Auction system and method

US 10 417 698B2

drawing #0

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The present system and method provides a unique and fast-paced method of auctioning multiple units concurrently. An auction group is created within the server, being made up of a plurality of, preferably homologous, units. All units within the auction group are concurrently auctioned in a primary auction, with each unit being bid upon within cooccurring separate sub-auctions within an auction period. Each bidding user has the opportunity to bid within one or more sub-auctions. Upon receiving a high bid within a particular sub-auction, a high bid period for that sub-auction is initiated, within which a counterbid must be received or the unit within that sub-auction will be awarded to the high bidding user. The sub-auctions may individually end prior to the expiration of the auction period. Successive primary auctions can be initiated, so that the user may obtain one or more units within each primary auction.

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Claims

1. A method of concurrently auctioning a first unit and a second unit, under control of one or more computing systems configured with executable instructions, the method comprising the steps of:
grouping, by the server, the first unit and the second unit into an auction group comprising the first unit and the second unit, wherein the auction group is homologous and wherein the auction group is a player position on a virtual team, the first unit is a first virtual player and the second unit is a second virtual player;
communicating, from a server, the auction group with a first description of the first unit and a second description of the second unit, to a first computing device associated with a first user profile and a second computing device associated with a second user profile;
granting permission, by the server, to the first user profile and the second user profile, to concurrently place bids on the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction during the auction period, where competing bids can be placed on the first unit within the first sub-auction and the second unit within the second sub-auction;
initiating, by the server, an auction period for the auction group, during which competing bids are received from the first computing device and the second computing device, a first sub-auction being restricted to the first unit and a second sub-auction being restricted to the second unit, the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction occurring during the auction period;
receiving, from the first computing device and the second computing device, competing bids on the first unit within the first sub-auction;
receiving, from the first computing device, a high bid on the first unit; and
communicating, from the server, an award notification to the first computing device and the second computing device, the award notification awarding the first unit to the first user profile and the second unit to the second user profile.

Show 8 dependent claims

10. A method of concurrently auctioning a first unit and a second unit, under control of one or more computing systems configured with executable instructions, the method comprising the steps of:
communicating, by the server, a homologous auction group to a first computer and a second computer, the first computer associated with a first user profile and the second computer associated with a second user profile, the homologous auction group comprising the first unit and the second unit, wherein the auction group is a player position on a virtual team, the first unit is a first virtual player and the second unit is a second virtual player;
initiating, by the server, an auction period, a first sub-auction and a second sub-auction at least partially co-occurring during the auction period, the first sub-auction being restricted to the first unit and a second sub-auction being restricted to the second unit; and
communicating permission, by the server, to the first computer and the second computer, to each concurrently place bids on the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction during the auction period, where competing bids are placed on the first unit within the first sub-auction and the second unit within the second sub-auction; and
communicating, from the server, an award notification to the first computer and the second computer, the award notification awarding the first virtual player to the first user profile and the second virtual player to the second user profile.

Show dependent claim

Description

This application claims the priority date of provisional application No. 62/104,004 filed on Jan. 15, 2015, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure relates generally to auctions for bidding on virtual or real items, and more particularly, bidding on groups of items.

Auctions are often fast-moving and exciting. However, the ability to increase the number of items auctioned during a given period is limited by current auction methods. A method of auctioning a number of items concurrently is needed to increase the speed and excitement of the auction process.

SUMMARY

A method of concurrently auctioning a first unit and a second unit, under control of one or more computing systems configured with executable instructions, is presented herein. The present method and system enables the speedy and exciting auction of multiple units within an auction group, where each bidder has the opportunity to bid and be awarded one or more units within the auction group. The users can bid on successive and separate auction groups of units, preferably being awarded one unit per auction group. The units obtained by each user bidding in each of a succession of auction groups can be combined together into a team of units, preferably one unit is obtained in each auction group.

In a first embodiment, the present method includes the steps of communicating, from the server, a homologous auction group to a first computer and a second computer, the homologous auction group includes the first unit and the second unit; initiating, by the server, an auction period, with a first sub-auction and a second sub-auction at least partially cooccurring during the auction period, the first sub-auction being restricted to the first unit and a second sub-auction being restricted to the second unit; and communicating permission, from the server, to the first computer and the second computer, to each concurrently place bids on the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction during the auction period, where competing bids can be placed on the first unit within the first sub-auction and the second unit within the second sub-auction.

