Title:
SELF-ABSORBENT, SELF-CONFORMING BEVERAGE HOLDER COASTER AND A METHOD FOR PROVIDING TARGETED ADVERTISING INDICIA THEREON
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-absorbent, self-conforming disposable coaster for different sized beverage holders and a method for providing targeted advertising indicia thereon, are presented. The coaster is inserted into a beverage holder prior to placing a beverage container therein. Once the beverage has been consumed, or when the coaster has reached a predetermined saturation point, the coaster is discarded and a new coaster is inserted. Thus the beverage container holder remains clean. The exterior surface of the coaster is, preferably, coated with an impermeable material, to prevent liquids absorbed through the top surface from passing through the coater to the beverage holder. The coaster further allows for the emplacement of an advertisement indicia on its surface. Data representative of advertising indicia to be provided on beverage holder coasters is received via suitable communications network.



Inventors:
Fratianne, Gary (Avon Lake, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/562612
Publication Date:
07/12/2007
Filing Date:
11/22/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
705/26.1
International Classes:
A47B91/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALLEN, WILLIAM J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUCKER ELLIS LLP (CLEVELAND, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A beverage holder coaster comprising: a body including at least one layer of at least partially absorbent material; wherein the body is adapted for being removably inserted into an associated beverage holder, which associated beverage holder is at least one of a plurality of different sized associated beverage holders, and which associated beverage holder includes an interior surface; wherein the body includes an interior surface and an exterior surface; and wherein the body is adapted for conforming to an associated beverage holder such that a non-adhesive contact is enabled between at least a part of the exterior surface of the body and a respective part of an interior surface of an associated beverage holder.

2. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the exterior surface of the body is coated with an impermeable material.

3. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the interior surface of the body is adapted for use as an advertising medium.

4. The beverage holder coaster of claim 3 wherein the interior surface of the body depicts advertising indicia.

5. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the body further includes a periphery, and wherein the periphery is adapted for folding upward enabling the contact between the at least a part of the exterior surface of the body and a respective part of an interior surface of an associated beverage holder.

6. The beverage holder coaster of claim 5 wherein the periphery includes a plurality of tabs formed by a respective plurality of slots included in the periphery, wherein slots are oriented toward a center of the body and spaced apart at a predetermined distance, and wherein the slots are of a predetermined length.

7. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the body is further adapted for enveloping at least partially an associated beverage enclosure.

8. The beverage holder coaster of claim 7 wherein the interior surface of the body is adapted for forming a non-adhesive contact with at least a part of an exterior surface of an associated beverage enclosure.

9. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the interior surface of the body is coated with a semi-impermeable material.

10. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the at least one layer of the at least partially absorbent material is pliable.

11. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein at least one layer of the at least partially absorbent material is selected from the group consisting of: at least partially a paper material layer, and at least partially a cotton material layer.

12. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the body has a generally circular shape.

13. The beverage holder coaster of claim 1 wherein the body is disposable.

14. A method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters, comprising the steps of: receiving, via a computer network, selection data representative of at least one selected beverage holder coaster; prompting, via an associated user interface, an associated user for at least one customizing indicia; receiving, via the computer network, at least one customizing indicia; receiving, via the computer network, identification data representative of an identity of an associated user; storing, in an associated storage, the identification data in association with the at least one customizing indicia; generating, via the associated user interface, a graphical representation of the at least one selected beverage holder coaster inclusive of the at least one customizing indicia; receiving, via the computer network, acceptance data representative of an acceptance of the selected beverage holder coaster and customizing indicia by the associated user; and calculating a cost associated with the selected beverage holder, wherein the cost is determined in accordance with the selected beverage holder coaster and the at least one customizing indicia.

15. The method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters of claim 14, wherein the at least one customizing indicia is at least one of the group consisting of a company logo, a graphical image, and a text phrase.

16. The method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters of claim 15, wherein the cost is further calculated in accordance with a parameter associated with the at least one customizing indicia, the parameter comprising at least one of the group consisting of size, length, color, and font.

17. The method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters of claim 16, further comprising the steps of: prompting the associated user for payment of the cost associated with the selected beverage holder; and receiving payment data representative of a payment of the cost associated with the selected beverage holder coaster.

