards ('Cards') such as easy accessibility and being more environmentally friendly that their paper and plastic counterparts. These eCards, including any associated barcodes, can be stored in an electronic version of a wallet and can be displayed on a device such as a mobile telephone that has access to the wallet. When displayed, eCards can be used with barcode readers in the same fashion as their physical counterparts.

"FIG. 1 shows a number of ways in which today's consumer can obtain a physical Card at 101: By applying for one via a web form (105), phone (103), or paper form (103). In all cases, the issuer collects information about the applicant and enters the information into a database (111, 109, 115). The consumer obtains a physical Card either immediately or via service such as US mail (107, 113, 115). Once the consumer has a physical copy of the card, he/she can then create an electronic version of the card (117). Currently available ways of doing this include: Consumers fill out a form using an application running on a mobile device in which the consumer selects the type of Card from a pre-defined list and then enters the required information for that Card. The application can then present all of this information at a single time in tabular form, or place it on some type of background image to have it appear more like the original physical Card, Consumers fill out a form using a desktop application running on a personal computer in which the consumer selects the type of card from a pre-defined list and then enters the required information for that Card. The desktop application then transfers this information to an application running on the mobile device which then presents all of this information at a single time, or places it on some type of background image to have it appear more like the original physical Card.

"Neither of these methods incorporates the use/display of a barcode as part of the eCard. The eCards made as described above are stored in an electronic wallet for easy access by the user. To use either the physical card or the eCard made from it, the user presents the card or the image of the eCard (119) to a representative of the issuer, who validates the card and provides the privilege represented by the card (121).

"All kinds of eCard versions of privilege cards have a number of advantages over physical privilege cards: A consumer can carry any number of eCards in a mobile phone The eCards, if used as full replacements for non-electronic privilege cards, can reduce printing and delivery costs.

"Privilege cards that are originally issued as eCards have a number of additional advantages over eCards made as indicated at 117 of FIG. 1: Validation of a privilege card that is originally issued as an eCard can be automated and more kinds of validation are possible with eCards than with physical privilege cards. With eCards, validation checks can be performed when the eCard is issued and/or before/after they are to be displayed. The latter checks can determine things such as whether the eCard has expired, whether a fixed number of uses has been exceeded, whether use of the card has resulted in further privileges, or whether the eCard is being used in the proper location. eCards with automated validation can be used with clerkless point of sale systems.

"Some of the issues with prior art solutions for obtaining an electronic form of a previously-existing privilege card include the lack of the validity checking that is available with an eCard, the lack of a way of ensuring that the eCard's barcode has the best form for the mobile device's display, and the lack of a way to obtain an eCard by simply using text messaging/SMS.

"Further, obtaining an eCard as set forth in the discussion of FIG. 1 does not address four fundamental issues around the convenience of obtaining an electronic representation of a physical Card a consumer is already in possession of: a way to easily communicate the method of requesting an eCard version of an already existing physical privilege, a method for a consumer to enter or send in an existing identification number (barcode or other identification number) from the internet or mobile device to an Electronic Card Issuing System and receiving back an electronic representation of that code on their mobile device, a way to shorten the number of digits that the consumer needs to type in order to enter their identification number, and a way for the consumer to identify the merchant/program that the identification number belongs to in order that appropriate logos or other identifying marks can be incorporated into the Card

"It is an object of the techniques disclosed in the following Detailed Description to provide users of mobile phones and other digital devices with displays and network connections with easy-to-use techniques for making eCards that correspond to already issued privilege cards, which permit the kinds of verification that are possible with eCards generally, and which are optimized for display on the devices for which they are intended."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In one aspect, the object of the techniques is achieved by a method of making an electronic version of a previously-issued privilege card for a user. The previously-issued privilege card is issued by a card issuer and the method includes the steps performed in the processor of: receiving issue validation information for the electronic version from the user, the issue validation information including at least card identification information for the preexisting card; using the issue validation information and information of the card issuer to determine whether the electronic version should issue; and on validation, making the electronic version of the preexisting privilege card.

"Further details of the above method are associating use validation information provided by the card issuer with the electronic version and using display information for a device upon which the electronic version is to be displayed to make the electronic version. In many cases, the electronic version includes a barcode and the display information is used to generate the barcode.

"In another aspect, the invention is a method of making an electronic card for a mobile telephone. The telephone has a display and the ability to send text messages and the method includes the following steps. The steps are performed in a server to which the mobile telephone can send text messages: receiving a text message from the mobile telephone; making an electronic card based on the text message, the electronic card being displayable on the mobile telephone; and providing the electronic card to the mobile telephone.

"Also included in this aspect are the steps performed in the mobile telephone of: sending a text message to a server, the server responding to the text message by making an electronic card that is based on the text and is displayable on the mobile telephone; and receiving the electronic card from the server.

"Other objects and advantages will be apparent to those skilled in the arts to which the invention pertains upon perusal of the following Detailed Description and drawing, wherein:


"FIG. 1 Prior art techniques for providing consumers with non-electronic cards and then making e-cards corresponding to the non-electronic cards

"FIGS. 2A and 2B Techniques of the invention for making e-cards corresponding to non-electronic cards

"FIG. 3 First example of an electronic loyalty card made using the e inventive techniques;

"FIG. 4 Second example of an electronic loyalty card made using the inventive techniques; and

"FIG. 5 A non-electronic loyalty card that is particularly adapted to being used to make an electronic loyalty card using the inventive techniques.

"Reference numbers in the drawing have three or more digits: the two right-hand digits are reference numbers in the drawing indicated by the remaining digits. Thus, an item with the reference number 203 first appears as item 203 in FIG. 2."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Slavin, Dan; Smrzlic, Pero. Techniques for Providing an Electronic Representation of a Card. U.S. Patent Number 8746581, filed February 13, 2009, and published online on June 10, 2014. Patent URL:

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Source: Journal of Engineering

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