Optionally, the auction group is a player position on a virtual team, the first unit is a first virtual player and the second unit is a second virtual player. An award notification is communicated from the server to the first computer and the second computer, the award notification awarding the first virtual player to the first user profile and the second virtual player to the second user profile. A second auction period is initiated by the server, where a third sub-auction and a fourth sub-auction at least partially cooccur during the second auction period; the first sub-auction is restricted to a third virtual player and a second sub-auction being restricted to a fourth virtual player, where the second auction period being carried out by similar steps to the auction period. A second award notification is communicated from the server to the first computer and the second computer, the second award notification awarding the third virtual player to the first user profile and the fourth virtual player to the second user profile. A first user team is assembled by the server including the first virtual player and the third virtual player. A second user team is assembled by the server including the second virtual player and the fourth virtual player.

In yet another embodiment, a method of concurrently auctioning a first unit and a second unit is presented. The method can include the steps of grouping, by the server, the first unit and the second unit into an auction group comprising the first unit and the second unit; communicating, from a server, the auction group with a first description of the first unit and a second description of the second unit, to a first computing device associated with a first user profile and a second computing device associated with a second user profile; initiating, by the server, an auction period for the auction group, during which competing bids are permitted to be received from the first computing device and the second computing device, a first sub-auction being restricted to the first unit and a second sub-auction being restricted to the second unit, the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction occurring during the auction period; granting permission, by the server, to the first user profile and the second user profile, to concurrently place bids on the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction during the auction period, where competing bids can be placed on the first unit within the first sub-auction and the second unit within the second sub-auction; receiving, from the first computing device and the second computing device, competing bids on the first unit within the first sub-auction; receiving, from the first computing device, a high bid on the first unit; and communicating, from the server, an award notification to the first computing device and the second computing device, the award notification awarding the first unit to the first user profile and the second unit to the second user profile.

Optionally, the auction group is homologous. The auction group may also be a player position on a virtual team, where the first unit is a first virtual player and the second unit is a second virtual player.

The method can optionally further include the steps of receiving, from the first computing device and the second computing device, competing bids on the second unit within the second sub-auction; and receiving, from the second computing device, a second computing device high bid on the second unit. The auction group may further comprises a third unit, a third sub-auction being restricted to the third unit, the third unit not being awarded if a bid is not received within the third sub-auction. The method may further include the steps of granting permission, by the server, to the first user profile, the second user profile, and a third user profile associated with a third computing device, to further concurrently place bids on a third sub-auction during the auction period, where competing bids can be further placed on the third unit within the third sub-auction; failing to receive a third computing device high bid, from the third computer, on the first sub-auction, second sub-auction, and the third sub-auction; and communicating, from the server, a default award notification to the first computing device, the second computing device, and the third computing device, the default award notification awarding the third unit to the third user profile.

The step of receiving a high bid on the first unit can optionally further include initiating a first sub-auction high bid period, during which the second user profile is granted permission, by the server, to place a counterbid on the first unit. The server may set a first sub-auction first minimum bid increment on the first sub-auction. The method may further include the steps of receiving, from the second computing device, the counterbid on the first unit; initiating a first sub-auction second high bid period, during which the first user profile is granted permission, by the server, to place a second counterbid on the first unit; receiving, from the first computing device, the second counterbid on the first unit; initiating a first sub-auction third high bid period, during which the second user profile is granted permission, by the server, to place a third counterbid on the first unit; ending the first sub-auction third high bid period when the third counterbid is not received, by the server, from the second computer; and terminating, by the server, permission to place bids within the first sub-auction, while continuing permission to place bids within the second sub-auction. As an option, prior to the step of terminating permission to place bids within the first sub-auction, the server may set a second sub-auction first minimum counterbid increment on the first sub-auction.

