Title:
Automated Sweepstakes Game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:

Abstract of the Disclosure

The invention is directed to a system and method of automatically playing a sweepstakes, namely, an automated sweepstakes game for allowing the purchaser to automatically enter a sweepstakes and providing the results of the sweepstakes upon purchase of the product. This invention allows for a product to be sold without the need for preprinted sweepstakes cards and allowing the product to be associated with the sweepstakes result that is displayed to the purchaser upon purchase of the product. Additionally, this invention allows for the sweepstakes results to be imprinted upon the purchased product with the purchaser is provided with a record of the sweepstakes outcome of the purchased product.




Inventors:
Sanders, Michael K. (Piedmont, SC, US)
Application Number:
10/267622
Publication Date:
11/18/2004
Filing Date:
10/09/2002
Assignee:
Bestco, Inc. (1243 Piedmont Highway, Piedmont, SC, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIM T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mcnair, Law Firm (P.O. Box 10827, Greenville, SC, 29603, US)
Claims:

What is Claimed is:



1. An automated game for dispensing a product with an associated sweepstakes result comprising: a computer readable medium; a set of sweepstakes results embodied in said computer readable medium; a product dispenser in electronic communication with said computer readable medium for dispensing a product purchased by a purchaser; a printer operatively associated with said dispenser in electronic communication with said computer readable medium; and, a set of computer readable instructions embodied in said computer readable medium for retrieving one of said sweepstakes results from said sweepstakes set, imprinting said sweepstakes result on a visually readable medium, and dispensing said visually readable medium from said dispenser along with the product purchased by the consumer.

2. 2 The game of claim 1 including a display in electronic communication with said computer readable medium for displaying said retrieved sweepstakes results; and, said computer readable instructions including instructions for displaying said retrieved sweepstakes result on said display.

3. 3 The game of claim 1 wherein said product dispenser is constructed and arranged for dispensing a card product which is the product purchased by the purchaser; and said computer readable instructions include instructions for controlling said printer to print said sweepstakes result on said product card, prior to said card product being dispensed through a dispensing slot of said dispenser.

4. 4 The game of claim 3 wherein said product dispenser is constructed and arranged to dispense a plurality of products, and said computer instructions include instructions for controlling said product dispenser to dispense a selected one of said products in response to a selection being made by the purchaser.

5. 5 The game of claim 4 wherein said card product includes a product side containing the purchased product and a sweepstakes side which is imprinted with said sweepstakes result.

6. 6 The game of claim 4 wherein the card product includes a first end which contains the product and a second end which is imprinted with said sweepstakes result.

7. 7 The game of claim 1 including a money acceptor for accepting cash or credits in electronic communication with said computer readable medium for actuating said computer readable medium once the correct amount of money or credits is paid, so that said actuated computer readable medium carries out said computer readable instructions to retrieve a sweepstakes result, imprint the sweepstakes result on the visually readable medium.

8. 8 The game of claim 1 wherein said computer readable instructions include instructions for deleting said retrieved sweepstakes result from said sweepstakes set after being retrieved.

9. 9 A computerized sweepstakes game for automatically generating a sweepstakes result in association with the purchase of a product comprising: a computer readable medium; a product dispenser in electronic communication with said computer readable medium for dispensing a product; a printer in electronic communication with said computer readable medium; a display in electronic communication with said computer readable medium for visually displaying sweepstakes result; a money acceptor for accepting cash or credits in electronic communication with said computer readable medium; and, a set of computer readable instructions embodied in said computer readable medium for generating a sweepstakes result in response to said money acceptor being satisfied, imprinting the sweepstakes result on a visually readable medium, and displaying said display result on said display.

10. 10 The game of claim 9 wherein said product dispenser includes a storage for the product being dispensed, and said printer is associated with said dispenser so as to receive the product from storage and imprint the sweepstakes result on the product prior to the product being dispensed from the product dispenser.

11. 11 A system for dispensing a product containing a sweepstakes result comprising: a computer readable medium; and a set of computer readable instructions in communication with said computer readable medium for retrieving a sweepstakes result from a set of sweepstakes results, imprinting the sweepstakes result on a visually readable medium, and dispensing the visual readable medium from a dispenser.

12. 12 The system of claim 11 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for displaying the retrieved sweepstakes result on a display screen in communication with said computer readable medium.