18. The method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters of claim 17, wherein the payment data is at least one of the group consisting of a credit card, a pre-paid account, a billing account, and a wire transfer.

19. The method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters of claim 18, further comprising the step of receiving, via the computer network, quantity data representative of a desired quantity of beverage holder coasters.

20. The method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters of claim 19, wherein the cost is further calculated in accordance with the received quantity data.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on and claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. US 60/739,036, which was filed on Nov. 22, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to coasters on which beverage containers and enclosures are placed so as to avoid damage of the surface underneath. In particular, this invention is directed to a self-absorbing and self-conforming coaster adapted for use in a beverage holder of a vehicle, such as an automobile, boat, bus, and the like. The subject invention is also directed to a method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters.

The typical automobile, boat, bus, light truck, tractor-trailer, or van typically comes equipped with at least one integrated beverage holder. Usually, this beverage holder is molded into the material of the dashboard, center console, door, or the like. Repeated use of the beverage holder to hold a beverage leaves a variety of residues in the holder, including spilt beverage, condensation, and the like. Over time, the buildup of such residue may lead to mold development, as well as being a gathering point for lint, paper, or other debris common on moving vehicles. Some previous attempts to alleviate this problem have included removable mats inserted into the bottom of the beverage holder. These mats are generally manufactured of a rubber-like material, which prevent moisture, beverage, and the like, from accumulating on the unprotected bottom of the holder. However, such a mat merely contains the spilt beverage, condensation, or the like, and must be removed for cleaning. In the event of a spill, the beverage remains on the mat until removal or evaporation leaves a sticky residue on the mat, requiring cleaning.

Additionally, aftermarket supplies of such mats may be limited, as each motor vehicle generally includes unique holders, as an industry standard size is not presently enforced. When such mats are available, they are typically expensive, as most aftermarket manufacturer accessories are.

Further, cleaning such a mat or the beverage holder itself may be time consuming and is not convenient during a long trip.

Thus, there is a need to defray the expense of a coaster for a beverage holder in the motor vehicle industry.

A need also exists for a coaster adapted to fit a variety of beverage holder sizes.

There further exists a need for a beverage holder coaster that is not in need of cleaning, being disposable.

There also exists a need for a beverage holder coaster adapted for use as an advertising medium.

Further there exists a need for a method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a self-absorbent, self-conforming coaster.

Further, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a self-absorbing coaster adapted to fit a variety of beverage holder sizes.

Still further, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a disposable coaster adapted to fit a variety of beverage holders located in a variety of vehicles.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a beverage holder coaster including a body. The body includes at least one layer of at least partially absorbent material. The body includes an interior surface and an exterior surface. The body is adapted for being removably inserted into at least one of a plurality of different sized associated beverage holders. The associated beverage holder includes an interior surface.

In a preferred embodiment, the interior surface of the body is adapted for use as an advertising medium. Preferably, the interior surface of the body depicts advertising indicia.

The body of the beverage holder coaster is adapted for conforming to an associated beverage holder such that a non-adhesive contact is enabled between at least a part of the exterior surface of the body and a respective part of an interior surface of an associated beverage holder. The body, preferably, includes a periphery, which is adapted for folding upward enabling the contact between the at least a part of the exterior surface of the body and a respective part of an interior surface of an associated beverage holder. The periphery, preferably, includes a plurality of tabs formed by a respective plurality of slots included in the periphery, wherein slots are oriented toward a center of the body and spaced apart at a predetermined distance, and wherein the slots are of a predetermined length.

In another preferred embodiment, the exterior surface of the body is coated with an impermeable material. The at least one layer of the at least partially absorbent material of the body of the beverage holder coaster is selected from the group consisting of: at least partially a paper material layer, and at least partially a cotton material layer. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the body is, preferably, disposable.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters. The method begins with receiving from an associated customer, data representative of customer identification data. Next, a request is received from an associated customer, which includes data representative of advertising indicia to be provided on beverage holder coasters. Received data representative of customer identification data and of the advertising indicia, included in the request, is stored. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the received data is, preferably, stored in electronic form.

When necessary, the received data is customized, and then advertising indicia corresponding to the request received from an associated customer, is displayed on beverage holder coasters.

