The patent's assignee for patent number 8756116 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates to electronic commerce and more particularly to prequalifying sellers during the matching phase of an electronic commerce transaction.
"Due to the ever-increasing popularity and accessibility of the Internet as a medium of communication, the number of business transactions conducted using the Internet is also increasing, as is the number of buyers and sellers participating in electronic marketplaces providing a forum for these transactions. In addition, the globalization of such marketplaces has resulted in an increased number of seller attributes that buyers may need to consider when determining which sellers best suit their needs. The majority of electronic commerce ('e-commerce') transactions occur when a buyer determines a need for a product, identifies a seller that provides that product, and accesses the seller's web site to arrange a purchase of the product. If the buyer does not have a preferred seller or if the buyer is purchasing the product for the first time, the buyer will often perform a search for a number of sellers that offer the product and then access numerous seller web sites to determine which seller offers certain desired product features at the best price and under the best terms for the buyer. The matching phase of an e-commerce transaction (matching the buyer with a particular seller) is often inefficient because of the large amount of searching involved in finding a product and because once a particular product is found, the various offerings of that product by different sellers may not be easily compared."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "According to the present invention, disadvantages and problems associated with the matching phase of e-commerce transactions have been substantially reduced or eliminated.
"In one embodiment of the present invention, a system providing seller prequalification during the matching phase of an electronic commerce transaction includes a directory structure comprising multiple hierarchically organized product classes, each product class categorizing multiple products and defining one or more attributes of the products categorized in the product class. The system also includes one or more pointers for each product class, each pointer identifying a seller database in which product data enabling a product transaction is stored for products categorized in the product class. Each seller database is associated with a seller having values for one or more seller attributes. The system further includes a search interface operable to communicate, in response to selection of a product class and specification of one or more seller attribute criteria, a search query for product data only to one or more seller databases associated with sellers having seller attribute values matching the specified seller attribute criteria, these seller databases being identified by the one or more pointers associated with the selected product class.
"In another embodiment, a system providing seller pre-qualification during the matching phase of an electronic commerce transaction includes a directory structure comprising multiple hierarchically organized product classes, each product class corresponding to multiple products having in common one or more product attributes, each product in a product class being defined by a product attribute value for each product attribute for the product class, each product being further defined by a seller attribute value for each of one or more seller attributes, the seller attribute values for a product being associated with a particular seller from which the product may be purchased. The system also includes a search interface operable to communicate to one or more seller databases a search query for product data in response to selection of a product class, specification of one or more product attribute criteria, and specification of one or more seller attribute criteria. The system further includes a presentation interface operable to communicate search results in response to the search query, the search results comprising product data for one or more products within the selected product class with product attribute values matching the specified product attribute criteria and with seller attribute values matching the specified product attribute criteria.
"Particular embodiments of the present invention may provide one or more important technical advantages. For example, certain embodiments may allow buyers to pre-qualify sellers based on seller attribute values in addition to product attribute values, which may become an increasingly important search tool as the number of sellers participating in electronic marketplaces and the size of product catalogs increase. Sellers may be described in terms of a supplier ontology that includes fields for seller attribute values, and buyers may electronically search for sellers matching certain seller attribute criteria as well as products matching certain product attribute criteria. Sellers not matching seller attribute criteria provided by a buyer may be excluded from the search results presented to the buyer (or even the search itself), thereby reducing the need for the buyer to individually contact sellers after obtaining the results of a product query or manually cull such results to identify the most suitable seller for the buyer. Pre-qualifying sellers may accordingly simplify and speed up the matching phase of e-commerce transactions in which a buyer searches for and identifies a suitable product and/or a suitable seller.
"Systems and methods incorporating one or more of these or other technical advantages are well suited for modem e-commerce environments. Other technical advantages may be readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following figures, descriptions, and claims."
For additional information on this patent, see: Tenorio, Manoel. Pre-Qualifying Sellers during the Matching Phase of an Electronic Commerce Transaction. U.S. Patent Number 8756116, filed
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