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Patentsuche

  1. Erweiterte Patentsuche
VeröffentlichungsnummerWO2006055000 A1
PublikationstypAnmeldung
AnmeldenummerPCT/US2004/038906
Veröffentlichungsdatum26. Mai 2006
Eingetragen18. Nov. 2004
Prioritätsdatum12. Nov. 2004
VeröffentlichungsnummerPCT/2004/38906, PCT/US/2004/038906, PCT/US/2004/38906, PCT/US/4/038906, PCT/US/4/38906, PCT/US2004/038906, PCT/US2004/38906, PCT/US2004038906, PCT/US200438906, PCT/US4/038906, PCT/US4/38906, PCT/US4038906, PCT/US438906, WO 2006/055000 A1, WO 2006055000 A1, WO 2006055000A1, WO-A1-2006055000, WO2006/055000A1, WO2006055000 A1, WO2006055000A1
ErfinderCharles F. Benninghoff, Iii
AntragstellerBenninghoff Charles F Iii
Zitat exportierenBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Externe Links:  Patentscope, Espacenet
International system to allocate vendue exclusivity ranking (isvaer)
WO 2006055000 A1
Zusammenfassung
Disclosed herein is an 'International System to Allocate Vendue Exclusivity Rankings' ('ISAVER') in which, within an ISAVER proprietary website, and in response to a query from a third party ('Customer'), data derived from ISAVER's database is displayed in such that display position is allocated based upon the results of a binding vendue. The ISAVER Administrator has complete control over all site processes, including determining the availability of all aspects of data, the data susceptible to a query and to be presented as a result of any query, including such things as the available listings (e.g., the service offered), the classifications in such listing (the Provider Option), the data available for a query, and the data obtained from each Provider. In addition to data requests, all Providers from a particular Geographical Area (GEO) determined by the Administrator, will be presented a list of Provider Options from which to choose. If any Provider requests exclusivity for a Provider Option, then the Administrator may, but need not, initiate a vendue whereby that Provider Option is offered to all Providers that have previously selected that Provider Option, or have selected the GEO in which the exclusivity for that Provider Option is being sought. At that point, eligible Providers are invited by the Administrator to join a vendue to determine ranking position in any result of a subsequent query pertaining to that Provider Option. All biographical, historical, Provider Options and Customer queries will be in multiple languages as selected by the ISAVER Administrator.
Ansprüche  (OCR-Text kann Fehler enthalten)
G. Claims 16
1. A method and system to distribute a defined, temporary possessory interest in an internet domain by way of a binding vendue held by the owner thereof which interest may be restricted by time of possession, geographical restriction, and/or specialty description among a plethora of other possible restrictions.
2. The method of claim 1 , comprising the steps of: input of information, including the selection of desired restriction (herein "listing") options from a pre-defined set of listing options, by a party seeking listing on a proprietary internet domain; determining listing positions available to the party seeking listing based upon the selected listing options and granting a non-exclusive listing position if available; allowing the selection of the option of exclusivity of listing position, allocated by binding vendue if listing position is desired by more than one party; displaying to interested parties those listings that match queries selected from the pre-determined set of listing options generated by said interested parties and which also conform to any conditions of exclusivity or position rankings as may have been determined by the binding vendue; providing a means for an administrator to administer the system.
3. The method of claim 2, in which the step of the input of information by a party desiring listing comprises serving to said party a graphical user interface through the internet which facilitates the transmittal of information.
4. The method of claim 3, in which selections are made from a set of pre-determined listing options which are displayed to the party desiring listing on the graphical user interface.
5. The method of claim 4, in which the set of pre-determined listing options may include, but is not limited to: geographical location; profession; good or service provided; any other pre-determined options meant to differentiate individual or groups of persons or objects being listed from others.
6. The method of claim 3, in which payment information is input by the party desiring listing.
7. The method of claim 3, in which personal or contact information is inputted by the party desiring listing for the possible future use of said information by others, with this information including, but not limited to:name; address; telephone number; fax number; cell phone number; pager number; email address; business address; business phone number; business fax number; URL; business description; and educational background.
8. The method of claim 2, in which the step of determining available listing positions and granting non-exclusive listing position comprises: receiving listing options as selected by the party desiring listing; comparing those selected listing options with any potential existing listing under the same listing options to determine if there exist any prior conditions of exclusivity for chosen listing options which would preclude the addition of any subsequent listings under the same listing options; sending electronic notification as the existence or inexistence of any prior conditions of exclusivity for the chosen listing options; allowing for the selection of alternate listing options in the event that the initial listing options were unavailable due to a prior condition of exclusivity; allowing for the selection of exclusivity for the chosen listing option; verifying payment information; receiving payment; adding the listing to the system on a non-exclusive basis if no conditions of exclusivity exist and the option of exclusivity is not chosen.
9. The method of claim 2, in which the step of allowing for the selection of the option of exclusivity of listing position comprises: identifying any other listings that share at least one listing option with those desired for the exclusive listing position; adding the listing to the system on an exclusive basis in the event that no other listings exist that share at least one listing option with the chosen listing options; initiating a binding vendue for the purpose of allocating the exclusive rights to the listing under the chosen listing options when other listings exist that share at least one listing option with the chosen listing options.
10. The method of claim 9, in which the binding vendue held for the purpose of allocating the exclusive rights to the listing under the chosen listing options comprises an electronic vendue conducted through the internet.
11. The method of claim 9, in which the step of initiating a binding vendue for the purpose of allocating the exclusive rights to the listing under the chosen listing options comprises sending an electronic notification to the holders of any listings that share at least one listing option of the pending vendue and its particulars.
12. The method of claim 11 in which the particulars of the vendue include: the listing being vended; the starting time and date; the duration; the starting bid; the bid increments; bidding instructions; and vendue location.
13. The method of claim 12 in which the vendue location specified on the electronic notification is in the form of a hyperlink directed to the appropriate URL.
14. The method of claim 9, in which the step of initiating a binding vendue for the purpose of allocating the exclusive rights to the listing under the chosen listing options further comprises: initializing the vendue; accepting bids from participants for the duration of the vendue; notifying participants after each subsequent high bid; deactivating vendue at the end of scheduled duration; notifying the winning and losing parties; accepting payment from winning party; adding exclusive listing into system.
15. The method of claim 2, in which the step of displaying to interested parties those listings that match queries of the pre-determined set of listing options comprises serving a graphical user interface through the internet for the purpose of facilitating the transmittal of information.