As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, data representative of customer identification data and data representative of advertising indicia to be provided on beverage holder coasters is received via communications network selected from the group comprising at least one of Internet network, and non-Internet network.

Still other objects and aspects of the present invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in this art from the following description wherein there is shown and described a preferred embodiment of this invention, simply by way of illustration of one of the best modes suited for to carry out the invention. As it will be realized by those skilled in the art, the invention is capable of other different embodiments and its several details are capable of modifications in various obvious aspects all without departing from the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the drawings and description will be regarded as illustrative in nature and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification, illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 illustrates a typical center console beverage holder of a vehicle in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a portion of a typical center console beverage holder having used coasters in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates removing of a beverage holder coaster in accordance with the present of a invention; and

FIG. 4 illustrates using the interior surface of the body of the beverage holder coaster as an advertising medium in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an overall diagram of the system for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating a user device for use in the system for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating a server for use in the system for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to coasters on which beverage containers and enclosures are placed so as to avoid damage of the surface underneath. In particular, the present invention is directed to a self-absorbent, self-conforming coaster. More particularly, the present invention is directed to a self-absorbing and self-conforming coaster adapted for use in a beverage holder of a vehicle, such as an automobile, boat, bus, and the like.

Turning now to FIG. 1, there is shown a typical center console beverage holder 100 of a vehicle. The console beverage holder 100 includes beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 inserted into different sized associated beverage holders 110, 112, 114, and 116, respectively. The beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 each include a body including at least one layer of at least partially absorbent material. The at least partially absorbent material is, preferably, pliable. Further, the at least partially absorbent material is adapted to absorb a plurality of liquid types of varying viscosity.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that the material of the at least one layer of the beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 is capable of being at least partially a paper material layer. The material of the at least one layer of the beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 is also capable of being at least partially a cotton material layer. It will be evident to a skilled artisan that other at least partially absorbent materials known in the art are capable of being used for employing the beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 without departing from the scope of the current invention. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108, preferably, have a generally circular shape.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 conform to the different sized associated beverage holders 110, 112, 114, and 116, respectively. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that beverage holders 110, 112, 114, and 116 are capable of having a variety of sizes and styles, including, for example and without limitation, holders capable of receiving large beverage containers on a raised outer ring on the bottom of the holder and small beverage containers on a recessed inner circle on the bottom of the holder.

Further description will be made with respect to the beverage holder coaster 102. However, as will be apparent to a skilled artisan, beverage holder coasters 104, 106, and 108 are analogous to the beverage holder coaster 102. Hence, the description presented herein for the beverage holder coaster 102 equally applies to beverage holder coasters 104, 106, and 108.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the body of the beverage holder coaster 102 includes an exterior surface 118 adapted for contacting at least partially with an interior surface 120 of the of an associated beverage holder 110. In a preferred embodiment, the exterior surface 118 is advantageously coated with an impermeable material, so as to prevent liquids absorbed through the top surface from passing through the bottom surface to the associated beverage holder 110 (the bottom surface not shown in the drawing). The body further includes a periphery 122 adapted for folding upward. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the latter enables a contact between at least a part of the exterior surface 118 of the body and a respective part of the interior surface 120 of an associated beverage holder 110. The body is further adapted for enveloping at least partially an associated beverage enclosure 124. The body includes an interior surface 126 adapted for forming a non-adhesive contact with at least a part of an exterior surface of an associated beverage enclosure 124. The interior surface 126 of the body of the beverage holder coaster 102 is, preferably, coated with a semi-impermeable material (not shown in the drawing). The latter advantageously allows liquid to be absorbed by the beverage holder coaster 102, but prevents the beverage enclosure 122 placed on the coaster 122 from sticking to it.

The beverage holder coasters beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 will be described in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 2.

Turning now to FIG. 2, there is shown a portion of a typical center console beverage holder 200 having used coasters 202 and 204 in accordance with the present invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the bodies of coasters 202, 204 are capable of being fabricated multilayered, as shown in FIG. 2. The periphery 206, 208 of the bodies of coasters 202, 204, respectively, advantageously includes a plurality of tabs 210, 212 formed by a respective plurality of slots 214, 216 included in the periphery 206, 208, respectively. As will be appreciated by a skilled artisan, the plurality of slots 214, 216 is oriented toward a center of the body of a respective coaster 202, 204. The slots 214, 216 are spaced apart at a predetermined distance and are of a predetermined length. The slotted periphery 206, 208 allow the tabs 210, 212 to fold upward, along the sides of respective beverage holders 218, 220. The skilled artisan will appreciate from the attached figures that the use of the slotted tabs 210, 212 enables the respective coaster 202, 204 to prevent liquid accumulation on the sides of respective beverage holders 218, 220.