13. 13 The system of claim 11 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for printing the sweepstakes result on a product card through a printer in communication with said computer readable medium.

14. 14 The system of claim 11 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for receiving input from a purchaser representing a product desired to be purchased, selecting the product purchased by the purchaser from a set of products, and dispensing the product in response to the selection being made by the purchaser.

15. 15 The system of claim 11 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for accepting cash or credits from a purchaser through a money acceptor in communication with said computer readable medium.

16. 16 The system of claim 11 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for deleting the retrieved sweepstakes result from the set of sweepstakes results after retrieving the sweepstakes result.

Description:

Detailed Description of the Invention

Field of the Invention

[0001] This invention is directed to a sweepstakes game, namely, an automated sweepstakes game for allowing a purchaser to automatically enter a sweepstakes and receive the results of the sweepstakes upon purchase and dispensing of a game product.

[0002] Background of the Invention

[0003] Sweepstakes games have become increasingly popular as a means for enticing consumers to purchase the product of a vendor and thereby serve as marketing and merchandizing tools for vendors. Traditionally, a sweepstakes is entered by a purchaser who fills out an entry card or receives a sweepstakes game piece. In the latter case, the sweepstakes results are typically preprinted and recorded on the game piece. It is noted that while many sweepstakes have a “no purchase necessary” condition, the vast majority of sweepstakes are entered and played in association with the purchase of a product. In some cases, a sweepstakes game piece is distributed in conjunction with the product such as in U.S. Patent No 6,056,289, entitled “Voucher and Game Ticket Combination and Apparatus and Method Used Therewith.” This patent teaches the use of a roll of vouchers that are already preprinted with sweepstakes indicia to have predetermined sweepstakes results. The sweepstakes results that are represented by the indicia on a card are dispensed with the purchased product, and the sweepstakes results are predetermined for each product purchased. U.S. Patent No. 5,928,082, by the same inventor, contemplates that the voucher could be a document, receipt, stamp, or the like that evidences an expenditure or has other utilitarian value. In these prior cases, the voucher or product is preprinted with sweepstakes results so that variations of products and numbers of sweepstakes results is limited. However, it is advantageous to be able to provide a means for entering a sweepstakes and providing the results to the purchaser without needing preprinted game pieces or game piece voucher combinations. This advantage allows the lender to change products in the middle of a sweepstakes without having to purchase additional preprinted game products or pieces, and have game flexibility.

[0004] Therefore, it is highly desirable to provide a sweepstakes game where the sweepstakes results are not necessarily associated with a specific product prior to playing the game.

[0005] Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide an automatic sweepstakes game in which the product and sweepstakes game piece may be randomly changed to present a more enticing sweepstakes to consumers.

[0006] Another object of the present invention is to provide an automated sweepstakes game having a variety of products which can be purchased in association with the game

[0007] Another object of the present invention is to provide the consumer a record of the sweepstakes results upon the purchase of the product without having preprinted sweepstakes games pieces.

Summary of the Invention

[0008] The above objectives are accomplished according to the present invention by providing an automated sweepstakes game for dispensing a product along with a sweepstakes result generated and dispensed in real-time. The game includes a computer having a computer processor; and a finite set of sweepstakes results embodied in a computer readable medium. There is a product dispenser connected in electronic communication with the processor for dispensing a product purchased by a purchaser; and a printer operatively associated with the dispenser disposed in electronic communication with the processor. There is a set of computer readable instructions embodied in a computer readable code for retrieving one of the sweepstakes results from the sweepstakes set, imprinting the sweepstakes result on a visually readable medium, and dispensing the visual readable medium from the dispenser along with the product purchased by the consumer. Preferably, the retrieved sweepstakes result is imprinted on the product when the product is a card product. There is a monitor having a screen display connected in electronic communication with the computer processor for displaying the retrieved sweepstakes result. Advantageously, the computer readable instructions include displaying the retrieved sweepstakes result on the screen display concurrently with imprinting the sweepstakes results on the visually readable medium. Preferably, The product dispenser is constructed and arranged for dispensing a card product purchased by the purchaser; and the computer readable instructions include instructions for controlling the printer to print the sweepstakes result on the product card prior to it being dispensed through a dispensing slot of the dispenser. The product dispenser may be constructed and arranged to dispense a plurality of products, and the computer instructions include controlling the product dispenser to dispense a selected one of the products in response to a selection being made by the purchaser. Different products may be provided on plural rolls or stacks of products. The card product may include a product side containing the product and a sweepstakes side which is imprinted with the sweepstakes result. Alternately, the card product may include a first end which is the product and a second end which is imprinted with the sweepstakes result. There is a money acceptor for accepting cash or credits connected in electronic communication with the computer processor for actuating the processor once the correct amount of money or credits is paid. The actuated processor carries out the computer readable instructions to retrieve a sweepstakes result, and imprint the sweepstakes result on the visually readable medium, preferably the card product.