16. The method of claim 2, in which the step of displaying to interested parties those listings that match queries of the pre-determined set of listing options further comprises: receiving the selection of listing options for the desired query; identifying any listings that match the query; displaying solely said exclusive listing if there exists an exclusive listing under the listing options chosen for the query; displaying all listings that match the listing options selected for the query if no exclusive listing positions exist; displaying all listings that match at least one listing option if no listings exist that match all listing options chosen for the query; displaying notice that there are no listings that match any part of the query if the outcome of the query is as such.
17. The method of claim 2, in which the step of providing for a means for an administrator to administer the system comprises of: providing the administrator a means to administer the listing options; providing the administrator a means to administer the listings; and providing the administrator a means to administer the vendue.
18. The method of claim 17, in which the step of providing the administrator a means to administrate the listing options comprises: adding new listing options; modifying existing listing options; deleting existing listing options.
19. The method of claim 18, in which the step of adding new listing options is done one listing option at a time.
20. The method of claim 18, in which the step of adding new listing options is done by uploading CSV files containing the new listing options.
21. The method of claim 17, in which the step of providing the administrator a means to administer the listing comprises: searching for listings; suspending listings; reinstating suspended listings; deleting listing; viewing listing information; modifying listing information.
22. The method of claim 17, in which the step of providing the administrator a means to administer the vendue comprises: setting the vendue duration; setting the vendue starting bid; setting the bid increments.
23. An apparatus for facilitating the allocation of a possessory interest in an internet domain by way of a binding vendue held by the owner thereof for the purpose of displaying the resulting allocation of position, comprising: a storage device;and a processor connected to the storage device, the storage device storing a program for controlling the processor; and the processor operative with the program to: display for selection by party desiring listing the pre-determined listing options; receive information inputted into graphical user interface, including, but not limited to, the listing options; search the storage device to determine available listing positions and, if available, add listing on a non-exclusive basis; grant exclusive listings; receive a query from an interested party based upon their selection from the set of pre¬ determined listing options; and display to the interested party all listing that match the query made from the set of pre-determined listing options; allow for an administrator to administer the system.
24. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to serve a graphical user interface to the party desiring listing for the facilitate the transmittal of information.
25. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to receive selections made from a set of pre-determined listing options displayed to the graphical user interface.
26. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to receive selections made from a set of pre-determined listing options displayed to the graphical user interface which may include, but is not limited to: geographical location; profession; good or service provided; any other pre-determined options meant to differentiate individual or groups of persons or objects being listed from others.
27. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to receive payment information.
28. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to receive personal or contact information for the possible future use of said information by others, with this information including, but not limited to: name; address; telephone number; fax number; cell phone number; pager number; email address; business address; business phone number; business fax number; URL; business description; and educational background.
28. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to search the storage device to: compare the selected listing options with any potential existing listing under the same listing options to determine if there exist any prior conditions of exclusivity for chosen listing options which would preclude the addition of any subsequent listings under the same listing options; to send electronic notification as the existence or inexistence of any prior conditions of exclusivity for the chosen listing options; to allow for the selection of alternate listing options in the event that the initial listing options were unavailable due to a prior condition of exclusivity; allow for the selection of exclusivity for the chosen listing option; to verify payment information; to receive payment; to add the listing to the system on a non-exclusive basis if no prior conditions of exclusivity exist and the option of exclusivity is not chosen.
29. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to: search the storage device and identify any other listings that share at least one listing option with those desired for the exclusive listing position; add the listing to the storage device on an exclusive basis in the event that no other listings exist that share at least one listing option with the chosen listing options; initiate a binding vendue for the purpose of allocating the exclusive rights to the listing under the chosen listing options when other listings exist that share at least one listing option with the chosen listing options.
30. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to send an electronic notification to the holders of any listings that share at least one listing option of the particulars of the pending.
31. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to send an electronic notification to the holders of any listings that share at least one listing option of the particulars of the pending, the particulars including, but not limited to: the listing being vended; the starting time and date; the duration; the starting bid the bid increments; bidding instructions; and vendue location.
32. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to initiate a binding vendue for the purpose of allocating the exclusive rights to the listing under the chosen listing options at the time the option for the exclusive listing is selected.
33. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to accept bids from participants for duration of the vendue.
34. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to notify participants after each subsequent high bid.
35. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to deactivate vendue at the end of scheduled duration.
36. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to notify the winning and losing parties.
37. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to accept payment from winning party.
38. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to add exclusive listing into system.
39. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to serve a graphical user interface through the internet for the purpose of facilitating the transmittal of information.
40. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to display the set of pre-defined listing options for selection.
41. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to: receive the selection of listing options for the desired query; search the storage device to identify any listings listed under the listing options queried; if there exists an exclusive listing under the listing options chosen for the query, display solely said exclusive listing; if no exclusive listing positions exist, display all listings that match the listing options selected for the query; if no listings exist that match all listing options chosen for the query, display all listings that match at least one listing option; display notice that there are no listings that match any part of the query if the outcome of the query is as such.
42. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to: modify existing listing options; delete existing listing options; add new listing options one listing option at a time, add new listing options by uploading CSV files containing the new listing options.
43. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to: search for listings; suspend listings; reinstate suspended listings; delete listing; view listing information; modify listing information.
44. The apparatus of claim 23, in which the processor is further operative with the program to: set the vendue duration; set the vend ue starting bid; set the bid increments.
Beschreibung  (OCR-Text kann Fehler enthalten)