Turning now to FIG. 3, there is shown a portion of a typical center console beverage holder 300. As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, FIG. 3 illustrates removal of a beverage holder coaster 302 from a respective beverage holder 304. As shown in FIG. 3, the beverage holder coaster 302 includes tabs 306.

Turning now to FIG. 4, there is shown a portion of a typical center console beverage holder 400. As shown in FIG. 4, an interior surface 402 of the body of the beverage holder coaster 404 is used as an advertising medium. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the interior surface 402 of the body of the beverage holder coaster 402 depicts logo information 406 of a particular company.

Operation of the beverage holder coaster of the subject application will be explained with reference to FIG. 1, FIG. 2, and FIG. 3. Referring now to FIG. 1, beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 are inserted into different sized associated beverage holders 110, 112, 114, and 116, respectively. The beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 are inserted such that they rest on at least a portion of the bottom of a respective beverage holder 110, 112, 114, and 116.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108 after being inserted, advantageously engage themselves to the sides and bottom of a respective beverage holder 110, 112, 114, and 116 by means of the tabs 210, 212 (shown in FIG. 2) and the materials used in the construction of the respective beverage holder coasters 102, 104, 106, and 108. A user is then able to place a beverage container, such as a cup, bottle, can, or the like, (illustrated in FIG. 1 as a beverage enclosure 122) in the beverage holder 110 on top of the coaster 102. As bumps, spills, condensation, and the like, occur the beverage holder coaster 102 suitably absorbs the liquids, preventing such liquid from coming into contact with the bottom and sides of the beverage holder 110.

Once the beverage has been consumed, or alternatively once the beverage holder coaster 102 has become saturated, such as illustrated in FIG. 2 by coasters 202, 204, the beverage holder coaster 102 is removed via any suitable means and replaced with a fresh coaster. FIG. 3 illustrates removal of the beverage holder coaster 302 from a respective beverage holder 304. Preferably, a user is able to secure the beverage holder coaster 302 by grasping one of the extended tabs 306 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, the beverage holder coaster 302 is, preferably disposed after being removed from the respective beverage holder 304.

In a preferred embodiment of the subject application, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the beverage holder coaster 404 is adapted to receive advertisement indicia on the interior surface 402 of the body of the beverage holder coaster 404. Preferably, the advertisement indicia is a printed advertisement using ink absorbed directly onto the beverage holder coaster 404 via any means known in the art. Suitable examples of such techniques are shown on any printed paper or cotton napkins, towels, and the like. The skilled artisan will appreciate that other methods of affixing advertisement indicia on the interior surface 402 of the beverage holder coaster 404 are capable of being advantageously used, without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown an overall diagram of the system 500 for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application. As shown in FIG. 5, the system 500 is capable of implementation using a distributed computing environment, illustrated as a computer network 502. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the computer network 502 is any distributed communications system known in the art capable of enabling the exchange of data between two or more electronic devices. The skilled artisan will further appreciate that the computer network 502 includes, for example and without limitation, a virtual local area network, a wide area network, a personal area network, a local area network, the Internet, an intranet, or the any suitable combination thereof. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the subject application, the computer network 502 is comprised of physical layers and transport layers, as illustrated by the myriad of conventional data transport mechanisms, such as, for example and without limitation, Token-Ring, 802.11(x), Ethernet, or other wireless or wire-based data communication mechanisms. The skilled artisan will appreciate that while a computer network 502 is shown in FIG. 5, the subject application is equally capable of use in a stand-alone system, as will be known in the art.

