Monday, August 2, 2010

Business Methods Monday Jargon Alert - "Asynchronous distribution of stage-based information"

"Asynchronous distribution of stage-based information"

Patent Application 2006/0288266, "Asynchronous distribution of stage-based information in printed format" was filed on November 30, 2005. Its companion, Patent Application 2007/0005384, "Method of Managing Circulation of Items in Printed Format", was filed on November 21, 2005. A third patent application 2006/0284962, Inventory management or distribution of items in printed format is part of the same group. They all evolved from the same provisional patent application 60/691,071 filed June 16, 2005.

Consider a publisher who has a series of magazines, books, other hard copy information. Synchronous publication means all of the subscribers get the exact same magazine with the exact same content at the same time. Everyone gets the same issue of Sports Illustrated on the same day with the same content. The inventors refer to this as perfect synchronicity in the companion patent application, Method for Managing Circulation of Items in Printed Format. (Were the inventors Police fans?) Rather than having the magazines distributed according to the predetermined perfectly synchronous method of traditional publications, the inventors claim a method of asynchronous distribution of stage based information.

Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for distributing information, the method comprising:

defining a plurality of sequential stages of a process, each stage being independent of a particular point in a continuum of time, the stages being related to one another in a sequence of time;

preparing to print a plurality of editions for a publication in physical print media form, each edition including information content customized for a range of stages, each range including multiple ones of the plurality of sequential stages, each edition being distinct relative to the others of the plurality of editions;

printing multiple copies of each edition;

receiving, from each of a plurality of individuals, respective personal information relating to each individual, the personal information including information for determining which of the plurality of sequential stages applies to the individual relative to a date;
for a particular date, identifying a corresponding stage of the plurality of sequential stages that applies to at least one of the plurality of individuals; and

sending to the at least one of the plurality of individuals at least a respective one of the plurality of editions, said respective one of the plurality of editions including information content customized for a respective range of stages, the respective range of stages including the respective corresponding stage identified as applying to the respective individual for the particular date.
Here is where a little context adds to the clarity of the invention. The Assignee is BabyCenter, LLC. With BabyCenter in mind, asynchronous distribution of stage based information starts to make sense.

Having a baby involves a series of sequential stages.

Having a baby is independent of a particular point in time, instead each woman is somewhere in her own particular stage of the baby making process which is occurring at a particular time for her.

Sending out a baby publications works best when you can send a woman material that customized to her particular stage in the baby making process.

This means that the publisher will have a plurality of publications appropriate for each stage of the process. This is known as having many versions of a publication appropriate to a particular state in a process to the non-patent geeks among us.

The publisher will use personal information about the individual to determine which publication to distribute and when to do it. The publication date and the particular issue being distributed is asychronous.

Rather than sending everyone the August 1 edition of Baby Making Gazette at the same time each of the subscribers will get their own customized copy of Baby Making Gazette based on where they are in the process. (Stage based information.)

Very clever. But is it novel enough to be patentable?