Verizon hints at coupon distribution plan with patent filing

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has filed a patent to distribute television product/service coupon codes to a set-top box (STB), according to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. While the telco filed the patent in July 2008, it was only published this week.

"The systems and/or methods may receive, from the STB, a request for a promotion associated with the advertisement and the identification associated with the STB, and may provide the code and the instruction associated with the product/service to the STB," Verizon wrote in the patent filing.

In this proposed invention, a device, which in this case would be a TV, "receives, from a user device, a claim for the code and the identification associated with the STB, and validates the claim for the code and the identification associated with the STB based on an identification associated with the user device."

While coupon codes, which can be presented in the form of an Internet coupon, have a number of benefits including a "reduced cost or free shipping [or] a specific dollar or percentage discount," Verizon said companies currently can't use TV as a "distribution channel for coupon codes." One of the key issues in broadcasting codes via TV is that the codes can be copied onto the Internet and misused, affecting legitimate users.

If this system were commercialized, companies could begin to use television to distribute coupon codes for their products and services to consumers directly in their living rooms.

Verizon wrote that the proposed invention would also prevent coupon code misuse, particularly posting the coupon code on the Internet, in addition to preventing "minors from requesting inappropriate products and/or services associated with the coupon code. it could also guarantee that the coupon will be redeemed in a specific time frame.

For more:
- here's the patent filing

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