The system 500 illustrated in FIG. 5 further depicts a user device 504, in data communication with the computer network 502 via a communications link 506. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the user device 504 is shown in FIG. 1 as a personal computer for illustration purposes only. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, the user device 504 is representative of any computing device known in the art, including, for example and without limitation, a laptop computer, a workstation computer, a personal data assistant, a web-enabled cellular telephone, a smart phone, a proprietary network device, or other web-enabled electronic device. The communications link 506 is any suitable channel of data communications known in the art including, but not limited to wireless communications, for example and without limitation, Bluetooth, WiMax, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11(x), a proprietary communications network, infrared, optical, the public switched telephone network, or any suitable wireless data transmission system, or wired communications known in the art. Preferably, the user device 504 is suitably adapted to generate and transmit electronic documents, document processing instructions, user interface modifications, upgrades, updates, personalization data, or the like, via the computer network 502. In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the user device 504 is suitably adapted to run a web browser application, enabling communication with various devices via the Internet 502. The operation of the user device 504 will better be understood in conjunction with the block diagram illustrated in FIG. 6, explained in greater detail below.

The system 500 further illustrates a network server 508 coupled to a data storage device 510. Preferably, the network server 508 is representative of any network server known in the art capable of storing document data, image data, video data, sound data, multimedia data, or other suitable electronic data, hosting web pages, web sites, or the like, as will be known in the art. In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the data storage device 510 includes a plurality of electronic data, including image data, document data, customer identification data, advertising indicia, or the like. The network server 508 is communicatively coupled to the computer network 502 via a suitable communications link 512. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, the communications link 512 includes, for example and without limitation a proprietary communications network, infrared, optical, Bluetooth, WiMax, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11(x), the public switched telephone network, or any suitable wireless data transmission system, or wired communications known in the art. The operation of the network server 508 will be better understood in conjunction with the block diagram illustrated in FIG. 7, explained in greater detail below.

Turning now to FIG. 6, illustrated is a hardware diagram of a suitable user device 600, shown in FIG. 5 as the user device 504, for use in connection with the subject system. A suitable user device includes a processor unit 602 which is advantageously placed in data communication with read only memory 604, suitably non-volatile read only memory, volatile read only memory or a combination thereof, random access memory 606, display interface 608, storage interface 610, and network interface 612. In a preferred embodiment, interface to the foregoing modules is suitably accomplished via a bus 614.

The read only memory 604 suitably includes firmware, such as static data or fixed instructions, such as BIOS, system functions, configuration data, and other routines used for operation of the user device 600 via CPU 602.

The random access memory 406 provides a storage area for data and instructions associated with applications and data handling accomplished by the processor 602.

The display interface 608 receives data or instructions from other components on the bus 614, which data is specific to generating a display to facilitate a user interface. The display interface 608 suitably provides output to a display terminal 626, suitably a video display device such as a monitor, LCD, plasma, or any other suitable visual output device as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art.

The storage interface 610 suitably provides a mechanism for non-volatile, bulk or long term storage of data or instructions in the user device 600. The storage interface 610 suitably uses a storage mechanism, such as storage 618, suitably comprised of a disk, tape, CD, DVD, or other relatively higher capacity addressable or serial storage medium.

The network interface 612 suitably communicates to at least one other network interface, shown as network interface 620, such as a network interface card, and wireless network interface 630, such as a WiFi wireless network card. It will be appreciated that by one of ordinary skill in the art that a suitable network interface is comprised of both physical and protocol layers and is suitably any wired system, such as Ethernet, token ring, or any other wide area or local area network communication system, or wireless system, such as WiFi, WiMax, or any other suitable wireless network system, as will be appreciated by on of ordinary skill in the art. In the illustration, the network interface 620 is interconnected for data interchange via a physical network 632, suitably comprised of a local area network, wide area network, or a combination thereof.

An input/output interface 616 in data communication with the bus 614 is suitably connected with an input device 622, such as a keyboard or the like. The input/output interface 616 also suitably provides data output to a peripheral interface 624, such as a USB, universal serial bus output, SCSI, Firewire (IEEE 1394) output, or any other interface as may be appropriate for a selected application. Finally, the input/output interface 616 is suitably in data communication with a pointing device interface 628 for connection with devices, such as a mouse, light pen, touch screen, or the like.

