AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Thu July 12 2012 00:02:22

eBay's Social Networking Plans

By: Brian Cohen

Sponsored Link

Is eBay planning to introduce social networking features? EcommerceBytes contributor Brian Cohen explains what some recent patents could mean for the online marketplace. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

eBay may be planning on creating its own social network based on recently filed U.S. Patent applications. "Live Search Chatroom" patent filing describes an in-house social network while "Social Network Payment System" would latch onto pre-existing 3rd party social networks such as Facebook.

Live Search Chatroom sounds like something that came out of 1995 but its quite common for companies to obfuscate their filings in such a way to shield their trade secrets from competitive intelligence gathering. I wouldn't call the patent title misleading per se, but I did a double take when I was reviewing eBay's filing because it seemed a bit of an anachronism. Let's just say the patent is hiding in plain sight. ;)

Inside the filing eBay gives a Background as to the need of the social network invention that is ironically more insightful than the Patent Abstract.

"Typically, during the e-commerce process, only the server knows who is searching for what. However, sellers may not know the potential buyers who are searching for their products, and buyers with same interests may not have an easy way to exchange ideas on their searches. On the other hand, the search activities are typically individual based, and thus do not have the liveness and excitement of real world shopping. For example, buyers of the same interests may not put their heads together on a hot shopping area."

From the abstract:

"One embodiment provides a system of exchanging information between at least two parties over a network. The system includes a social media generator module,..." (I will spare you from the devil in the details)

The other patent application has the not-so-obscure title "Social Network Payment System." From the Background:

"Some users may belong to several different social networks that may include friend networks such as, for example, those provided by MYSPACE® and FACEBOOK®, business networks such as, for example, those provided by LINKEDIN®, review network such as, for example, those provided by YELP®, messaging networks such as, for example, those provided by TWITTER®, and/or a variety of other social networks known in the art. While these social networks provide users with many different ways to interact with their friends, business associates, and/or other relationships, one area in which they are lacking is in providing the ability for their users to make payments to other users within and/or outside the social network seamlessly (i.e., without leaving the social networking website.) Currently, if a user within a social network wishes to make a payment to another user, that user must retrieve an identifier for the user that is registered with, for example, a payment service provider, leave the social networking website, and go to a payment service provider website to schedule the payment using the identifier. Making payments in such a manner is undesirable and disruptive to the user's social network experience."

So eBay created (From the Summary):

"....The social network payment gateway allows a user in a social network to make payments to users in that social network and/or in other social networks without having to leave their social network. For example, the social network payment gateway may operate with a social network (e.g., through an embedded application) to allow a user to select users from a plurality of social networks, create payment requests for those users, and send those payment requests without ever leaving their social network...."

Its interesting to note that these patents were assigned to eBay and not PayPal. This is a bit surprising because PayPal of course processes payments on the eBay platform.

In 2011 eBay filed for 113 patents, and this year it appears to be on track to match or exceed 2011's numbers with 65 filed to date (Source: faqs.org). In 2011, PayPal applied for 1 patent and has applied for 3 patents so far this year (Source: USPTO.gov). I was unable find any patent filings for X.commerce.

About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."




Comments (16) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 12 00:18:38 2012

eBay wants to dip its filthy fingers into whatever pockets that they can ...period.... they'd sell herion to kindergartners if they thought they could get away with it, scumbags !!!

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Jul 12 01:51:52 2012

Trite but true comes to mind.

Mon(k)ey see, mon(k)ey do.

A day late and a dollar short.

There's no honor among thieves.

What's next? My eBay Space?

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 12 07:25:15 2012

HA HA HA who on earth would want to socialize on Fleabay....  

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Thu Jul 12 09:24:56 2012

More software "patents" that should never exist. Lawyers are killing innovation in this country. I can understand a complex algorithm, say for encryption, being patented. That, at least, has a mathematical formula behind it. But this notion of patenting vague business processes is ridiculous. It's getting so absurd that even something innocuous, like putting a red "Buy" button on a web page could be subject to a patent. It's complete nonsense and only serves to make money for lawyers and patent trolls.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 12 10:25:54 2012

As far as I am concerned, eBay and google can stick ALL of their SCHEMES in their ear because I want NO part of any of them.

