Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING ONLINE SWEEPSTAKES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sweepstakes solution-generating computer system includes a processor and a memory for storing computer-executable instructions causing the computer system to receive sweepstakes parameters for a proposed sweepstakes (the sweepstakes parameters including sponsor information and prize information) and provide an indication of whether the value of the prizes identified by the prize information exceed a predetermined amount which requires consulting an attorney in order to generate a sweepstakes solution. Based on the indication that the value of the prizes does not exceed the predetermined amount, the system generates a sweepstakes solution.



Inventors:
Underhill, Rod (Julian, CA, US)
Murphy, Daniel Patrick (Coronado, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/293463
Publication Date:
05/16/2013
Filing Date:
11/10/2011
Assignee:
UNDERHILL ROD
MURPHY DANIEL PATRICK
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/43
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, ANH-VO V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KLARQUIST SPARKMAN, LLP (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. One or more computer-readable storage devices comprising computer-executable instructions causing a computer to perform a method of implementing a sweepstakes, the method comprising: receiving a request for production of a sweepstakes proposal from an online user via a server; responsive to the request, generating and delivering to the user a series of queries regarding the sweepstakes proposal; receiving a plurality of responses to the queries that have been generated and delivered to the user; and based on the plurality of responses to the queries, developing a sweepstakes solution, wherein the sweepstakes solution comprises generating a sweepstakes rules for publication based, at least in part, on plurality of responses to the queries.

2. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 1, wherein the acts of generating and delivering a series of queries and receiving the plurality of responses comprises: requesting sponsor information about the name and contact information of a sponsor of the sweepstakes proposal; receiving the sponsor information; requesting prize information about the prizes that are to be distributed by the sponsor via the sweepstakes solution; and receiving the prize information.

3. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 2, wherein the method further comprises: responsive to the prize information, determining whether the sweepstakes solution can be generated without consulting an attorney.

4. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 3, wherein the act of determining whether an attorney needs to be consulted comprises: determining a total value of the prizes associated with the prize information, the total value being determined by assigning a value to each prize that is to be distributed and summing up all of the values assigned to the prizes to obtain the total value of the prizes; comparing the total value of the prizes to a predetermined value to determine if the total value exceeds the predetermined value; and if the total value exceeds the predetermined value, providing an indication that an attorney must be consulted by the user.

5. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 2, wherein the prize information comprises prizes of monetary value.

6. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 5, wherein at least some of the prize information is received via a dropdown menu listing possible prizes, each of the possible prizes having a pre-assigned value associated with the possible prizes.

7. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 6, wherein the possible prizes comprise at least one downloadable music file.

8. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 6, wherein the possible prizes comprise at least one physical item that has been autographed.

9. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 3, further comprising: based on an indication that no attorney consultation is required, generating the sweepstakes solution and publishing a sweepstakes rules, the sweepstakes rules identifying the sponsor of the sweepstakes solution and the prizes that are to distributed by the sponsor; and receiving entries from a plurality of participants in the sweepstakes solution.

10. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 9, wherein the entries are restricted to participants who are pre-registered.

11. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 10, wherein pre-registration comprises: linking a profile of a participant to a profile of another entity on a social networking site.

12. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 9, wherein the acts of generating and delivering a series of queries and receiving the plurality of responses comprises: requesting information about the sweepstakes period, the sweepstakes period being the period in which entries can be received from the plurality participants; and receiving the sweepstakes period information from the user.

13. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 12, wherein a graphical user interface is provided to the user, the graphical user interface being configured to show a calendar view to facilitate generation of the sweepstakes period information by the user.

14. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 13, wherein the graphical user interface permits the user to select non-continuous blocks of time for the sweepstakes period.

15. The one or more computer-readable storage devices of claim 9, wherein the method further comprises: restricting the entries of participants to a certain demographic, the certain demographic being limited by age and appreciation of a musical genre by the participant.