[0009] A computer program for the automated sweepstakes game having a sweepstakes set containing a plurality of sweepstakes results embodied in computer readable code, comprises a set of computer readable instructions embodied in computer readable code. The instructions include retrieval instructions for retrieving a sweepstakes result from the sweepstakes set; deletion instructions for deleting the retrieved sweepstakes result from the set of sweepstakes result; printing instructions for imprinting the retrieved sweepstakes result on the product; display instructions for concurrently displaying the retrieved sweepstakes results on the screen display of the monitor; and dispensing instructions for dispensing the product to the purchaser with the sweepstakes result printed on the product.

Description of the Drawings

[0010] The construction designed to carry out the invention will hereinafter be described, together with other features thereof. The invention is more readily understood from a reading of the following specification and by reference to the accompanying drawings forming a part thereof, wherein an example of the invention is shown and wherein:

[0011] Figure 1 is a front elevation of an electronic sweepstakes game according to the invention;

[0012] Figure 2 is a top plan view of a vendor product merchandised according to the invention;

[0013] Figure 2A is a bottom plan view illustrating the opposite of the product of Figure 2 imprinted with a sweepstakes result;

[0014] Figure 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating the basic components of an automated sweepstakes game and method according to the invention;

[0015] Figure 3A is a front elevation of a product dispenser which dispenses a plurality of different products according to the invention; and

[0016] Figure 4 is a flow chart illustrating the steps included in the game and method of the invention.

Detailed Description of a Preferred Embodiment

[0017] The detailed description that follows may be presented in terms of program procedures executed on a computer or network of computers. These procedural descriptions are representations used by those skilled in the art to most effectively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art. These procedures herein described are generally a self-consistent sequence of steps leading to a desired result. These steps require physical manipulations of physical quantities such as electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, or otherwise manipulated. An object or module is a section of computer readable code embodied in a computer readable medium that is designed to perform a specific task or tasks. Actual computer or executable code or computer readable code may not be contained within one file or one storage medium but may span several computers or storage mediums. The term a host and a server may be hardware, software, or combination of hardware and software that provides the functionality described herein.

[0018] The present invention is described below with reference to flowchart illustrations of methods, apparatus (system) and computer program products according to the invention. It will be understood that each block of a flowchart illustration can be implemented by a set of computer readable instructions or code. These computer readable instructions may be loaded onto a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine such that the instructions will execute on a computer or other data processing apparatus to create a means for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks.

[0019] The computer readable instructions may also be stored in a computer readable medium that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in a computer readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instruction means that implement the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks. Computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer executed process such that the instructions are executed on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide steps for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks. Accordingly, elements of the flowchart support combinations of means for performing the special functions, combination of steps for performing the specified functions and program instruction means for performing the specified functions. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations can be implemented by special purpose hardware based computer systems that perform the specified functions, or steps, or combinations of special purpose hardware or computer instructions. The present invention is now described more fully herein with reference to the drawings in which the preferred embodiment of the invention is shown. This invention may, however, be embodied any many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiment set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.

