Dating website patents

Another company with a very similar name, Spark Network Services SNS , held a very similar patent to matching profiles based on compatibility , awarded in the same era. In other words, Mr.

How Can You Patent a Dating Website? An Explainer | | Observer

Egan says that this Techcrunch report is incorrect, because the company never sued 2RedBeans, an Asian immigrant-focused dating service. Spring Street Networks had a similar model, before it all fell apart. If JDate were to win this fight, it would probably be because JSwipe ran out of money. Odds are, it would happen before trial. So the technology community would miss out on a chance for the courts to offer additional instruction on their interpretation of Alice.

One entrepreneur in the dating business who asked to remain nameless said that it would earn the company a reputation in the dating community as patent trolls. JDate, our entrepreneur said, is at an inflection point. Its average number of paying customers is lower now than it was in The company had strong but expensive growth from to on its Christian dating site, but lost about half of it the next year.

We own two patents. We explained that Friday. It would only talk about the outcome of the latter suit. Zoosk apparently settled out of court with Spark. So is this how tech ventures are going to go out henceforth? Dying by degrees, but using old patents to take a few challengers out in the courts as they go?

A previous version of this story quoted Mr. But advertising revenue helps support our journalism.

To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker. We'd really appreciate it. Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain. Amy and Jason, a JDate success story. How Do I Whitelist Observer? Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist Observer. For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome: Further, in response the web server 11 returns a query form page initiating a process for completing the subscriber profile.

For example, in accordanc with alternative embodiments, Figures l la and l lb depict exemplary web page displays that may notify the user that this process has begun. However, in the presently described embodiment, the user has a choice of completing selected portions of a player profile. In that case, the player profile completion process is initiated with a screen such as Figure 11, which depicts an exemplary web page with image maps with conventional displayed "buttons" The exemplary web page of Figure 11 allows entry of a relationship basics choice, a friendship preferences choice or a screen image icon choice.

That is, the displayed buttons correspond to "relationship basics," "friendship preferences," or "screen image icon" choices.

CA2364959A1 - Web-based dating service - Google Patents

The "relationship basics" information selection initiates a process allowing the user to specify those qualities he or she desires in a mate. The "friendship preferences" choice initiates a process allowing the user to spxify those qualities he or she desires in a friend. Finally, the "screen image icon" choice allows a user to specify a graphics image corresponding to the user that is displayed for the benefit of other participants whenever the user participates in chat sessions facilitated at the web site The screen image icon may be an actual picture of the user or may be chosen from a predefined set of icons maintained by the site provider.

DATF '03 PATENT In Step , if the user has selected the "relationship basics" choice, then the web server 11 returns a web page query form allowing entry of a first set of information specifying the qualities the user desires in a mate. For example, Figure 12 depicts an exemplary web page interface allowing user entry of a first set of "relationship basics" information.

Here, the "seeking" field allows entry a gender for the desirable mate. The "I prefer to meet people" field allows the user to specify that he wishes to date only individuals in his city, region or country, as the case may be. The web server 11 can use this information in conjunction with information specifiai in the "postal code" and "county" fields to determine the geographic area within which the user desires to find a 1o mate.

The desired age range field allows the user to specify the age range of the user's desired mate. Thus, in Step ; the user specifies user's date of birth, user's gender, mate's desired gender, age criteria for desired mate, user's country, and geographic criteria for desired mate information and causes the browser eltment to forward the selections to the 1 s site provider's web server The web server 11, in turn, receives the user request and extracts and stores data corresponding to the user's selected choices in a user profile.

Further, in response, in step , the web server 11 returns a query form page allowing the entry of still fiuther information specifying the qualities the user desires in a mate. For example, Figure 13 depicts an exemplary web page interface allowing user entry of a 2o second set of "relationship basics" information. Here, the "religions I prefer to date" , field allows entry of a religions for the user's desirable mate.