II. International System to Allocate Vendue Exclusivity Ranking (ISVAER)

A. Cross Reference to Related Patent Applications

1. none

B. Background

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates generally to a method and process for an Internet business plan in which, in response to a query, data derived from an existing database is displayed such that priority of display is allocated through a binding bidding process, and describes: (a) a method and apparatus that provides a platform in which to display specific information to those who may seek it; (b) a method and apparatus that provides a person seeking specific information the ability to make a query based upon pre¬ determined query specifications; and (c) a computer method and system for the display and query functions and the necessary administrative functions to control the system.

2. Description of Related Art

With more and more people becoming connected each year, the Internet has become an attractive place for businesses to advertise their goods and services.

Search engines have become a very popular means for consumers to search the internet for businesses that will provide the goods and services that they need.

HSAVER, as disclosed herein, can be used for the display of goods or services of an unlimited variety and description; however, for purposes of discussion in this section, a common example of "lawyer" will be used. Thus, a search for "lawyer" on a popular search engine will result in literally millions of listings for sites that contain the word "lawyer". From the point of view of the lawyer, this mode of advertisement is practically worthless, unless the lawyer's link happens to be on the first page.

Also appearing as a result of this search are smaller specialty search sites that cater only to people looking for lawyers. Sites such as these rely on an existing database of listings from which a query draws its results.

A query on one of the more popular sites for a lawyer that practices "personal injury" in "Los Angeles" results in nearly 500 listings. This is far fewer than millions of listing found on the large search engine, but a single lawyer's listing can easily get lost among the 485 others. This is especially the case if the lawyer's listing is not on the first couple of pages. A lawyer with the name of "Adams" has a much better chance than one named "Zapeda" of having a listing that is read by a potential client.

The present invention provides an opportunity for advertisers through the use of exclusive listings obtained through a binding vendue. To continue the lawyer example, a way for the lawyer in Los Angeles to know that only her name would be displayed when a query for a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles is made would be an invaluable advertising tool.

This exclusive listing on the site could be put up for bid to all interested lawyers, and, when searched for, the highest bidder would then be the only one displayed, or at a designated position within such search, for a specified period of time.

There are various prior art references that apply to both online auctions and to the allocation of display position, of which two of the closest related will be discussed. However, no prior art reference has been found in which a vendue is utilized to provide an advertiser (herein "Provider") a fixed and determinable position for a specified period of time, and at the request of a person seeking such unique positioning.

WOOLSTON: The first prior art is United States Patent 6,202,051 , Woolston, "Facilitating internet commerce through intemetworked auctions."

While Woolston relates to online auctions, it does not relate to the scope of the present invention. Three of the many discrepancies deserve mentioning. The first is the identity of the seller. In the Woolston patent, the seller of the good is an outside entity whose good "remains outside of the first-entity's control" [p. 10] with the first- entity being the owner of the auction network. In the present invention, the seller and the owner of the auction network are the same. It is ISAVER that is selling the ranking position on a website. This remains, at all times, in the control of ISAVER.

The second discrepancy is the role of the owner of the auction network. In the Woolston patent, the owner is a third-party to the transaction. The role of the owner is to provide an arena for the auction, for which the owner charges the seller a fee. In the present invention, the owner is ISAVER and it is ISAVER that is the seller. It provides the arena for the auction to take place in order to sell its own good, a listing on a website. The Provider is charged for the ranking upon the completion of the auction.

The third discrepancy is that the online auction systems as described by Woolston are meant to be dynamic systems in which the Administrator exerts little control into what is auctioned and how these items are listed. The Provider of the website (the "seller" of the goods or services) need only classify how she sees fit and this classification would be created in the system. To use Woolston's example, if a Provider wanted to sell a Frank Robinson baseball card, a database entry is created for that card by Woolston's system for the Provider without direct control by Woolston. If there were no prior entry, a new category, "frank robinson baseball card", is created [p. 15]. Of course, Woolston could be implemented to exclude certain types of goods or services (such as sales of alcoholic beverages or pornography. But aside from employing specific prohibited "keywords", the otherwise universal context of services and goods is totally open to definition by the Provider.

Unlike Woolston, ISAVER is a non-dynamic system. The search and listing categories are fixed by ISAVER's Administrator function, and can only be changed through this function (herein "Administrator").

For example, if ISAVER were employed for the purpose of advertising doctors, those wanting to be advertised would select from a pre-existing list of medical specialties. Those searching for doctors would select from the same pre-existing list to find an appropriate doctor. A doctor in a new field can not create a new listing category. In ISAVER, the Administrator function may provide a system for a doctor to make a request for a new, or altered entry onto a list, but it is the Administrator that inputs the parameters, from which all Providers must choose.

While Woolston is not the only patent that deals with internet auctions, it is purported to be a derivative of one of the earliest. As it is the foundation of internet auctions, this patent is emblematic of the differences between the present invention and all similar prior art dealing with online auctions.

MEISEL: The second prior art reference is United States Patent Application 20030033292, Meisel; et al., "System and method for enabling multi-element bidding for influencing a position on a search result list generated by a computer network search engine."

While Meisel relates more closely to the present invention, it differs in three important aspects.

The first is the nature of the listings. In the Meisel patent application, the Providers bid for positional listings for an unlimited number of search terms. This means that the Provider with the highest bid gets the top listing without any control by the Meisel system, the second highest bid gets the second listing, etc. Thus, a Provider is still not guaranteed that her listing will be the one that is seen by the Customer. Nor are the Providers guaranteed their rankings for any amount of time. At any time, a different Provider could offer to pay more for the ranking and take it over. In the present invention, the rankings are limited, pre-determined and on an exclusive basis. The Provider with the highest bids will be the only one whose listings are displayed. The Providers are also guaranteed the exclusive ranking for the duration of its term.

