eBay has launched a new group buying portal that will let a group of friends or family members to get together in purchasing an item. Group buying is not entirely new to the internet landscape, but when eBay does it, it can be big. The new service will let members of a group pitch in with their own contributions and notes that will all add up towards the purchase of the product. Any item that is available for purchase and is not up on bids can be purchased this way.
The USA Today explains how it works,
“Anything on eBay that’s available immediately, rather than up for bid, can be purchased this way starting today at eBay.com/GroupGifts. If members of an extended family wanted to buy a gift for one member, one person would choose a gift — or have one recommended by eBay — and invite family members to chip in using Facebook or e-mail. Those who wanted to join in would choose an amount to contribute (or agree to pay a requested amount) and pay using either PayPal or a credit card. They could also add a personal note. If enough people don’t chip in, the organizer can ask people to contribute more or choose a less expensive gift.”
What do you think of this new service?
eBay has won a crucial patent that grants the company the rights to the entire online auctioning model that exists today. The announcement from USPTO comes over 11 years since the company first applied for a patent to this technology.
The patent titled, “Computer-implement method and system for conducting auctions on the internet” describes its innovation thus:
“Methods and apparatus for a system for facilitating electronic commerce transactions with a first data storage location for holding information about an item for auction from a first participant in a data packet network, a verification process that verifies the user identification of the first participant in said data packet network, the verification process confirming a user identification before allowing the participant in said data packet network access to place information about an item for auction in the system, a display process for displaying information of the item for auction to a plurality of data packet network users, the display process displaying an advertisement with the item for auction to the plurality of data packet users, an auction process for receiving bids on the item for auction from at least one of said plurality of data packet network users, the auction process also verifying a user identification from said at least one of a plurality of data packet network users before allowing receipt of the bid and a notification process for notifying the plurality of data packet network participants that said bid was accepted by said system.”
As you can see, this is very much the core model of online auctioning as it exists today and with eBay now holding the rights to the online auction process, the several clones that have mushroomed over the years may well be at the risk of a lawsuit.