[0020] Referring now to Figure 1, a computerized sweepstakes game, designated generally as A, is illustrated which includes an electronic computer processor 10 connected in electronic communication with a computer readable medium 12. A monitor 14 having a screen display is connected in electronic communication with the processor 10. A cash or credit card acceptor 16 is connected in electronic communication with computer processor 10 and is capable of accepting currency or credits 18 to allow a purchaser to purchase a product 26. As can best be seen in Figure 3A, a plurality of different products 26 and 26’ may be provided in the form of rolls 20 to be dispensed by dispenser 22 as selected by the purchaser. Any number of different products can be dispensed from dispenser 22 with the selected product being imprinted in real-time with a sweepstakes result generated by the computer processor. For this purpose, a printer 28, controlled by processor 10, is included in dispenser 22 to print the product with a sweepstakes result after a specific product is purchased, and before the product is dispensed through an exit slot 22a of the dispenser. Products can be receipt cards, coupons, telephone cards, horoscopes, etc. When the purchaser provides sufficient currency or credits, the purchaser may purchase at least one product and the purchased product is dispensed. When the product is purchased, the purchaser is automatically entered into a sweepstakes. The purchaser can then be provided with the sweepstakes results when automatically generated by the computer processor. A finite set of sweepstakes results are embodied in a computer readable, sweepstakes results data set 24 disposed in electronic communication with processor 10.

[0021] When the purchaser inserts the proper amount of money or credits, and selects the product, processor 10 actuates the dispenser to print and dispense the product. First, processor 10 retrieves a single sweepstakes result 26b from set 24 of sweepstakes results and displays the results on monitor display 14 (Figure 1). At the same time, printer 28, at the direction of processor 10, imprints product card 26 with sweepstakes results 26b so that the sweepstakes results are not only displayed on the display 14 but also printed on product card 26. Product card 26 may also have a product side 26a showing the necessary information for the product, such as the code for telephone calling, and an opposing sweepstakes side where the sweepstakes result 26b is imprinted. Alternately, the sweepstakes results may be printed on the same side of the card 26. In this case, the product information 26a is carried on one end of the card, and the sweepstakes result 26b is imprinted on the other end (Figure 3). When imprinted and dispensed from exit slot 22a, the purchaser is provided with the product card and the sweepstakes result on the product card. By imprinting the product card when purchased, the vendor of the product cards can change the type of product sold without having to purchase preprinted combination sweepstakes product cards nor to restart the sweepstakes. The operation of the sweepstakes can be independent of the type of product sold. Significant savings in expense can be achieved by eliminating the need for preprinted game pieces in combination with purchased products.

[0022] In the event that the set of sweepstakes results are exhausted, the products can still be dispensed, but the purchaser may be informed to retrieve a sweepstake result from a manager at the game location. In this case, and the purchaser can be entered into the sweepstakes through traditional means such as a preprinted game piece or the like. This allows the products to be continually sold when the sweepstakes comes to an end. In the event that the set of products is exhausted, the sweepstakes results can still be displayed. In this case, advantageous aspects of the invention can still be obtained. A sweepstakes result may still be automatically generated during game play by retrieving a result 26b from the results set; and displaying, printing, and dispensing the sweepstakes result on a card. Thus, the need for preprinted sweepstakes cards is avoided.

[0023] Referring now to Figure 3, the basic components of computer game A are illustrated individually and schematically to include computer processor 10 in electronic communication with sweepstakes results set 24, and monitor display 14. The product dispenser 22 is shown dispensing product 26 having sweepstake results 26b imprinted on the product card by printer 28 under the control of processor 10. Bill acceptor 16 is shown in electronic communication with processor 10 and signals the processor to determine if sufficient credits are paid for purchasing the product. The device is actuated by pressing play button 44 which signals the dispensing of a product if sufficient credits exist. When actuated, a sweepstakes result is retrieved from the set of sweepstakes results, displayed for the purchaser, imprinted on the product purchased, and dispensed to the purchaser.

[0024] Referring now to Figure 4, the method and operation of the invention is further illustrated. In step 30, the purchaser provides currency or credits into the acceptor. If there are sweepstake entries remaining in the set of sweepstakes results at step 32, then a sweepstakes result is selected from the set of sweepstakes results at step 34. In the event that there are no sweepstakes entries remaining, the purchaser is informed to retrieve a sweepstakes result at a separate location in step 33. If a result is available, a single sweepstakes result is selected from the set of sweepstake results. The single sweepstakes result selected is removed from the set of results at step 36. The specific sweepstakes result selected is displayed to the purchaser on monitor 14 at step 38. The sweepstakes result is contemporaneously imprinted on a product in step 40 and the product with the imprinted sweepstakes dispensed to the purchaser in step 42.

[0025] While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been described using specific terms, such description is for illustrative purposes only, and it is to be understood that changes and variations may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the following claims.