The second is the search method used to acquire the listings. In the Meisel patent application, the listings are categorized by keywords. Thus, a Provider can input any keyword under which she desires her listing to be found. In the present invention, the Provider can only choose from a set of pre-determined search parameters established by the ISAVER Administrator function to search an ISAVER's database. This difference again illustrates the designed non-dynamic nature of the present invention. In the Meisel patent application, a Provider can create a new search category by inputting a desired keyword. This is impossible in ISAVER. The Providers can only be listed in the pre-determined categories that are created by the Administrator.

The third difference is in the arena in which the search will take place. The stated purpose of the Meisel patent application is to influence the listings generated by a computer network search engine. With ISAVER, the search will be conducted in ISAVER's proprietary database that is under the complete and exclusive control of the Administrator, and through the interface by the Customer on ISAVER's proprietary website.

C. Definitions

1. Abogado.com system: A possible embodiment out of a plethora of possible embodiments ISAVER, the present invention.

2. Administrator: Entity responsible for the management of the proprietary ISAVER website, and all related functions.

3. CSV File: Comma Separated Value. CSV is a way of portraying in text form, data that would normally be displayed in a spreadsheet or table. Each line of text represents a different set of data while each value, or word, in the set being separated by a comma. An example for the values of coins from a penny to a quarter would be: .01 ,.05,.10,.25.

4. Customer: Is a person who is making a query for specific information.

5. Customer Request: Information inputted by the Customer which can include the Customer's geographical location and service need. Makes up the Customer's query of the existing database.

6. Exclusive Listing: Is a purchased option in which the holder of an Exclusive is the only Provider whose data is displayed as a result of a query by a Customer. It is possible for an Exclusive Listing to be a ranking within a display of data.

7. Geographical Area, herein sometimes GEO: A combination of a country, a state/province, and/or a city/metropolitan area. Sometimes GEO refers to a geographical area in CSV format. An example would be: United States,California,Los Angeles - Long Beach Metropolitan Area.Compton.

8. ISP: Is an abbreviation for an Internet Service Provider, such as America On Line, Juno, MSN, etc.

9. Listing: The display of data on the system. Also refers to a Ranking.

10. Normal Listing: Listing on the system in a non-exclusive basis, i.e. all those who fulfill the search parameters will be displayed if an Exclusive is not held.

11. Owner: Entity that holds all property rights to the website and the information stored on the database.

12. Provider: A person that wants the right to have specific information displayed.

13. Provider Data: The data supplied to the system for the purpose of both registering for the system, and as the information to be displayed to a Customer as a result of query.

14. Provider Options: The universe of possible selections offered by the ISAVER Administrator to interested Providers with such options reflecting either (a) the selections probably desired by Customers, or (b) historically related to the business, or calling, of targeted Providers. For example, the Provider Options for a medical-related ISAVER site may be: general practice, internal medicine, urology, proctology, etc.

15. Ranking: The display of data on the system. Also refers to a Listing.

16. Registered Provider: A Provider that has registered for and received a listing on the system.

17. Specialty: A predetermined data definition for which a Provider may obtain a Listing, or Ranking, on the system. 1.8. User interface: A part of a computer program that allows a user to exploit the features built into the underlying software program.

19. User: Anyone who uses the system, can be a Provider or a Customer.

20. Vendue: A binding bidding process for an Exclusive Listing or Ranking.

D. Summary of the Invention

1. In one aspect, ISAVER can be regarded as an Internet business method for the allocation of the display position of data derived from a query of an existing, static database, such that the priority of display is determined by a binding vendue that includes, but is not limited to, the following steps: a. the input of the specific data by Providers that want information responsive to that specific data displayed either for their purposes, or the purposes of another (e.g., the Customer); b. the reception, analysis and storage of that specific data; c. the allocation of the display priority of the specific data by way of a binding vendue; d. and, the display of the specific data as a result of a query made by a Customer in search of the specific data.

2. As to the first aspect of this invention a preferred embodiment, out of a plethora of possible embodiments, comprises a system and apparatus to enable a Provider to obtain a listing, or Ranking, on a website, for the purpose of advertising the Provider's services or goods, and for a Customer to make a search of the pre-determined listings based upon pre-determined query parameters. An exemplary method includes: a. Making available to a Provider that wishes to acquire a listing on the system the ability to securely use a web-based browser to input the Provider Data, including, but not limited to, i. the Provider's name, ii. the Provider's profession, iii. information about the Provider's firm or business, iv. the Provider's personal information, v. the geographical location of the Provider's operations, vi. selection from an existing universe of possible selections, those services (or goods) classification(s) provided by ISAVER as possible Provider Options, vii. education, viii. languages spoken, ix. a description about the Provider's firm or business, and x. a feature allowing the Provider to request the Administrator to add a new selection, or modify an existing selection; b. Giving the Provider the option to request an Exclusive Listing; c. Establishing the means to carry out a vendue for the rights to said Exclusive Listing; d. Making available to the Provider a personal web page with which the Provider Data can be edited; e. Making available to a Customer a search page in which the customer can make a search of all available listings, using pre-determined search parameters to narrow the scope of the search; f. Displaying to the Customer all matching Provider listings, 'or the single exclusive listing, if held; g. In cases where an Exclusive is requested by a Provider, offering a vendue system which includes features such as, but not limited to,

3. Responding electronically to the requesting Provider that a vendue will begin, if in the determination of the Administrator, such vendue is in ISAVER's best interest and in conformation with, for example, ISAVER's applicable Terms of Service,