16. A method implemented at least in part by one or more computing devices, the method comprising: receiving sweepstakes parameters for a proposed sweepstakes, the sweepstakes parameters including sponsor information and prize information; receiving an indication of whether the total value of the prizes identified by the prize information exceed a predetermined amount which requires consulting an attorney in order to generate a sweepstakes solution; based on an indication that the total value of the prizes does not exceed the predetermined amount, generating the sweepstake solution; receiving entries from a plurality of participants, the entries being responsive to the publication of the sweepstakes solution; selecting one or more winners of the sweepstakes solution from the entries received from the plurality of participants; and distributing the prizes identified by the prize information to the one or more winners.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the entries are restricted to participants who are pre-registered by linking a profile of the participant to a profile of another entity on a social networking site.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the sweepstakes parameters further comprise a time period for the sweepstakes solution, the method further comprising: providing a graphical user interface on the computing device which permits selection of the time period in which the sweepstakes solution can be run; and receiving the time period identified by a user of the computing device.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein after receiving the prize information, the method further comprises: prompting the user of the computing device to consider additional prizes, the additional prizes being selectable via a dropdown menu listing possible prizes, each of the possible prizes having a pre-assigned value associated with the possible prizes; and adjusting the total value of the prizes based on the selection of additional prizes.

20. A sweepstakes solution-generating computer system comprising: a processor; and memory storing computer-executable instructions causing the computer system to: receive sweepstakes parameters for a proposed sweepstakes, the sweepstakes parameters including sponsor information and prize information; provide an indication of whether the value of the prizes identified by the prize information exceed a predetermined amount which requires consulting an attorney in order to generate a sweepstakes solution; based on an indication that the value of the prizes does not exceed the predetermined amount, generate the sweepstake solution; receive entries from a plurality of participants, the entries being responsive to the publication of the sweepstakes solution; select one or more winners of the sweepstakes solution from the entries received from the plurality of participants; and distribute the prizes identified by the prize information to the one or more winners.

Description:

FIELD

This disclosure relates to systems and methods for providing and conducting sweepstakes and, in particular, providing and conducting such sweepstakes online.

BACKGROUND

With the advent of the Internet, contests, sweepstakes, and promotions where Internet users can win money or prizes have become very popular, both with companies and other people who want to put on such contests and with people who like to win free money and prizes. Unfortunately, because of the various requirements relating to sweepstakes and similar contests, such events continue to require significant effort and cost to implement. As a result, many people and/or groups who would like to provide and conduct sweepstakes or other such contests, find themselves unable to do so. Accordingly, improvements to conventional methods and systems for providing and conducting sweepstakes and other contests are desirable.

SUMMARY

A variety of embodiments of systems and methods for implanting and conducting sweepstakes are provided herein. In some embodiments, sweepstakes implementation tools are provided for selecting, receiving, and implementing sweepstakes for sponsors. Such tools can facilitate various aspects of implementing sweepstakes solutions and assist in the sweepstakes process. Considerable efficiency and accuracy improvements in the sweepstakes preparation process can be realized. Due to the features described herein, the sweepstakes can also be more accurate and flexible in a variety of sponsor situations. As described herein, a variety of other features and advantages can be incorporated into the technologies as desired.

In some embodiments, one or more computer-readable storage devices comprising computer-executable instructions causing a computer to perform a method of implementing a sweepstakes are provided. The method includes receiving a request for production of a sweepstakes proposal from an online user via a server and, responsive to the request, generating and delivering to the user a series of queries regarding the sweepstakes proposal. A plurality of responses are received to the queries that have been generated and delivered to the user and, based on the plurality of responses to the queries, a sweepstakes solution is developed. The sweepstakes solution comprises generating a sweepstakes rules for publication based, at least in part, on plurality of responses to the queries.

In some embodiments, the acts of generating and delivering a series of queries and receiving the plurality of responses comprise requesting sponsor information about the name and contact information of a sponsor of the sweepstakes proposal, receiving the sponsor information, requesting prize information about the prizes that are to be distributed by the sponsor via the sweepstakes solution, and receiving the prize information. In other embodiments, responsive to the prize information, it can be determined whether the sweepstakes solution can be generated without consulting an attorney.

