2001 – First provisional patent application filed (P1) (July 6) Summary: Discloses a referral service, whereby a user utilizing a mobile phone to sell other mobile phone products receives a reward for referred transactions. This filing is one of two foundational priority documents from which three issued patents and multiple continuation applications stem. Important to note: first disclosure of mobile payments.
2002 – First nonprovisional patent application filed (NP1), claiming priority to P1 (Mar 8) Summary: Claims methods and devices for selling handheld communication products via an awards scheme controlled by a network.
2004 – Second provisional patent application filed (P2) (May 26) Summary: discloses various techniques for receiving promotions on a mobile device, as well as applications for all phases of a real estate transaction via a mobile device.
2004 – Hothand began selling phones: Since phones couldn’t do everything imagined and carriers exclusively controlled much of the software capabilities that were on the phones, Hothand became a reseller of phones and reprogrammed them to support Hothand location-based advertising information. The initial focus was concentrated on college campuses. While some success is reached, it isn’t big or fast enough to make a large impact.
2005 – Second nonprovisional patent application filed (NP2) (May 26) Summary: Multiple independent and dependent Method, Device and Medium claims covering mobile commerce conducted through the Internet on mobile and machine-readable devices. Includes user-inputted search, retrieval of a matched merchant, promotional offer to visit the identified matched merchant, and authenticated, “opt-in” subscription or membership. Important to note: first introduction of no spam/opt-in only policy. Claims priority to second provisional application, and is related to, and incorporates by reference, first nonprovisional patent application.
2005 – Hothand built programs for affinity groups: Hothand provides a mobile platform whereby affinity groups could get information to their members and share in the profits of phones sold to their members. In return, Hothand accesses larger groups to provide increased value to merchants. A deal was struck with community colleges with the idea of selling a large volume of phones in a concentrated area, incorporating merchants around the campus.
2006 – Hothand partnered with CBS Radio in Denver: Hothand was able to strike a deal with CBS Radio for a pilot program in Denver that would potentially scale nationwide. The concept was such that local merchants would be able to push custom promotions and deals to customers’ personal cell phones through an opt-in system. This system also allowed the merchants to change their offers on the fly so consumers could benefit from timely and spontaneous deals. The program gained significant traction with merchants and consumers, but as mobile payments did not yet exist, Hothand was unable to close the loop at the register, meaning results were difficult to measure.
2007 – Apple introduced the iPhone.
2008 – First patent issued, based on P1 and NP1 (July 22) Summary: claims methods for selling mobile communication products via a reward system, as well as apparatuses for consumer-to-consumer selling of mobile communication products.
2008 – HTC Dream released, the first smartphone running on the Android platform.
2009 – 2011 – Hothand builds the University Network. Hothand furthered its work in location-based advertising, this time with the University Network. 90 major universities used the system, including Ohio State University, Stanford University, University of Alabama, University of California – Los Angeles, University of Nebraska, University of Southern California, and nearly 100 others. The program enabled universities to create a merchant network around the campus, advertising deals directly to students. Even further, the merchant websites were changeable on the phone, ensuring up-to-the-minute accuracy. Hothand later struck a partnership with the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association. Hothand provided a mobile web and text platform whereby schools could inform students of information and events instantaneously. In return, Hothand could advertise on this platform. While the overall program was quite successful, Hothand required additional funding through a national sponsor.
2010 – Third patent application filed, the second application based on NP2 and P2 (January 26) Summary: Multiple independent and dependent System and Method claims, with more specific language for an app on a handheld mobile device, but which is directed to broader subject matter than the first patent.
2010 – Second patent issued, the first based on NP2 and P2 (April 6)
2010 – Hothand litigation. Hothand wins 9534016503706f its claims, further strengthening the Hothand patent portfolio.
2012 – Hothand established Nebraska Books Mobile Store: Hothand entered into an agreement with Nebraska Books to create a mobile bookstore that could be branded for individual universities. The project was successful for several years before Nebraska Books developed internal systems to meet their clients’ needs.
2013 – Fourth patent application filed, the second based on NP2 and P2 (October 2) Summary: Method, Device and Non-Transitory Computer Programmed Product claims. Builds on previous patents covering verification of membership in a shopping network and displaying matched merchants from user-inputted search within a geographical area. Search results on handheld mobile device further broadened to include name of merchant, location and promotional offer for at least one matched merchant. Memory of search and results now stored on mobile device, not only transmitted to airwaves.
2013 – Third patent issued, the second patent to issue based on NP2 and P2 (October 8)
2014 – Fifth patent application filed, the third application based on NP2 and P2 (August 4) Summary: Multiple independent and dependent Method, Device and Non-Transitory Computer Programmed Product claims. Includes user verification that can be automatically authenticated and stored via server. If a user downloads an app and creates an account, the member verification information can now include a phone number, password or credit/debit card.
2014 – Fourth patent issued, the third based on NP2 and P2 (August 5)
2015 – Sixth patent application filed, the fourth based on NP2 and P2 (May 5) Summary: Multiple independent and dependent Device and Service claims. Claims expansion of app configuration with linked debit/credit card information, resulting in the phone being a payment method to process a mobile commerce transaction. The claims allow the ability to link or use debit/credit card information with a mobile device to establish membership in a shopping network and provide access to commercial resources of the shopping network. Important to note: This patent is the last link to establishing an end-to-end mobile commerce solution.
2015 – Hothand releases flagship app: Hothand has developed an app to deliver personalized, relevant, location-based deals to consumers. Leveraging its own intellectual property, Hothand aims to improve the mobile commerce experience for consumers.
2015 – Hothand to file two more continuations. Hothand continues to expand on prior patents taking claim back to the original provisional patent in 2004. Additional continuations will further claim the use of a payment card as both access to membership in shopping network and access to commercial resources within a shopping network.