4. Initially, the requesting Provider would affirm that it intends to pay to the ISAVER Administrator the minimal price set by the Administrator for the requested Provider Option. If such affirmation is forthcoming, then the Administrator will initiate the vendue process,

5. The first step of the Administrator is to analyze the database for all other applicable Providers that may have positively selected the Provider Option. For example, in a medical application of ISAVER, if a Provider in the GEO "United States,California,Los Angeles, Hollywood" desired to obtain an exclusive on some aspect of the Provider Option "internist", all listed internist Providers would result from such analysis,

6. Notification would be made to all such applicable Providers that a vendue for an exclusive Ranking is to occur. The notification would provide the terms and conditions of such vendue. Such terms might include, out of a plethora of possible terms, the following, a. The starting price previously set by the Administrator and agreed to by the requesting Provider, b. The period during which bids will be taken and the increments of such bidding, c. How bids must be paid, d. The term for which the exclusive Ranking(s) are applicable, e. A reference to possible Terms of Service, f. Other conditions of the vendue as determined solely by the Administrator of ISAVER, i. Offering additional Provider Option(s) to losing Providers in similar, or related, callings or markets, ii. Calendaring the next vendue of the same Provider Option for the next date (e. g., when the agreed-upon term according to the Terms of Service had expired) so that the vendue would automatically renew it self to all persons who have registered in the particular GEO.

7. In another aspect, the invention provides for an administrative panel that allows the administrator to manage the system. The administrative panel will provide a system and apparatus for: a. The addition, deletion, and modification of any possible search parameter by the Administrator; b. The modification of the information of the registered Providers; c. The setting of the vendue beginning price of a Provider Option; d. The input of a complete set of search parameters, thereby creating the searchable database, through the import and loading of CSV files; e. The input of the pre-vendue price of an exclusive listing for any possible result of a query of the existing database, through the import and loading of a CSV file; f. The ability to view reports of such things as, but not limited to: i. the currently held exclusive listing, their duration, their cost, and the holder, ii. what transactions have been made, and the currently active vendues and the bid history.

8. One object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby a Provider can input information for the purpose of registering for a listing on the service.

9. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby a Provider can select from a number of pre-determined Provider Options under which to be listed.

10. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby a Provider can select, as a part of the Provider Options, the option for an exclusive listing under pre-determined search parameters.

11. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby a registered Provider has access to a personal website with which the Provider Data can be edited.

12. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby a vendue can be held in the event that one Provider desires exclusivity aspects to a listing.

13. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby any person, in order to find a Provider, can initiate a search of the listings of the system using pre-determined search parameters.

14. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby a person searching the system will be shown all listings that match the search parameters, or the one exclusive, if it is held.

15. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can add, delete, or modify the search parameters.

16. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can modify the information of the registered Providers.

17. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can set the pre- vendue price of an exclusive listing.

18. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can upload the complete search parameters, at one time, through the importation of a CSV file.

19. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can upload the pre-vendue price of an exclusive listing for any possible result of a query of the existing database through the importation of a CSV file. 20. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can view a report of the names of the registered Providers that hold exclusives, the duration, and the cost.

21. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can view a report of the transactions that have been made to date, and the specifics of these transactions, such as Provider name, date, amount of transaction, and subject of transaction.

22. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby, through the administrative panel, the administrator can view a report of the vendues that are both ongoing and completed, and the particulars of each vendue including, the exclusive listing being auctioned, the opening and closing of the vendue, the number of bids, the names of the bidders, the date and time of the bids, the amount of the bids, and the winner, if the vendue has been completed.

23. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method whereby the vendue described herein, and the display of the Provider Option exclusivity, is presented in a multilingual format such that the identical information is displayed in all languages.

E. Brief Description of the Drawings

1. The just summarized invention may be best understood with reference to the drawings of which:

2. FIG. 1 is an overview of one possible embodiment among a plethora of possible embodiments of the present invention, referred to herein as the Abogado.com system 10, showing its internal modules and its external connections to a Provider 600 and a Customer 700.

3. FIG. 2 is a high-level flow chart showing the steps of the presently preferred method for receiving the Provider Data 650 from a Provider 600, processing the Provider Data 650 to assign Normal Listings 321, processing the Provider Data 650 to assign Exclusive Listings 341, and for receiving and processing the Customer Request 750 to display the to the customer the Search Results Page 850.

4. FIG. 3 shows the preferred details associated with receiving the Provider Data 650.

5. FIG. 4 shows the preferred details associated with the initial processing of the Provider Data 650, and the assignment of Normal Listings 321.

6. FIG. 5 shows the preferred details associated with the further processing of the Provider Data 650 to determine the assignment of an Exclusive Listing 341.

7. FIG. 6 shows the preferred details associated with the administration of a Vendue 311 for the rights to an Exclusive Listing 341.

8. FIG. 7 shows the preferred details associated with receiving and processing the Customer Request 750 to display the Search Results Page 850.

9. FIG. 8 shows the preferred Administrative Panel 360 that is used to manage the Abogado.com system 10.

10. FIG. 9 shows the preferred Global Settings 1010 function page of the Administrative Panel 360. 11. FIG. 10 shows the preferred Specialty Management 1020 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

12. FIG. 11 shows the preferred County Management 1030 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

13. FIG. 12 shows the preferred State/Province Management 1040 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

14. FIG. 13 shows the preferred City/Metropolitan Area 1050 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

15. FIG. 14 shows the preferred Registered Provider Management 1060 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

16. FIG. 15 shows the preferred Exclusive Pricing Management 1070 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

17. FIG. 16 shows the preferred CSV - GEO 1110 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

18: FIG. 17 shows the preferred CSV - Price 1120 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

19. FIG. 18 shows the preferred Report: Exclusives 1210 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

20. FIG. 19 shows the preferred Report: Transactions 1220 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

21. FIG. 20 shows the preferred Report: Auctions 1230 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

22. FIG. 21 shows the preferred Report: Bids 1240 function page of the Administrative Panel 360.

24. FIG. 22 & 22a show the preferred Provider Input Page 651 that is used by the Provider 600 to input the Provider Data 650.