A current high bid can optionally be received, by the server, on the first unit within the first sub-auction transmitted through either the first user profile or the second user profile during the auction period, the current high bid capable of being exceeded by a counterbid, where the steps further include receiving bid activity during a predetermined time period just prior to an end of the auction period; and initiating an overtime period, during which a first confidential bid is received, by the server, from the first computing device and a second confidential bid is received, by the server, from the second computing device, wherein the first confidential bid is the high bid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an example network, with a server having programs encoded on computer storage devices and configured to perform the actions of the methods, and two client computers connected to the server or other computing means through the Internet;

FIG. 2 depicts a flow chart that describes methods steps that may be performed by a server or other computing means for performing a group auction, in accordance with one embodiment;

FIG. 3 depicts a flow chart that describes methods steps that may be performed by a server or other computing means for performing a group auction, in accordance with one embodiment;

FIG. 4 depicts a flow chart that describes methods steps that may be performed by a server or other computing means for performing the initial stages of the auction process and through a first round auction of a first group of units, in accordance with one embodiment;

FIG. 5 depicts a flow chart that describes methods steps that may be performed by a server or other computing means for performing a side-challenge proposition;

FIG. 6 depicts an embodiment graphical user interface, through which the present methods may be communicated, in a preview mode;

FIG. 7 depicts the graphical user interface, in the early stages of the group auction;

FIG. 8 depicts the graphical user interface, illustrating a magnified view of a sub-auction;

FIG. 9 depicts the graphical user interface, in a later stage of the group auction;

FIG. 10 depicts the graphical user interface, after the auction period has expired and an optional silent auction period is initiated;

FIG. 11 depicts the graphical user interface, after the auction period and the optional silent auction period have expired; and

FIG. 12 depicts the graphical user interface, after each user has had an opportunity to obtain a unit over the course of multiple auction rounds, in this example, a fantasy sports team.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The detailed descriptions set forth below in connection with the appended drawings are intended as a description of embodiments of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only forms in which the present invention may be constructed and/or utilized. The descriptions set forth the structure and the sequence of steps for constructing and operating the invention in connection with the illustrated embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent structures and steps may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a computer network (100) with client computers (first computing device 102, and second computing device 104) and a server (106) on which any of the methods and systems of various embodiments may be implemented. Computing device is intended to represent various forms of desktop devices and mobile devices, such as personal digital assistants, cellular telephones, smartphones, tablets, and other similar computing devices. In particular the computer system, or server (106) in this example, may represent any of the computer systems and physical components necessary to perform the computerized methods discussed in connection with FIGS. 2-12 and, in particular, may represent a server (cloud, array, etc.), client, or other computer system upon which e-commerce servers, websites, web browsers and/or web analytic applications may be instantiated.

The illustrated exemplary server (106) is known to a person of ordinary skill in the art, and may include a processor, a bus for communicating information, a main memory coupled to the bus for storing information and instructions to be executed by the processor and for storing temporary variables or other intermediate information during the execution of instructions by processor, a static storage device or other non-transitory computer readable medium for storing static information and instructions for the processor, and a storage device, such as a hard disk, may also be provided and coupled to the bus for storing information and instructions. The server (106) may be optionally coupled to a display for displaying information. However, in the case of servers, such a display may not be present and all administration of the server may be via remote clients. Further, the server (106) may optionally include an input device for communicating information and command selections to the processor, such as a keyboard, mouse, touchpad, and the like.

The server (106) may also include a communication interface coupled to the bus, for providing two-way, wired and/or wireless data communication to and from the server (106). For example, the communications interface may send and receive signals via a local area network or other network, including the Internet. Program code embodied on a computer readable medium may be transmitted using any appropriate medium, including but not limited to wireless, wireline, optical fiber cable, RF, etc., or any suitable combination of the foregoing.

In the present illustrated example, the hard drive of the server (106) is encoded with executable instructions, that when executed by a processor cause the processor to perform acts as described in the methods of FIGS. 2-12. The server (106) communicates through the Internet with one or both of the first computing device (102) and the second computing device (104) to cause information and/or graphics to be displayed on the screens (108, 110). A first user may enter information for communication to the server (106) through the keyboard (114), mouse, touchscreen, voice, or other appropriate data entry device. Likewise, a second user may enter information for communication to the server (106) through the keyboard (112). Information transmitted to the server (106) by either the first computing device (102) or the second computing device (104) may be stored on the server (106) for use in calculations, creation of documents, charging fees, initiating further communications, or for other purposes.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of an exemplary process (200) for conducting an auction for concurrently bidding on a group of homologous or nonhomologous units, which may be performed on the server (106) or on the user's local computing device. The term homologous means that the units are similar in position, value, structure, or function, or have a related or similar position, structure, etc., but are not necessarily the same. The example detailed later below, includes a fantasy sports team, where the units within an auction are players of a particular position, but will generally have different skill levels and performance. However, the units may be physical objects or other virtual units, rather than virtual players on a fantasy or virtual sports team.