Referring now to FIG. 7, illustrated is a representative architecture of a suitable server 700, shown in FIG. 5 as the network server 508, on which operations of the subject system are completed. Included is a processor 702, suitably comprised of a central processor unit. However, it will be appreciated that processor 702 may advantageously be composed of multiple processors working in concert with one another as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art. Also included is a non-volatile or read only memory 704 which is advantageously used for static or fixed data or instructions, such as BIOS functions, system functions, system configuration, and other routines or data used for operation of the server 700.

Also included in the server 700 is random access memory 706, suitably formed of dynamic random access memory, static random access memory, or any other suitable, addressable memory system. Random access memory provides a storage area for data instructions associated with applications and data handling accomplished by the processor 702.

A storage interface 708 suitably provides a mechanism for volatile, bulk or long term storage of data associated with the server 700. The storage interface 708 suitably uses bulk storage, such as any suitable addressable or serial storage, such as a disk, optical, tape drive and the like as shown as 716, as well as any suitable storage medium as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art.

A network interface subsystem 710 suitably routes input and output from an associated network allowing the server 700 to communicate to other devices. The network interface subsystem 710 suitably interfaces with one or more connections with external devices to the server 700. By way of example, illustrated is at least one network interface card 714 for data communication with fixed or wired networks, such as Ethernet, token ring, and the like, and a wireless interface 718, suitably adapted for wireless communication via means such as WiFi, WiMax, wireless modem, cellular network, or any suitable wireless communication system. It is to be appreciated however, that the network interface subsystem suitably utilizes any physical or non-physical data transfer layer or protocol layer as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art. In the illustration, the network interface 714 is interconnected for data interchange via a physical network 720, suitably comprised of a local area network, wide area network, or a combination thereof.

Data communication between the processor 702, read only memory 704, random access memory 706, storage interface 708 and the network subsystem 710 is suitably accomplished via a bus data transfer mechanism, such as illustrated by bus 712.

Suitable executable instructions on the server 700 facilitate communication with a plurality of external devices, such as workstations, document processing devices, other servers, or the like. While, in operation, a typical server operates autonomously, it is to be appreciated that direct control by a local user is sometimes desirable, and is suitably accomplished via an optional input/output interface 722 as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art.

In operation, a user associated with the user device 504 accesses the computer network 502 via a suitable browser application. Preferably, the server 508 hosts a web site accessible via the computer network 502. In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the user device 504 displays the web site hosted by the server 508, inclusive of a plurality of various coasters, suitably adapted for imprinting with user specified indicia. The user then navigates the web site, via the web browser operative on the user device 504, to view the various coasters available.

The user is then prompted, via any suitable means, to select at least one coaster for purchasing. Once the desired coaster is selected by the user, the server 508 then prompts the user to select a standard coaster or to customize the selected coaster. When a standard coaster is selected, the user is then prompted to select a quantity. The quantity is then used to calculate a cost associated with the coaster. The user then selects a desired shipping method and costs associated therewith are added to the total. Once the coaster costs and shipping costs are calculate, taxes, if any, are added to the final costs. The user is then prompted to create an account on the server 508. As will be appreciated byt hose skilled in the art, suitable account information includes, for example and without limitation, a username, password, user address, contact information, billing data, or the like. This account data is then stored in the data storage device 510 for future use, e.g., should the user desire to purchase additional coasters, modify an order, cancel an order, or the like.

The user is then prompted to select a payment method. Payment is capable of being made via credit card, pre-paid account, account billings, wire transfer, or the like. Once payment is received by the server 508, a receipt is generated and forwarded to the user via the computer network 502. Thereafter, the coasters are manufactured and shipped to the customer.

When the user desires to customize the coasters, the user is prompted to customization parameters. For example and without limitation, the user is capable of uploading a logo, a text phrase, or other indicia for incorporation into the coasters. The customization data is then stored in the storage device 510, along with the identification data received from the customer. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the type of customizing indicia will vary the costs associated with the coaster accordingly. For example, when a logo or other graphical indicia is selected by the user for incorporation into the coaster, the colors, complexity, size, and the like, will all have impacts on the costs associated with producing the coasters. The price is then calculated, as set forth above, in accordance with shipping and taxes, and the user is prompted to select a payment method. Once the payment has been received by the server 508, a receipt is returned and the coasters are manufactured and shipped to the user.