25. FIG. 23 shows the preferred Exclusive Input Page 652.

26. FIG. 24 shows the preferred Customer Input Page 751 that is used by the Customer 700 to initiate a query.

27. FIG. 25 shows the preferred Search Results Page - Normal Listing 851.

28. FIG. 26 shows the preferred Search Results Page - Exclusive Listing 852.

29. FIG. 27 shows the preferred Provider Profile Page 853 that displays the Provider Data 650 of the selected Providers 600 that match the search parameters of the Customer 700.

30. FIG. 28 shows the preferred Search Results Page - No Providers Found 854.

31. FIG. 29 shows the preferred email notification that a vendue will be held to determine the allocation of the rights to an exclusive listing.

32. FIG. 30 shows the preferred email notification that a new bid has been placed in a vendue.

33. FIG. 31 shows the preferred email notification that is sent to the losers at the end on a vendue.

34. FIG. 32 shows the preferred email notification that is sent to the winner at the end on a vendue.

F. Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments 1. Turning now to the drawings in detail, illustrated is one possible embodiment of a plurality of potential embodiments, of the present invention. 2. The preferred embodiment of the present invention is a system called Abogado.com. The preferred Abogado.com system 10 uniquely provides a platform for legal service Providers to obtain a listing on a web site, in which they can obtain an exclusive listing though a binding bidding process, referred to herein as a vendue. These listings are contained in a database that can be searched by customers using pre-determined search parameters (i.e. Specialty and GEO), which are uploaded into the database through an Administrative Panel 360.

3. FIG. 1 is an overview of the presently preferred Abogado.com system, including its internal modules and its external connection via the internet to Provider 600 and a Customer 700. FIG. 1 shows classic internet connections where the Provider 600 and the Customer 700 use standard modems 501 to connect to modems 502 maintained by their respective ISP's 500, through which they are connected to the WWW. Through the WWW, Users can connect to the Abogado.com system 10.

4. As shown, the preferred embodiment of the Abogado.com system 10 is comprised of four parts: (1) a Secure Server 100, (2) a Revenue Management Module 200, (3) the Operations Modules 300, and (4) a Secure File Storage Server 400.

5. The Server 100 executes server-side applications to control the operation of the entire system and to provide both a web server and an email server for interacting with Users. The Revenue Management Module 200 is used to receive payment for the services provided. The Server 100 and Revenue Management Module 200 are cooperatively configured so as to permit a Provider to register using a commonly accepted payment vehicle such as a credit card, a system such as PayPal, or other acceptable means for providing for interchange with a real-time payment facility within the Revenue Management Module 200.

6. The Operations Modules 300 are the access points to the database. The sub¬ sections: Vendue 310, Providers 320, Specialty 330, Exclusives 340 and GEO 350 contain the search parameters that allow for the queries of the database to be made, while the Administrative Panel 360 allows for the input, deletion, and modification of the search parameters that the other sub-sections rely on to access the database. This provides for an Administrator-defined system, rather than a User-defined system, in which the Administrator completely controls the search parameters and the information displayed.

7. The preferred Server 100 interfaces with any adapted system which is widely deployed on the internet. The Preferred Abogado.com system 10 is not dependent on any particular internet deployment or utility scheme, such as Unix, Windows MS, Linux, etc. This is because it is a self contained system based upon languages such as Java, C++, HTML, Visual Basic, and other similar software which are operating platform independent.

8. FIG. 2 is a high-level flow chart showing the steps of a preferred method for: receiving the Provider Data 650; processing the Provider Data 650 for a Normal Listing; processing the Provider Data 650 for the granting of an Exclusive Listing 341 ; and processing the Customer Request 750 to display to the Customer 700 the Search Results Page 850. At step 110, the Provider 600 inputs Provider Data 650 into the Provider Input Page 651 submits the Provider Data 650 to the Abogado.com system 10. At step 120, the Provider Data 650 is received and processed by the Abogado.com system 10. At step 130, the allocation of an Exclusive Listing 341 takes place, if (a) available and (b) selected by the Provider 600. At step 140, the System displays to the Customer 700 the Search Results Page 850, with Providers 600 that match the Customer Request 750.

9. FlG. 3 shows the preferred details of the step 110 of FIG. 2, i.e. the input of Provider Data 650 by the Provider. In step 111 , the Provider 600 requests the Provider Input Page 651, shown in FIG. 22, through a web-based browser. In step 112, the data entry objects are displayed on the Provider's Display 601. In step 113,. upon the selection of a country by the Provider 600, the GEO Module 350 limits the choices of State/Province to only those that pertain to the chosen country. Upon the selection of a State/Province, the GEO Module 350 limits the choices for City/Metropolitan Area to only those that pertain to the chosen State/Province. In step 114, the Provider 600 completes the remainder of the form fields. In step 115, the Provider 600 submits the completed Provider Input Page 651. The Provider 600 can choose from only a pre-determined selection of Provider Options under which the listing is to be found. The Provider 600 is unable to create listing options.

10. FIG. 4 shows the preferred details of step 120 of FIG. 2, i.e. the reception and processing of the Provider Data 650 after it is received by the Abogado.com system 10. At step 121, the Server 100 receives the Provider Data 650. At step 122, the Exclusives Module 340 searches the database to determine if the Provider Options chosen in the Provider Data 650 is already taken as an Exclusive Listing 341. If the outcome of step 123 is YES, the Provider 600, in step 124, is prompted to select a different Specialty. If it is NO, the Server checks if the exclusive option was selected in the Provider Data 650. In step 125, if the answer is NO, then the listing is entered into the Provider Module 320 as a Normal Listing 321 in step 126. If the answer to step 125 is YES, the allocation of an Exclusive Listing 341 takes place.