In the example process (200), the server (106) groups the first unit and the second unit into an auction group (202). The server (106) communicates descriptions of the auction group to the first computing device (102) and the second computing device (104), which can be displayed to the first user and the second user on the displays (108, 110) (204). The server (106) initiates an auction period where the first unit can be bid upon in a first sub-auction and, concurrently, the second unit can be bid upon in a second sub-auction by both the first user and the second user (206). During the auction period, the server grants the computing devices (102, 104) permission to transmit bids paced on one or both of the first sub-auction and the second sub-auction (208). For example, both the first user and the second user have the ability to place competing bids on the first unit within the first sub-auction, and/or the second unit, within the second sub-auction. Alternatively, the users can each place bids on separate units, never directly competing for the same unit or within the same sub-auction. Once bids are entered into the computing devices (102, 104), the bid data is transmitted and received by the server (106) (210).

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of another exemplary process (300) for conducting an auction for a group of units, which may be performed on the server (106) or on the user's local computing device. In the example process (300), a description of the first unit and the second unit are communicated to the first computing device (102) and the second computing device (104). The units may be physical or virtual products, characters, or other concepts, real or virtual, which may be auctioned. In the present example embodiment, there are two units available for auction, bid upon by two users (one user for each computing device). However, there may be numerous units which may be simultaneously auctioned in accordance with the present methods and systems, such as five, ten units, or a hundred units; and there may be numerous users bidding on the same auction group and on either the same or differing units within the auction group. The descriptions are preferably displayed on the screens (108, 110) of the computing devices (102, 104) using one or both of text or graphics, as will be discussed in reference to the graphical user interface below. The currency used for the bidding may be real money (such as US dollars or Euros) or virtual money, where the value is determined by the system.

Citations

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A method of allocating an award in an auction wherein an award for a given auction round is allocated amongst a plurality of highest ranked...

US 2005 197,950 A1 - Network auction system and method
The present invention provides a computerized system and methods for conducting on-line auctions. One or more concurrent auctions for one or more lots of products...

US 2012 71,219 A1 - FANTASY SPORT AUCTION DRAFT APPLICATION ROSTER PREVIEW GRID
Methods and system for presenting a plurality of attributes of a plurality of players from a plurality of teams that are part of a league...

US 2009 76,926 A1 - Method For Selling Multiple Like-Items In A Single Auction
An on-line auction method enables a seller to sell multiple like-items with a single auction by (a) offering an item for auction that is to...

US 2006 122,929 A1 - Multi-auction user interface
In a real-time auction user interface display, the user may select to participate in multiple auctions simultaneously in which case the user interface divides the...

US 7,555,445 B2 - Network auction system and method
The present invention provides a computerized system and methods for conducting on-line auctions. One or more concurrent auctions for one or more lots of products...

US 2014 164,162 A1 - INTEREST GAUGE BASED AUCTION
Information about participants in an auction are received and analyzed along with information about products to be auctioned and other information to generate an interest...

US 2007 54,718 A1 - Fantasy sports auction system
A fantasy sports game for a plurality of participants representing sports teams each wishing to form a fantasy sports team made up of actual athletes,...

US 2008 234,048 A1 - On-Line Auction Interface
A method for conducting a fantasy sports auction for a plurality of players utilizing a plurality of pre-recorded multimedia clips is disclosed. The method includes...

US 2013 179,293 A1 - INTEGRATION OF REMOTE BIDDERS INTO MULTIPLE AND SIMULTANEOUS LIVE AUCTIONS
Multiple simultaneous auctions can be monitored and participated in using a single bidding device operated by a single remote bidder. A multi-windowed environment allows for...

US 2007 203,824 A1 - SYSTEMS AND METHODS OF PROVIDING ONLINE LIVE AUCTIONS
A system and method of providing online live auction services is provided. In certain embodiments a client bidding module provide simultaneous access to multiple live...

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