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Innovation Clusters: A Study of eCommerce Patents

By Kiran Nandavarapu, Vijaykumar S L & Shweta Kumawat

Our previous blog entry on eCommerce patents provided a few details on the role of patents and why they have become important in the industry. Today, we are announcing the results of a study conducted by Blueocean Market Intelligence that looks at the industry over the last eight years.  The objective of the study was to understand how patents are changing the dynamics of the eCommerce industry, with respect to the competition, acceptance and evolution of the technologies within.

Our study selected 12 of the top players representing the eCommerce industry and gives comprehensive insights about the related patents and other nuances (such as the process of patent filing and the costs involved for the same), the critical aspects of patents portfolio management and the prospective usage of patents. The study showed that many of the top diversified players in the eCommerce space have patented their services across six categorical clusters, under which innovations are made possible –  Order Management, Billing and Payment Management, Offer Management, Seller and Knowledge Management Services. These services represent end-to-end functionalities within eCommerce industry.

eCommerce Patents across the Services – Jan 2006 to July 2014 (Figure 1)

Ecommerce patents


Figure 1, tell us that Offer Management services have the maximum number of patents, followed by Payments and Order Management Services.

The following are a few examples that demonstrate how eCommerce patents are benefiting companies with varied services.

  • eBay has the highest number of patents in both the Payments and Offers category. In 2010, eBay was granted a patent 11 years after filing, giving the company an exclusive ownership over its online auction process model, thus generating a new revenue stream. Given the entire buzz around Bitcoin, which is revolutionising the whole digital payments industry, eBay has filed patents for Bitcoin currency exchanger. The currency exchanger refers to an eBay Bitcoin exchanger type of system, used to accept any form of currency including digital currencies like Bitcoin. It allows users to earn some reward or mileage points which can be redeemed for goods and services on other networks.
  • In the payment category, Apple has patents for iWallet Chip in personal devices, the motion-based payments which will be useful in processing orders and reservations at restaurants, allowing consumers to easily obtain highly relevant data and retailers to send targeted advertising, thus helping them to enhance their services.
  • In the order service category, Amazon is trying to get a technology innovation patented for delivering goods before the order is placed. It is implementing the same using predictive technology and analysing the factors which determine shoppers’ buying preference. Amazon has also patented its new delivery model called the Prime Air which it expects to launch in the coming years.
  • Google has patented a mechanism to manage devices associated with digital wallet accounts, real time payments’ authorisation, wallet consolidator, etc.
  • Microsoft has most of its patents in the offers category, for sections like semantic ads, targeting Ads, social ranking for sellers, personalised search, etc. these are further complimented by patents in the payments category.

Over the last decade E-Commerce has surged ahead and there has been a rise in the number of companies requesting patents for their technologies. Also, with the advent of Internet of Things, more devices are entering the eCommerce space, with participation ranging from payment transactions to order management, hinting to the increasing importance of eCommerce patents.

More insights such as these can be found in our official study report available for download.





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Vijay Kumar S L

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