11. FIG. 5 shows the preferred details of step 130 in FIG. 2, i.e. the granting of an Exclusive Listing 341. In step 131, after determining that the exclusive option is available and selected, the Provider 600 is shown the Exclusive Input Page 652. In step 132, the Exclusive Input Page 652 is completed and submitted. In step 133, the Providers Module 320 searches for Providers 600 with the same Provider Options as inputted into the Exclusive Input Page 652. If, in step 134, no matching Providers 600 are found, charges for the Exclusive Listing 341 are posted to the Revenue Management Module 200, step 135, and the Exclusive Listing 341 is posted to the Exclusive Module 340, in step 136. If matching Providers 600 are found in step 132, the Vendue Module 310, in step 137, conducts a Vendue 311 for the rights to the Exclusive Listing 341.

12. FIG. 6 shows the preferred details of step 137 of FIG. 5, i.e. the Vendue 311 for the rights to the Exclusive Listing 341. In step 137a, the Specialty Module 320 searches for Providers 600 whose Provider Options match those inputted into the Exclusive Input Page 652. In step 137b, the Server 100 sends emails, FIG. 29, to all matching Providers 600 indicating that the rights to an Exclusive Listing 341 in their Specialty are up for bid. In step 137c, the Providers 600 are given 48 hours to place bids. In step 137d, competing Providers 600 are notified by email, see FIG. 30, of any new bids. In step 137e, the Provider 600 with the highest bid at the end of the 48 hours wins the rights to the Exclusive Listing 341. In step 137f, The Server 100 sends email notification to all participating Provider's that the Vendue is over, one email message to the winner, see FIG. 33 and one to the losers, see FIG. 32. In step 137g, charges are posted to the Revenue Management Module 200. In step 137h, the Exclusive Listing 341 is posted to the Exclusive Module 340.

13. FIG. 7 shows the preferred details of step 140 of FIG. 2, i.e. the display to the Customer 700 of the Search Results 850. In step 141, the Customer 700 requests Customer Input Page 751 to submit the Customer Request 750. In step 142, the Customer 700 completes and submits the Customer Input Page 751. In step 143, Exclusives Module 340 searches for an Exclusive Listing 341 that matches the Customer Request 750. If in step 144, the answer is YES, the Search Results - Exclusive Listing 852 page is shown to the Customer 700 in step 145. If no exclusive is found, the Provider Module 320, in step 146, searches for any Providers 600 whose Provider Options match the Customer Request 750. If, in step 147 no matching Providers 600 are found, the Customer 700 is displayed the Search Results - No Providers Found 854 page in step 148. If matching Providers 600 are found in step 147, the Search Results - Normal Listings 851 page is shown in step 149. In step 150, the Customer 700 contacts the Provider 600 and the transaction is complete.

14. FIG. 8 shows the index of the preferred Administrative Panel 360. From this page, the administrator can manage the entirety of the Abogado.com system. Each of the hyperlinks on the left hand side of the page brings up a different function of the Administrative Panel. These functions are: Global Settings 1010, Specialty Management 1020, Country Management, 1030, State/Province Management 1040, City/Metropolitan Area Management 1050, Registered Providers 1060, Exclusive Pricing 1070, CSV - GEO 1110, CSV - Prices 1120, Report - Exclusives 1210, Report - Transactions - 1220, Report - Auctions 1230.

15. FIG. 9 shows the preferred details of the Global Settings 1010 function of the Administrative Page 360. This function allows the Administrator to edit settings that apply to the entirety of the Abogado.com system. The Administrator can change: the Administrator's email address by inputting the address into the text input box 1011; the Initial Registration Fee by inputting the value into the text input box 1012, this changes the fee for a Provider to register for the Abogado.com system and to acquire normal listings; the Bid Value by inputting the value into the text input box 1013, this sets the increments of the bids in a vendue; the Vendue Length by inputting the value into the text input box 1014, this is the length of time that Providers have to place bids for the rights to an exclusive listing. To apply the changes, the Administrator must select the Edit button 1015.

16. FIG. 10 shows the preferred details of the function of Specialty Management 1020 of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to create, delete, and modify the specialties stored in the database. The Administrator can create a specialty by inputting the specialty name and the plain language equivalent in the text input boxes 1021 & 1022 and selecting the Create button 1023. The Administrator can modify any specialty by selecting the modify link 1026 next to the desired specialty. This will insert the specialty title and plain language equivalent in the text boxes 1021 & 1022. The Administrator can then change the title or the plain language or chose to remove the specialty by selecting the box next to the word Remove 1025. By selecting the Update button 1024, the modifications will be made and the Specialty Module 330 will be updated.

17. FIG. 11 shows the function of Country Management 1030 of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to create, delete, and modify the countries stored in the database. The Administrator can create a country by inputting the country name in the text input box 1031 and selecting the Create button 1032. The Administrator can modify the name of a country by selecting the modify link 1035 next to the desired country. This will insert the name of the country into the text box 1031. The Administrator can them change the country name, or chose to remove the country by selecting the box next to the word Remove 1034. By selecting the Update button 1033, the modifications will be made and the GEO Module 350 will be updated.

18. FIG. 12 shows the preferred details of the function of State/Province Management 1040 of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to create, delete, or modify states/provinces stored in the database. The Administrator first has to select the country in which the desired state/province is located by choosing the country from the drop down menu 1041 and choosing the Select button 1042. The Administrator will then see the list of states/provinces in the selected country. The Administrator can create a state/province by inputting the state/province name in the text input box 1043 and selecting the Create button 1044. The Administrator can modify the name of a state/province by selecting the modify link 1047 next to the desired state/province. This will insert the name of the state/province into the text box 1043. The Administrator can them change the state/province name, or chose to remove the state/province by selecting the box next to the word Remove 1046. By selecting the Update button 1045, the modifications will be made and the GEO Module 350 will be updated.

