Apple looks to patent NFC-based 'gifting' for iTunes, currently owned media

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application for a system that allows users to "gift" media content from iTunes and their own library to other iOS device owners, with the transaction facilitated by near-field communication.

Gifting
Source: USPTO


The lengthy patent filing, titled "Media gifting devices and methods," is a fairly straightforward invention that could may have greater implications as to how iOS device users purchase and consume digital content.

At the heart of the invention is gifting, or the simple idea of purchasing a song, e-book or video to give to another person. The document describes two main modes of giving gifts: purchasing media directly from the iTunes store, or sending a copy of already owned media to another device.

Apple already has systems in place for gifting digital media with the iTunes store app, while Passbook-redeemable gift cards can be purchased with the Apple Store app.

Currently, there is no way to gift a piece of owned media directly from one device to another through iTunes.

Thursday's patent application outlines a number of techniques that iOS device owners can use to give gifts provided by iTunes, all of which involve digital rights management (DRM) and authentication keys. The system is similar to Apple's established giving methods in that one user purchases a gift and sends it to another person, but instead of using email, a gifter can transfer the purchase to the giftee over NFC.

Gifting
NFC transfer.


The first step of a transaction originating from the iTunes Store occurs when the gifter selects an item they want to give away, such as a song. In one embodiment, the next step authorizes a gift charge to be placed on the gifter's iTunes account, which the recipient will redeem for the associated file.

Downloads in this scenario are handled by the iTunes server, which checks the recipient's authorization key before pushing out a gift. In some cases, the download will begin automatically, though the invention allows for recipients to retrieve the file at a later time.

Gifting
Redeeming the gift.


The second, and arguably more interesting, of the two scenarios is the gifting of an already owned media file.

Here, Apple again employs a method of authentication via a central server to determine what can and can't be downloaded by a recipient device. For example, a gifter can send a copy of a song currently playing on their device by tapping a user interface button. The operations performed after the gift purchase fork into two separate actions.

In one instance, the gifter's device sends a request to the server for a charge to be placed on their account for a given song. The giftee transfers an authentication notification to the recipient's phone, which then has permission to download the song from iTunes.

Alternatively, if Internet access is unavailable, the gifter can send a locked version of the media file via NFC to a giftee's device, along with a DRM or authentication code to be redeemed when network access is reestablished. Both devices will communicate with the server, and the purchase will be deducted from the gifter's account, while the recipient will have the media file unlocked. Another option when offline is to send just the key without the associated file, which can later be used to download the song.

Gifting
Flowchart showing gifting of owned media.


Also noted are various operations to ensure proper transmission of authorization and DRM keys, including checks with a central server for both gifter and giftee, purchase acceptance codes sent via NFC, and other safeguards.

Finally, the patent filing adds that a number of attachments, such as photos and audio messages, can be sent along with the gift.

It is unknown if Apple will roll out a gifting feature in a subsequent version of iOS, but the service could be a boon for iTunes and content providers as users would have yet another well-implemented media purchasing system to choose from.

Apple's media gifting patent application was first filed for in 2013 and credits Gloria Lin, Amir Mahood Mikhak, Taido Lantz Nakajima, Sean Anthony Mayo, Michael Rosenblatt and Andrew Hodge as its inventors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    This would be great! Nice way to build on the collection from fellow iTunes friends.
  • Reply 2 of 16
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 283member
    The flaw in this patent filing is nobody would share a Bryan Adams song
  • Reply 3 of 16
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    First the transfer of files patent (which would potentially shove the multiple Apple ID issue) and now this.

    Nice ideas if they happen.
  • Reply 4 of 16
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,741member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    First the transfer of files patent (which would potentially shove the multiple Apple ID issue) and now this.



    Nice ideas if they happen.


     


    My thoughts exactly.  If I could "gift" apps, movies, TV shows, and movies to another account, I could use this to consolidate my iTunes library.