DAT1 03 PATENT Thus, in Step , the user specifies information in the "My religion is," "Religions I prefer to date" and "religions I prefer not to date" fields and causes the browser element to forward the selections to the site provider's web server 11, thus completing the user specification of the relationship basics portion of the profile. Note s that in alternative embodiments, the relationship basics may be selected and forwarded to the web server 11 two, four or any other number of screens. For example, in accordance with an alternative embodiment, Figs. In accordance with yet another alternative embodiment, Figs.

In this alternative embodiment, the user may also selxt and forward a relationship type i. The web server 11 also returns a web the page as in Step allowing entry of a relationship basics choice, a friendship preferences choice or a screen image icon choice as exemplified in Figure Here, each of three menus allow specification of multiple areas of interest that can be later compared with areas of interest of other site participants to determine compatibility with the user. Note that in the presently described embodiment the items selected in the second and third columns displayed in Figure 14 will be different than those selected in the first column.

Note also that in alternative embodiments, the area of interest information may be selected and forwarded to the web server 11 with two, three or any other number of screens.

Thus, when the user has selected the "screen image" choice, in Step 20 , the web sever 11 returns a web page query form allowing entry of a set of information cotresponding to a screen icon representing the users. Figure 15 depicts an exemplar of such a web page interface. The interface provides a series of predefined screen icons from which the user may choose.

In an alternative embodiment, the user creates a digital photo of him or herself e. Once the user's relationship. For example, upon logging on as an existing subscriber the user may choose the "relationship basics," "friendship preferences," or "screen image" choices, as in step of Figure 3, to re-define those restive aspects of the profile. Each time the profile is redefined in this manner an updated version of the profile is stored on the web server 11 or in a database associated 1 s with the web server 11 maintained by the site provider.

In addition, upon logging on as an existing subscriber the user can take advantage of the relationship facilitation services provided by the dating related web site. For example, in the presently described embodiment, upon logging in as an existing user, the user is presented with a screen such as that depicted in Figure 21 allowing the user to take 2o advantage of on line chat room and other services facilitated by the dating related web site. In that event, the user ca send e-mails to such other players that seem interesting. If the user selects the "Enter Chat Room" button, the user is presented with the ability to arrive at a desired chat room envimnment by navigating to a chat room with participants having relative compatibility with the user.

This navigation is made easier by the hierarchical organizations of chat rooms featured at the dating related web site. In particular, in the presently described embodiment, the chat rooms are organized into sub-lobbies, which in turn are organized into lobbies. In an advantageous aspect of the present invention, the lobbies each correspond to a broad category of conversation topic to characterizing the subject of the chat in each chat mom within the lobby. Further, each room within a sub-lobby features sub-topics of conversation falling within the broad topic; associated with the lobby within which the sub-lobby is organized.

A user can thus find a chat room featuzing an optimal chat topic by selecting a broad topic of interest e.

In this way, the user's selection of chat rooms may be based 2o not only on a favorable topic of conversation featured at the chat room, but also on the likelihood that a greater percentage of participants are compatible with the user. For example, Figure 4 depicts a process of subscriber navigation to a desirable chat room in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

This step depicted in greater detail in Figure 5 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In particular, in Step of Figure 5, the web server 11 first retrieves the user's profile from storage in a database. In the presently described embodiment, the user's pmfile is filled completely as describe above in connection with Figure 3, though in other embodiments the profile may be partially filled with only relationship related information or only friendship related information.

Next, in Step , the web server 11 retrieves a first lobby from a stored set of lobbies e. In particular, data corresponding to the set of lobbies is t5 preferably stored in a relational database configured with associations or links specifying the hierarchical relationship between lobbies, sub-lobbies within lobbies and rooms within sub-lobbies as described above. Once the first lobby is retrieved e. In particular, "Participants," "Relationship Matches," and "Friendship Matches" variables are set to zero.

Next in Step , the first sub-lobby within the retrieved lobby having an active chat room is retrieved from the relational database of lobby, sub-lobby and chat room information. Next in Step , the web server 11 retrieves the first active chat room within the retrieved sub-lobby from the relational database of lobby, sub-lobby and chat room information. To perform this task, the web server 11 also checks which chat moms within the current sub-lobby are active.