The skilled artisan will appreciate that the subject system 100 and components described above with respect to FIG. 1, FIG. 2, FIG. 3, FIG. 4, FIG. 5, FIG. 6, and FIG. 7 will be better understood in conjunction with the methodologies described hereinafter with respect to FIG. 8. Turning now to FIG. 8, there is shown a flowchart 800 illustrating a method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application. Beginning at step 802, the server 508 receives, from a user device 504 via the computer network 520, selection data representative of at least one selected beverage holder coaster. Preferably, the use selects one of a plurality of beverage coasters that are displayed on a web browser of the user device 504.

The user is then prompted, via the user interface of the user device 504, at step 804 to upload customization indicia for incorporation onto the selected beverage coaster. Such customization indicia includes, for example and without limitation, a logo, trademark, graphical image, text, or the like. In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the customization indicia is representative of an advertisement desired by the user. At step 806, the server 508 receives the customization indicia via the computer network 502. The server 508 further receives user identification data at step 808 corresponding to account information associated with the user. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that suitable account information includes, for example and without limitation, a username/password, address information, contact information, billing information, and the like. In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the identification data is received in conjunction with the creation of a new user account on the server 508. In accordance with another embodiment of the subject application, the identification data corresponds to login data used by the server 508 to retrieve user information previously stored.

The identification data and the associated customizing indicia are then stored in the associated data storage device 510 of the server 508 at step 810. Preferably, the data stored on the storage device 510 further includes data representing the selected beverage coaster in association with the user information and the uploaded customization indicia. At step 812, a graphical representation is generated representing the selected beverage coaster and the corresponding customization indicia. Preferably, this graphical representation is an image of the selected coaster incorporating the customization indicia displayed on the user interface associated with the user device 504. User acceptance of the displayed image is then received via the computer network 502 by the server 508 at step 814.

The server 508 then calculates the costs associated with the production of the selected coaster at step 816. Thereafter, the user is prompted to select a payment method, e.g., pre-paid account, billing account, wire transfer, credit card or the like. Once the server 508 has received the payment data, a receipt is returned to the user. Thereafter, the user confirms the charges and the coasters are ready for production. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the costs calculated are determined by the server 508 based upon the desired quantity, the size of the indicia, the color or colors associated with the indicia, the type of font contained in the indicia, and the like.

The skilled artisan will appreciate that the beverage holder coaster described above and illustrated in the examples of FIGS. 1-4 is capable of use in a variety of beverage holder settings. Preferably, the coaster is adapted for use in motorized vehicles, such as, for example and without limitation, airplanes, automobiles, light-trucks, vans, buses, tractor-trailers, motorboats, and the like, as well as used in non-motorized vehicles, including, for example and without limitation, sailboats and the like. While explained herein as emplaced in a beverage container located in a motor or non-motor vehicle, the skilled artisan will appreciate that the coaster is equally capable of use in home facilities, restaurants, airports, offices, and the like. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the construction of the beverage holder coaster in accordance with the present invention, particularly when combined with the alternate embodiments of the semi-permeable weave and impermeable bottom, also is capable of preventing unwanted condensation from marring glass, wood, marble, or metal countertops, desks, tables, furniture, and the like.

As will be further apparent to those skilled in the art, the method for providing targeted advertising indicia on beverage holder coasters illustrated by FIG. 8 is capable of use in any suitable applications, including without limitation, motorized and non-motorized vehicles, home facilities, restaurants, airports, offices, and the like.

The method of the subject application extends to computer programs in the form of source code, object code, code intermediate sources and object code (such as in a partially compiled form), or in any other form suitable for use in the implementation of the invention. Computer programs are suitably standalone applications, software components, scripts or plug-ins to other applications. Computer programs embedding the invention are advantageously embodied on a carrier, being any entity or device capable of carrying the computer program: for example, a storage medium such as ROM or RAM, optical recording media such as CD-ROM or magnetic recording media such as floppy discs. The carrier is also any transmissible carrier such as an electrical or optical signal conveyed by electrical or optical cable, or by radio or other means. Computer programs are suitably downloaded across the Internet from a server. Computer programs are also capable of being embedded in an integrated circuit. Any and all such embodiments containing code that will cause a computer to perform substantially the invention principles as described, will fall within the scope of the invention.

The foregoing description of preferred embodiments of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. The embodiments were chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to use the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally and equitably entitled.