     


    The inability to change the email address for your Apple ID to .mac.com/.me.com/.iCloud.com email addresses is truly baffling to me.

  • Reply 5 of 16
    nelsonxnelsonx Posts: 278member


    Why the hell to they patent all of these NFC things if they actually don't intend to use them?

  • Reply 6 of 16
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 283member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post


    Why the hell to they patent all of these NFC things if they actually don't intend to use them?



     


    they patent a lot of ideas they like but don't currently use.  Everyone does this.

  • Reply 7 of 16
    Mmm...

    First you can "gift" an iTunes song...

    Next, maybe "gift" an iTunes, Book, Movie...

    Next, maybe "gift" an iTunes Gift card...

    Next, maybe "gift" a 3rd-party Gift card...

    Next, maybe "gift" an airline ticket, Europass...

    Next, maybe "gift" money (an iTunes credit)...


    Some time soon, we'll have iTunes as the coin of the realm.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    dugbug wrote: »
    nelsonx wrote: »
    Why the hell to they patent all of these NFC things if they actually don't intend to use them?

    they patent a lot of ideas they like but don't currently use.  Everyone does this.

    NFC is not the only way to exchange data!
  • Reply 9 of 16
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 283member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    NFC is not the only way to exchange data!


     


    Yes... but this patent includes NFC which is why he commented.

  • Reply 10 of 16
    dugbug wrote: »
    NFC is not the only way to exchange data!

    Yes... but this patent includes NFC which is why he commented.

    So, it gives Apple the flexibility to use NFC at a later date -- knowing Apple has the IP rights to to it... a form of insurance, if you will.
  • Reply 11 of 16
    That ain't no patent.


    This great idiocy is just banning programming. GFYA
  • Reply 12 of 16
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 283member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    So, it gives Apple the flexibility to use NFC at a later date -- knowing Apple has the IP rights to to it... a form of insurance, if you will.


     


    Yes thats why they do it.  Same with batteries embedded in watch band or camera with prism to run image width of phone where lens can be moved (real zoom).  May or may not be done (certainly not done now), but grab the ip.

  • Reply 13 of 16
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,399member


    NFC is good tech that is currently being ruined and badly implemented on Android phones. Once they realise they can't make it work and newer Android phones stop coming with it, then Apple will show them how it's done.

  • Reply 14 of 16
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Evilution View Post


    NFC is good tech that is currently being ruined and badly implemented on Android phones. Once they realise they can't make it work and newer Android phones stop coming with it, then Apple will show them how it's done.



    You're on the wrong forum.  Everyone will yell at you and say how horrible NFC is and its not secure and completely outdated.  That is, unless Apple releases it.


     


    I, on the other hand, agree with you completely.

  • Reply 15 of 16
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member


    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    So, it gives Apple the flexibility to use NFC at a later date -- knowing Apple has the IP rights to to it... a form of insurance, if you will.


     


    Without the full text of the patent, we don't know if the technique is NFC-only or if NFC is simply one of the options available.  The article says "in one embodiment," which implies that there are other embodiments.  Especially since the article implies that NFC might be a last resort: "Alternatively, if Internet access is unavailable, the gifter can send a locked version of the media file via NFC to a giftee's device..."


     


    And, although it's technically easy to implement NFC in a phone, Apple and all other handset manufacturers can only use it if the carriers allow it.  Google failed to negotiate NFC usage agreements with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.  So, in the U.S., only Sprint phones can use Google Wallet with its NFC feature.   AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon phones use an alternative system called ISIS Mobile Wallet.  Bet you never even heard of it.

  • Reply 16 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,953member
    SockRolid, I've read the full text. It makes specific and numerous references to NFC and [B]only[/B] NFC as the transfer method.

    For those using the Chrome browser there's a really useful and full-featured extension for reviewing patent office docs. Look for Petapator in the Chrome Store. Once you've installed it simply click the link in the AI story. Easy and seamless. . . and it's a free extension.
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