|Thu Jan 17 2013 21:23:46|
eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?
By: Brian Cohen
What if you could buy something on eBay, but not reveal your address to the seller? And as a seller, how would you feel about sending a package to a hidden address?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just published eBay patent application 20130018759, "Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping."
The Background of the patent ponders a "scenario (where) a recipient may not wish to share his or her mailing address with the sender," and the Detailed Description further explains the solution:
"In an online marketplace, a buyer or recipient may be reluctant to provide personal information such as his mailing address to a seller...
A token associated with the mailing address of the buyer may be provided to the seller. The seller may then use token to ship an item to the buyer with a shipping service provider who has privileged access the actual mailing address information of the buyer...
..(T)he universal addressing server allows for a user to use their email address instead of their physical address."
Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many online services require the physical address of a user in order to perform a transaction. This description illustrates how a financial institution (e.g., such as Paypal) can be used as a service to verify the address of any user registered with the financial institution. Thus, a financial institution can act as an online gateway for third party systems to check and verify any user identity...
Although, curiously, if we go back to the Background of the patent, it describes a conundrum that eBay users do not have:
"Every time a sender mails a package to a recipient, the sender must carefully write the physical address of the sender and the recipient. The physical address includes zip code and city. The sender needs to be careful not to make any mistakes so as to avoid any shipping delays."
Address information has been pre-filled by eBay for a while now. See eBay announcement "eBay Shipping Labels For Faster And Smarter Shipping."
eBay's Adult Only (NSFW) and eBay Bullion Center categories will no doubt be beneficiaries of anonymized shipping transactions.
eBay is no stranger to anonymity. Paypal's genius lies in that buyers do not give sellers their credit/banking/debit card details directly. So eBay's "Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping" is a natural extension of Paypal's technology.
Last June, USPTO published Amazon patent application 20120143709 "Protection of Privacy in Connection with Shipment of Products" which is described in the patent Abstract:
"Disclosed are various embodiments for enhancing protection of privacy of purchaser contact details in connection with shipment of parcels. A shipping label can be generated that includes at least one contact detail that hides an actual contact detail associated with a purchaser. A carrier tasked to ship and/or deliver the product to an address designated by the purchaser can use the at least one contact detail to contact the purchaser. The attempts to contact the purchaser can be logged, and the contact details expired when no longer needed."
What do you think of anonymized shipping transactions? Let's know below!
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."