At the same time, the "Participants" variables for the current lobby, sub-lobby, and room are incremented by one in Step ' and the participant's profile stored at the web server 11 or associated database is retrieved for comparison with user's. In particular, in Step the web server 11 is compares the participant's pmfile to the user's to determine whether there is a relationship match between the two.

An exemplary pmcess for determining whether there is a relationship match between two subscribers of the dating-related web site in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is described more full in connection with Figure 7A below. If such a procedure returns a relationship match, then 2o the "Relationship Matches" variables for the current lobby, sub-lobby and room are also incremented by one.

Similarly , in Step the web server 11 compares the participant's profile to the user's to determine the degree to which there is a friendship match between the two. An exemplary process for determining the degree of friendship compatibility between two subscribers of the dating-related web site, as well as the threshold degree of compatibility necessary: In Step , the web server 11 determines whether the current participant is the last in the currently considered chat room.

If not then the next participant in the room is retrieved along with a corresponding profile and the process of Steps is repeated. Thus, once the web server 11 detttanines during an iteration of Step that there are no more participants, in Step the web server determines the concentration of.

Thai is, a "Relationship Match Concentration" variable for the current room is set to the number of relationship matches over the number of participants and is stored for future retrieval at the web server 11 or an associated database. Similarly, a "Friendship Match Concentration" variable for the current room is set to the number of friendship matches over the number of participants 2o in the room and is stored. Next, in Step , the web server 11 determines whether the current room is the last in the currently considered sub-lobby.

If not then the next room in the sub-lobby is retrieved and the process of Steps is repeated. This ensures that relationship match and friendship match concentration data for each room in the sub-lobby is stored and also eventually yields the number of participants in the sub-lobby, the number of such participants that are relationship matches and the ni: Thus, once the web server 11 determines during an iteration of Step that there are no more rooms in the sub-lobby, in Stcp , the web server can determine the concentration of relationship matches and friendship matches in the sub-lobby processed.

That is, a "Relationship Match Concentration" variable for the current sub-Lobby is set to the number of relationship 1o matches in the sub-lobby over the number of participants in the sub-lobby and is stored for future retrieval at the web server 11 or an associated database. Similarly, a "Friendship Match Concentration" variable for the current sub-lobby is set to the number of friendship matches for the current sub-lobby over the number of participants in the current sub-lobby and is stored.

If not then the next sub-lobby in the current lobby is retrieved and the process of Steps is repeated.

Must Reads

In this way the process is repeated for each sub-lobby of rooms in the currently considered lobby. This ensures that relationship match and friendship match concentration data for each room in each 2o sub-lobby in the currently considered lobby is stored and also eventually yields the number of participants in the current lobby, the number of such participants that are relationship matches and the number of such participants that are friendship matches: That is, a "Relationship Match Concentration" variable for the current lobby is set to the number of relationship matches in the lobby over the number of participants in the lobby and is stored for future retrieval at the web server 11 or an associated database.

Similarly, a "Friendship Match Concentration" variable for the current lobby is set to the number of friendship matches for the current lobby over the number of participants in the current lobby and is stored. Finally, in Step , the web server 11 determines whether the current lobby is 1o the last. In this way the process is repeated for each lobby of sub-lobbies having active chat rooms. This ensures that relationship match and friendship match concentration data for each room and sub-lobby of rooms in each lobby, as well as for each lobby, is eventually stored, completing is the process.

Once the server 11 determines during an iteration of Step that there are no more lobbies, the process ends in Step Thus, now turning back to Figure 4, the web server 11 having determined and stored the concentration of compatible friends and potential mates in each active room, sub-lobby and lobby, the process of subscriber navigation to a desirable chat room may 2o begin.

That is, in Step , in response to an "Enter Chat Room" selection by an existing subscriber the web server 11 returns a query form page initiating a process for navigating through the available chat room lobbies. For example, Figure 16 depicts an exemplary web page with image maps with conventional displayed "buttons" corresponding to these choices. Figure 16a depicts a similar web page in accordance with an alternative embodiment. As noted above, the lobbies are preferably stored in a relational database specifying the associations amongst lobbies, sub-lobbies and rooms.