And anyone with even a half of a brain will feel the same way.

They can send in all of the trolls they want to try and concince us of how "wonderful they are and how grateful we should be for them" but most people do NOT believe them.

There is NO WAY I am going to expand my store with ebay and google nor pay them ONCE more CENT for anything more.

The bottom line is, what ebay wants to do is take COMPLETE control of your businesses no matter where you go so they can get MORE FEES.

It is bad enough they let buyers rip us off on eBay, I am not going to let them put their greedy paws on my sales OUTSIDE of ebay and have them allow even MORE people to rip me off!  

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: 10 year seller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 12 11:12:59 2012


"The bottom line is, what ebay wants to do is take COMPLETE control of your businesses no matter where you go so they can get MORE FEES."
EXACTLY!
They want a cut of profits from your customers on other sites.  

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 12 11:38:57 2012

WHY do we need to use ebay, google, Bonanza or ANY of them on social network sites and PAY THEM for us selling to OUR friends and our friends friends.

WE can take our OWN SITES to these networks and pay OURSELVES!

Think about it.. It is like we throw a tuperware party in OUR home, pay for all of the food, drinks set up, invites, entertainment, and clean up, then for NO REASON at all we then go and hand ebay a CUT of the proceeds BEFORE costs and ebay ends up with same or even more than we do, when they provided NOTHING!

Oh let us us not forget they get a copy of ALL of the sales, customers etc to be able to SELL to our competitors later.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 12 13:34:15 2012

"They want a cut of profits from your customers on other sites."

Oh no my friend, they do not want a cut of our PROFITS, they want a cut of the SALE, which is totally different.

They do not care about our PROFITS because that is just what is left over after COSTS, which is much less. No, they want a MUCH BIGGER piece, and even tht is not enough for them, that is why they also get a cut off of SHIPPING.

They can care less if we actually even make a PROFIT.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Thu Jul 12 14:32:26 2012

eBay social network = you pay a listing fee for each update, then you're charged a final value fee every time someone reads your update. Then you get charged a shipping fee for the update being posted and finally Paypal takes a cut of the total.


Seriously, eBay is so behind the times, all the patent trolling in the world is never going to help them survive very much longer. Not to mention, social networking has already peaked and people are ready to go back to their normal lives.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: elancep This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jul 12 14:45:11 2012

I don't think customers have any desire to buy physical products through a social network. Maybe to be kept up date on promotions and sales but I think people prefer the actual sale take place on a secure eCommerce web platform. I also think that over monetizing social networks in the long run will lead to their demise.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jul 12 15:35:47 2012

There is only room for one or maybe 2 social networks and Facebook has the market.
I certainly would not join up to any ebay scheme just on principal as I find them very UN-Friendly.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Jul 12 15:42:49 2012

Good Lord, they already monitor their internal discussion boards like the Gestapo and ''pink slap'' who and what they don't like and remove anything that offends them or is not seen as being in their best interest.   Who would want any part of anything that they do related to chat.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Thu Jul 12 18:15:15 2012

I don't like the people on Facebook.

Too many are pimping eBay junk.  

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: JoyfulA This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 13 13:13:13 2012

That patent reads like eBay was assigned to write a thousand-word essay and was way short of content: "such as, for example," over and over and over.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Fri Jul 13 17:55:33 2012

Sounds like the kind of thing you used to be able to do by watching real bidders instead of 'e***e(215)' FAKE hidden ones.

When activity on ebay was open you could follow people with your same interests around, look at what they were bidding on, message them about YOUR auction and every now and then bag a nice little sale.

Sounds like a little 'out-of-foot bullet extraction', if you ask me.

eBay's Social Networking Plans   eBay's Social Networking Plans

by: elancep This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jul 23 13:22:07 2012

If you're buying items to resell later then you really don't want to share what you are buying and or searching for on eBay.  



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.