Poynt is a local search provider that works on mobile phones. If you run a search for something using Poynt, it returns the closest results to you. Today it is announcing that it has been awarded a patent for using consumer’s location to deliver relevant coupons and offers to them.
What’s the story?
Poynt works around key-word search. If you’re looking for a cinema, you simply run a search for “cinema”, and it will return the cinema’s that are geographically closest to you.
Poynt has been in the location business for some time now, and has built a whole service platform around the idea. Along with search results, it serves location advertising for brands – including coupons or special offers. It also has handy little extra’s for users, like like local gas prices and a 5-day weather report.
What’s the patent?
Patent No. 7,870,229 for “a computer-implemented method for communicating an offer of goods or services to an individual having a microcomputer wirelessly linked to the internet and provided with a GPS receiver”.
This patent covers a service that Poynt launched last year, called Poynt Offer Engine (see our report). Basically, it allows a shop to create a “geo-fence” around it’s location. Whenever a Poynt user crosses one of the fences into the area, they’ll be pinged the relevant deal. So a pizza restaurant with a special offer for meals could push deals to opted-in Poynters when they got close enough during lunch. Important here are the words “without specific request by the individual”, which appear in the patent. If you’re an opted-in Poynt user, you’ll get sent the deal.
The patent only covers GPS location, so Poynt has no hold over cell tower or WiFi triangulation .
What we think?
Ah, mobile patents. What a messy, messy terrain they make. I can only assume that Poynt isn’t going to be going around enforcing this patent – it’s too handy for using as a defense. This patent is very similar to the one Google got last year – except the Google patent was for the delivery of banner ads, rather than coupons (see our report).