Also, in a further aspect of the present embodiment, the web page of Figure 16 also displays indicators showing the concentration of compatible friends and mates in each active lobby. Here, the displayed indicators comprise one to three check marks reflecting the concentration of 1o compatible mates and one to three green lights reflecting the concentration of compatible friends. Again, this information relating to the concentration of compatible participants is derived firm the concentration variables stored in Step of Figure 4 and detenninod v in accordance with the discussion of Figure 5.

JDate holds a patent to anonymous matchmaking on computers, but would it hold up in court?

By providing for the display of indicators showing the concentration of likely compatible friends and mate, the dating related web t s site allows more informed user navigation to a desired chat room. In the presently described embodiment, the user selects the "sports lounge" choice in Step and, in response, in Step the web server 11 returns a web page allowing entry of a sports "football" sub-lobby choice, "hockey" sub-lobby choice, 'basketball" sub-lobby choice, "coach recently fired at MSU" sub-lobby choice and 20 "drug testing" sub-lobby choice.

For example, Figure 17 depicts an exemplary web page with image maps with conventional displayed 'buttons" corresponding to these choices. The first three choices, "football," "hockey," and "basketball," refer to sub-topics of discussion involving particular sports within the broader category of the "sports" topic a4 DOCKET NO.: The last two choices, "Coach fired at MSU" and "drug testing," refer to sub-topics of conversation involving currently controversial sport-related issues within the broader category of the "sports" topic chosen.

Also, as with Figure 16, the web page also displays indicators showing the concentration of compatible friends and mates in each active sub-lobby within the chosen "sports" lobby. Again, the displayed indicators comprise ono to three check marks reflecting the concentration of compatible mates and one to three green lights reflecting the concentration of compatible friends. And again, by providing for the display of indicators showing the concentration of likely compatible friends and.

For example, Figure 18 depicts an exemplary wed page with query form fields and image maps with conventional displayed "buttons" corresponding to these choices. If the user specifies a room number in the query field aad selects the manual navigation choice, the web server 11 determines a chat room in accordance with the user's choice in step DATE '3 PATENT then in Step the web server 11 determines a chat room using an algorithm for automatically deternining a chat room within the selected sub-lobby having optimally compatible participants. Turning now to Figure 6, it shows an exemplary method for automatically determining for the user, given a selected sub-lobby, a chat room having optimally compatible participants.

In particular, the exemplary process is initiated in Steps and , with "MaxPoints" and "Room Chosen" variables initialized to zero and "none," respectively. Next in Step the next room that is, the first room in the first iteration in the 1o sub-lobby is retrieved by the web server In Step a "Room Points" variable for the retrieved room is set to zero and in Step the current room is identified as the room retrieved. Next in Step the next participant that is, the first participant in the first iteration in the retrieved room is retrieved by the server In Steps and , the is web server determines whether the user and the retrieved participant are a relationship match, the extent to which the user and the retrieved participant are likely compatible on a friendship level and whether or not the level of friendship compatibility exceods certain thresholds.

In particular, as depicted in Steps , the web server 11 uses the profiles of the retrieved participant and user to determine if either: If all of these conditions arc false, then in Step a "Relationship Match" variable is set to true and in Step the "Relationship Match" variable is returned indicating a relationship match between the user and participant.

Otherwise, if any one of the conditions considered in Steps is true, the "Relationship Match" variable is set to to "false" in Step and is returned in Step indicating no relationship match exists between the user and participant. Turning now to Figure 7B, it shows in greater detail the slap of determining the extent to which the user and the retrieved participant are compatible on a friendship level and whether or not the level of friendship compatibility exceeds certain thresholds as is depicted in Step of Figure 6.

In particular, in Steps and , the "Points Earned" and "Points Possible" variables are initialized to zero. In Steps through , the web server 11 cycles through each area of interest specified by either the user or the participant. Such areas of interest G. For "sports" may have an associated value of 50 points, while "books" may have an associated value of points. In Step , the web server 11 retrieves the next area of interest specified by either the user or participant.