In some embodiment, the act of determining whether an attorney needs to be consulted comprises determining a total value of the prizes associated with the prize information (with the total value being determined by assigning a value to each prize that is to be distributed and summing up all of the values assigned to the prizes to obtain the total value of the prizes), and comparing the total value of the prizes to a predetermined value to determine if the total value exceeds the predetermined value. If the total value exceeds the predetermined value, an indication can be provided that an attorney must be consulted by the user. In some embodiments, at least some of the prize information can be selected via a dropdown menu listing possible prizes, each of the possible prizes having a pre-assigned value associated with the possible prizes. The possible prizes comprise at least one downloadable music file and/or at least one physical item that has been autographed.

In some embodiments, based on an indication that no attorney consultation is required, the sweepstakes solution can be generated and a sweepstakes rules published, the sweepstakes rules identifying the sponsor of the sweepstakes solution and the prizes that are to be distributed by the sponsor. After publication, entries from a plurality of participants in the sweepstakes solution can be received. In some embodiments, the entries are restricted to participants who are pre-registered, such as by linking a profile of a participant to a profile of another entity on a social networking site.

In some embodiments, the acts of generating and delivering a series of queries and receiving the plurality of responses comprises requesting information about the sweepstakes period, the sweepstakes period being the period in which entries can be received from the plurality participants, and receiving the sweepstakes period information from the user. A graphical user interface can be provided to the user, with the graphical user interface being configured to show a calendar view to facilitate generation of the sweepstakes period information by the user. The graphical user interface can permit the user to select non-continuous blocks of time for the sweepstakes period.

In some embodiments, the entries of participants can be restricted to a certain demographic, with the certain demographic being limited by age and appreciation of a musical genre by the participant.

In another embodiment, a method implemented at least in part by one or more computing devices is provided. The method includes receiving sweepstakes parameters for a proposed sweepstakes, the sweepstakes parameters include sponsor information and prize information, receiving an indication of whether the total value of the prizes identified by the prize information exceed a predetermined amount which requires consulting an attorney in order to generate a sweepstakes solution, based on an indication that the total value of the prizes does not exceed the predetermined amount, generating the sweepstake solution, receiving entries from a plurality of participants, the entries being responsive to the publication of the sweepstakes solution, selecting one or more winners of the sweepstakes solution from the entries received from the plurality of participants, and distributing the prizes identified by the prize information to the one or more winners.

In some embodiments, the entries can be restricted to participants who are pre-registered by linking a profile of the participant to a profile of another entity on a social networking site. The sweepstakes parameters can comprise a time period for the sweepstakes solution and a graphical user interface can be provided on the computing device which permits selection of the time period in which the sweepstakes solution can be run and the time period identified by a user of the computing device can be received. After receiving the prize information, the method can further comprise prompting the user of the computing device to consider additional prizes, the additional prizes being selectable via a dropdown menu listing possible prizes (each of the possible prizes having a pre-assigned value associated with the possible prizes) and adjusting the total value of the prizes based on the selection of additional prizes.

In some embodiments, a sweepstakes solution-generating computer system can include a processor and a memory storing computer-executable instructions causing the computer system to: receive sweepstakes parameters for a proposed sweepstakes (the sweepstakes parameters including sponsor information and prize information), provide an indication of whether the value of the prizes identified by the prize information exceed a predetermined amount which requires consulting an attorney in order to generate a sweepstakes solution, based on an indication that the value of the prizes does not exceed the predetermined amount, generate the sweepstake solution, receive entries from a plurality of participants, the entries being responsive to the publication of the sweepstakes solution, select one or more winners of the sweepstakes solution from the entries received from the plurality of participants, and distribute the prizes identified by the prize information to the one or more winners.

The foregoing and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of an exemplary computing system on which certain embodiments of the systems and methods disclosed herein can be implemented.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a computer network that can be used to perform at least some of the embodiments of the systems and methods disclosed herein.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating another computer network that can be used to perform at least some of the embodiments of the systems and methods disclosed herein.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating how the computer networks of FIG. 2 or 3 can be used to perform certain aspects of the systems and methods disclosed herein.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart of a portion of a system of generating and implementing sweepstakes solutions.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The technologies described herein can be used for a variety of sweepstakes generation and implementation scenarios. Adoption of the technologies can provide an efficient technique for generating and evaluating proposed sweepstakes relating to a variety of different subjects and media.

