Friday, November 11, 2005

US 6,963,850 to to assist users in selecting items

US 6,963,850 to on purchase circle technology lists inventors Jeff Bezos, Joel Speigel, and Jon McAuliffe, and covers self-selecting and automatically generated communities for Amazon customers.

From the summary:

One problem with the above-described methods is that they fail to take into consideration the level of acceptance the merchant's products have attained within specific user communities. As a result, products that are very popular within the communities to which the user belongs or is affiliated may never be called to the user's attention. For example, a programming book that has attained disparate popularity among Microsoft Corporation programmers may never be called to the attention of other programmers, including other programmers at Microsoft. Even where such products are known to the user, the user's ignorance of a product's level of acceptance within specific communities, and/or the user's inability to communicate with users who are familiar with the product, can contribute to a poor purchase decision.

The present invention addresses these and other problems by providing various computer-implemented services for assisting users in identifying and evaluating items that have gained acceptance within particular user communities. The services are preferably implemented as part of a Web site system, but may alternatively be implemented as part of an online services network, interactive television system, or other type of information system. In one embodiment, the services are provided on the Web site of an online store to assist users in identifying and evaluating products, such as book titles.

The first claim states:

A method of assisting users in selecting items from an electronic catalog of items, the catalog accessible to users of an online sales system that provides services for allowing users to purchase items from the catalog, the method comprising:

providing a database which contains information about a plurality of user communities, wherein different communities represent different subsets of users of the sales system;

tracking, via computer, online purchases of items from the sales system by the users to generate purchase history data, and storing the purchase history data in a computer memory:

processing, via computer, at least the purchase history data to identify at least one item which, based on actions of both members and non-members of a selected community of said plurality of user communities, has a popularity level that is substantially greater within the selected community than outside the selected community; and

electronically notifying users that the at least one item is popular within the selected community to assist users in selecting items from the electronic catalog.


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