If both the user and the participant specified the area of interest e. Otherwise, in Step , if only one of the user or participant have the area of interest in their profiles, only the "Points Possible" variable is incremented by the weight value of the area of interest. Preferably such associations are 2o implemented with links in a relational database storing the area of interest combinations. In the presently described embodiment, the areas of intcrtst combinations are created by the site provider to account for the fact that two individuals may have similar areas of interest even if they do not specify an identical area of interest.

DATE- 3 PATENT participant that specified "skiing" as an area of interest may have interests similar to a participant specifying other winter sports, such as "hockey" as an interest. If the site provider determines that this would in general be the case, then the area of interest combination "skiing-hockey" can be included in the relational database. Further, as with areas of interest, the web server 11 of the presently described embodiment, or a database associated with the web server 11, also includes records associating weighting values i. For example, a "skiing-hockey" area of interest combination may have an associated point value of 20 points while a "movie-theatre" are of interest combination may have an associated point value of 10 points.

As with the weighting of areas of interest, the weighting values associated with area of interest combinations allow the site provider to prioritize the importance of area interest combinations and their respective impact on the compatibility determination e. In Step , the web server 11 retrieves the next area of interest combination in a database. In Step , the web 2o server 11 checks if there are other area of interest combinations in the database storing this information and, if so, processing begins again with Step and continues until all area of interest combinations in the database have been processed.

The "Percentage Match" variable indicates the degree to which there is a friendship compatibility between the user and participant. Next, in Step , the "Percentage Match" value is discretized by characterizing the level of friendship compatibility into one of three categories. That is, if the "Percentage Match" value is greater than or equal to a certain threshold value e. Otherwise, if the "Percentage Match" value is less than the threshold value but greater than or equal to another threshold value. Otherwise, if the "Percentage Match" value is less than both threshold values, the "Friendship Match" variable is set to "red" indicating a low degree of friendship compatibility between the user and participant.

For example, in the following psuedocode, data is stored for each registered player corresponding to that 2o player's interest. The data is structured such that each such interest is also stored with four similar or often related interests, thus also specifying four area of interest combinations formed partly by the players interest. For example, the following: Once such a data structure with corresponding data is created for each interest for each player, the following may be used to determine whether a user and retrieved participant are compatible friends: In Step the server 11 checks whether the participant retrieved in Step is the last participant in the retrieved room, If there are additional participants, Steps are repeated so that all participants in the retrieved room are processed.

Once all participant in the retrieved room have been processed, in Step , the 1o server 11 determines whether the value of "Room points" for the retrieved room exceeds the value currently stored in the "MaxPoints" variable. Note that this condition will always be satisfied for the first room retrieved in the process depicted in Figure 6. If so, then the "MaxPoints" variable is set to the "Room points" value for the retrieved room and the "Room Chosen" variable is set to the retrieved room.

Next is Step the server is 11 determines whether the retrieved room is the last to be processed in the selected sub-lobby. If there are additional rooms in the selected sub-lobby, then steps through are repeated until all rooms in the selected sub-lobby have been retrieved and processed.

In this way, "MaxPoints" is always set to the "RoomPoints" value for the room having the greatest "Room Points" while "Room Chosen" is assigned a value identifying that 20 room. Finally, in Step the "Room Chosen" variable is returned as an indicator of the chat room having the most optimally compatible participants. DATE- 3 PATENT Turning back to the user navigation process of Figure 4, in Step , once the chat room is determined, whether automatically in accordance with the "Room Chosen" variable discussed in connection with Figure 6 or manually by the user, the web server 11 or a chat server finally serves a page representation of a chat room environment corresponding to the chat room determined in Step or 4s0.

The page representing a chat room environment may also be generated locally by chat software on the client In addition note that the chat server and web server may represent respective software components on a single physical server. An exemplary page representing a chat environment and facilitating an Internet relay in accordance with the presently described 1o embodiment is shown in Figures 19 an 19a.