19. FIG. 13 shows the preferred details of the function of City/Metropolitan Area Management 1050 of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to create, delete, or modify cities/metropolitan areas stored in the database. The Administrator first has to select the country in which the desired city/metropolitan area is located by choosing the country from the drop down menu 1051. The corresponding states/provinces are loaded into the second drop-down menu 1052, from which the Administrator will select the appropriate state/province and then choose the Select button 1053. The Administrator will then see the list of cities/metropolitan areas that are located in the selected country and state/province. The Administrator can create a city/metropolitan area by inputting the city/metropolitan area name in the text input box 1054 and selecting the Create button 1055. The Administrator can modify the name of a city/metropolitan area by selecting the modify link 1058 next to the desired city/metropolitan area. This will insert the name of the city/metropolitan area into the text box 1043. The Administrator can them change the city/metropolitan area name, or chose to remove the city/metropolitan area by selecting the box next to the word Remove 1057. By selecting the Update button 1056, the modifications will be made and the GEO Module 350 will be updated.

20. FIG. 14 shows the preferred details of the function of Registered Provider Management 1060 of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to modify the Provider Data 650. To modify the Provider Data, the Administrator will select the Modify link 1061 next to the desired Provider. This will bring up the Provider Input Page 651 with the all input boxes filled out with the Provider Data 650. The Administrator can then edit any desired information and select the Edit button. The numbers 1062 on the bottom of the Registered Provider Management page 1060 correspond to the various pages of Registered Providers that can be displayed, 10 per page.

21. FIG. 15 shows the preferred details of the function of Exclusive Pricing Management 1070 of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to modify the price of an Exclusive listing in a specific Specialty and GEO. The Administrator must first choose a country from the drop down menu 1071. The states/provinces of the chosen country will load into the drop down menu 1072. After choosing a state/province, the cities/metropolitan areas will load into the drop down menu 1073. The Administrator will then click the Select button 1074 to display the Exclusive listing price for all specialties in the chosen GEO. The Administrator can then modify the exclusive listing price by entering the value in the text input box 1076 that corresponds to the desired specialty. The Update button 1075 will make the changes and update the Exclusive Module 340.

22. FIG. 16 shows the preferred details of the CSV GEO 1110 function of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to import entire GEO data sets in CSV format. The Administrator can manually input the CSV file path in the text input box 1111 or select the Browse button 1112 which will allow the Administrator to search for the file. When the proper file path is inputted into the text input box 1111 , the Administrator will select the Import button 1113 to import the file to the GEO Module 350.

23. FIG. 17 shows the preferred details of the CSV Price 1120 function of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to import entire price data sets in CSV format. The Administrator can manually input the CSV file path in the text input box 1121 or select the Browse button 1122 which will allow the Administrator to search for the file. When the proper file path is inputted into the text input box 1121, the Administrator will select the Import button 1123 to import the file to the Exclusives Module 340.

24. FIG. 18 shows the preferred details of the Report: Exclusives 1210 function of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to view all of the active Exclusives. The fields that are shown are: Country, State/Province, City/Metropolitan Area, Specialty, Provider, Start Date, End Date, and Cost.

25. FIG. 19 shows the preferred details of the Report: Transactions 1220 function of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to view and keep track of all of the financial transactions that have taken place.

26. FIG. 20 shows the preferred details of the Report: Auctions 1230 function of the Administrative Panel 360. This function allows the Administrator to view and keep track of all Vendues that are both completed and ongoing. By clicking the hyperlink on the Start Price 1221 of any Vendue the Administrator can examine the Bids 1230 of the Vendue more closely.

27. FIG. 21 shows the preferred details of the Report: Bids 1230 function of the Administrative Panel 630 that is accessible by clicking the link 1221 in the Report: Auctions 1220 function. This function allows the Administrator to view the progress of an ongoing Vendue and to see the bid history of a completed one.

28. FIGS. 22 & 22a show the preferred Provider Input Page 751. This is used by the Provider 600 to submit the Provider Data 650.

29. FIG. 23 shows the preferred Exclusive Input Page 652. This is used by the Provider 600 to select which type of Exclusive Listing 341 is desired.

30. FIG. 24 shows the preferred Customer Input Page 751. This is used by the Customer 700 submit the Customer Request 650.

31. FIG. 25 shows the preferred Search Results - Normal Listing 851. This is displayed to the Customer 700 when the Customer Request b results in Providers 600 that hold Normal Listings 321.

32. FIG. 26 shows the preferred Search Results - Exclusive Listing 852. This is displayed to the Customer 700 when the Customer Request 750 results in a Provider 600 that holds an Exclusive Listing 341.

33. FIG. 27 shows the preferred Provider Profile Page 853. This displays to the Customer 700 the Provider Data 650. It is displayed to the Customer 700 after a Provider 600 is selected from one of the Search Results pages.

35. FIG. 28 shows the preferred Search Results - No Providers Found 854. This is displayed to the Customer 700 when the Customer Request 750 does not result in any listing.

36. FIG. 29 shows the preferred Vendue Initial Notification. This is sent to all

Providers 600 when the Provider Option which they have selected is desired as an Exclusive Listing 341.

37. FIG. 30 shows the preferred Vendue Bid Notification. This is sent to all participating Providers 600 in a Vendue 311 when a new bid is made.

38. FIG. 31 shows the preferred Vendue Loser Notification. This is sent to all participating Providers 600 who do not win the Vendue 311.

39. FIG. 32 shows the preferred Vendue Winner Notification. This is sent to the participating Provider 600 who wins the Vendue 311.

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