Internet Relay Chat is known in the art as a conventional way for Internet subscribers to "chat" with one another via keyboards 19s in real time. To facilitate this process, the client 20 may have any chat client software installs thereon that connects to a chat server. In the presently described embodiment, the user's client 20 has chat client is software installed that may be downloaded from the dating related web site in conventional fashion.

The client 20 is also connected and logged on to a chat server and channel upon receipt of the chat room page of Figurel9 and 19a. In Figures 19 and 19c, the messages are viewed from the large center window depicted. In conventional fashion, the chat server is connxted in the Internet with other 2o chat servers in conventional "spanning tree" fashion shown in Figure 20 to speed the transmission of participant messages from server to server.

User messages are sent from the keyboard by the client chat software to the connected chat server and are then broadcast from chat server to other chat servers to which participants have access. PATENT Messages are thus broadcast to the client software of other participants logged in to the chat room selected in real time, and such participants have the same ability to generate and broadcast messages. In the presently described embodiment, as in a typical chat roam environment, each message is associated with a handle identifying the sender of the message.

Further, in an advantageous aspect of the present invention, in addition to screen names, the screen image icons stored in participant profiles ate also associated with the chat participants in the chat environment depicted in Figure Again, these icons may represent pre-defined icons that allow the participants to maintain anonymity, or actual photos of the participants as shown in the alternative chat room environment depicted in Fig. Further as depicted in Figure 19, in the exemplary chat environment illustrated, if there is a relationship match between the user and a participant, then a chccwill be shown in the t 5 relationship possibility indicator displayed with the screen icon, screen name and gender of the participant.

In the presently described embodiment, the web server 11 determines whether there is a relationship match among chat participants in accordance with the exemplary algorithm discussed in connection with Figure 7A.

Again, in the presently described embodiment, the web server 11 may determine the extent of friendship compatibility. In a fiuther advantageous aspect of a chat environment featured in the presently described embodiment, the web server 11 or chat server will continually monitor the profiles of all players on the system and advise the participants when rooms develop that have more Friendship or Relationship matches than the chat in which they are currently participating.

This determination may be derived by repeatedly executing an algorithm such as the exemplary algorithm discussed in connection with Figure 5. In particular, apart from the "Send" button for sending normal chat messages, the screen in Figure 19b also features a "Send Private Message" button.

Your Answer

When the user selects the button while participating in a chat session, the web server 11 or chat server responds by forwarding data corresponding to a screen such as that shown in Figure 19c. Next, in the presently described embodiment, the user elects to send a private message and a "Send a Private Message Screen" is caused to be served from the web sever 11 or chat server. An exemplary screen interface is depicted in Figure 19d. This screen allows the user to specify a private message which is sent to only the recipient indicated in the "Player Name" field.

The web server chat server 11 maintains a network address listing for the computer of each participant in the chat room and maintains associations between participant identifiers and corresponding network addresses in accordance with techniques known in the art. Thus, the web server chat server 11 can complete the private message by causing the message to be sent only to the computer corresponding to the recipient specified by the sender.

In this way, participants can conduct private virtual conversations that may express interests and feelings they do not wish to make public. Once participaats engage in such a private conversation, they may decide to use the sites virtual dating facility. Thus, turning now to Figure 8, in Step , one of the two conversants decides to book a private room. To do so, the player selects the "Book a Private Room" button shown in Figure 19d.

In response the web server 11 chat server serves data corresponding to a screen such as that shown in Figure 19e. The screen gives the player the option of booking a room and inviting another player to the private room. Again, this is accomplished as the web server 11 maintains lists of network addresses and corresponding participants for each participant in the chat room. In the present described embodiment, the invite player selects the "Accept" 2o button. In response, in Step , data corresponding to a screen such as that shown in Figure 19g is served to both players' computers.

The page allows the players to engage in a private chat. The screen provides choices corresponding to virtual activities the players may engage in. Again, all the while the while chat server 11 allows the players to participate in a private chat.