The technologies disclosed herein are generally targeted to sponsors of sweepstakes, who will appreciate the significantly improved implementation-focused approach. However, the participants of sweepstakes are also able to realize significant benefits from such sweepstakes since a greater number of well-designed and well-implemented sweepstakes are possible using the tools and systems described herein.

General Considerations

For purposes of this description, certain aspects, advantages, and novel features of the embodiments of this disclosure are described herein. The disclosed methods, apparatuses, and systems should not be construed as limiting in any way. Instead, the present disclosure is directed toward all novel and nonobvious features and aspects of the various disclosed embodiments, alone and in various combinations and sub-combinations with one another. The methods, apparatus, and systems are not limited to any specific aspect or feature or combination thereof, nor do the disclosed embodiments require that any one or more specific advantages be present or problems be solved.

Although the operations of some of the disclosed methods are described in a particular, sequential order for convenient presentation, it should be understood that this manner of description encompasses rearrangement, unless a particular ordering is required by specific language set forth below. For example, operations described sequentially may in some cases be rearranged or performed concurrently. Moreover, for the sake of simplicity, the attached figures may not show the various ways in which the disclosed methods can be used in conjunction with other methods. Additionally, the description sometimes uses terms like “determine” and “provide” to describe the disclosed methods. These terms are high-level abstractions of the actual operations that are performed. The actual operations that correspond to these terms may vary depending on the particular implementation and are readily discernible by one of ordinary skill in the art.

As used herein, the term “sweepstake” or “sweepstakes” means a contest in which participants are entered and prizes are awarded to one or more participants using a lottery-based selection process. As used herein, “participant” or “entrant” means a party that has been entered into a contest, such as a sweepstakes. As used herein, “sponsor” means a party that is sponsoring or otherwise providing the sweepstakes.

As used herein, the term “sweepstakes proposal” refers to a sweepstakes that is being prepared or constructed, either online or otherwise, by a user (e.g., a sponsor or a party acting on behalf of a sponsor). In contrast, the term “sweepstakes solution” refers to an end result of the software and systems described herein, the sweepstakes solution being a sweepstakes that is in condition to be implemented.

Implementation of the Systems and Methods Disclosed Herein

Various systems for implementing online sweepstakes and other similar contests are described herein. In some embodiments, these systems may be implemented or performed by software stored on one or more tangible computer-readable media (e.g., one or more optical media discs, volatile memory or storage components (such as DRAM or SRAM), or nonvolatile memory or storage components (such as hard drives)) and executed on one or more computing systems. The computing systems can include one or more central processing units (CPUs) and a memory, such as random access memory (RAM) for temporary storage of information and/or a read only memory (ROM) for permanent storage of information, and a mass storage device, such as a hard drive, diskette, or optical media storage device. Typically, the modules of the computing system are connected to the computer using a standards-based bus system, such as, for example, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), Microchannel, SCSI, Industrial Standard Architecture (ISA) and Extended ISA (EISA) architectures. The computing system may also include one or more commonly available input/output (I/O) devices and interfaces, such as a keyboard, a mouse, and/or a touchpad. In one embodiment, the I/O devices and interfaces include one or more display devices, such as a monitor, that allows the visual presentation of data to a user. More particularly, a display device provides for the presentation of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), application software data, and multimedia presentations, for example. The computing system may also provide a communications interface to various external devices.

Such software can be executed on a single computer or on a networked computer (e.g., via the Internet, a wide-area network, a local-area network, a client-server network, or other such network). The systems and methods disclosed herein can also be performed using cloud computing, a form of Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. The software embodiments disclosed herein can be described in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as those included in program modules, which can be executed in a computing environment on a target real or virtual processor. The computing system may run on a variety of computing devices, such as, for example, a server, a Windows server, a Structure Query Language server, a Unix server, a personal computer, a mainframe computer, a laptop computer, a cell phone, a personal digital assistant, a kiosk, an audio player, and so forth. The computing system is generally controlled and coordinated by operating system software. Conventional operating systems control and schedule computer processes for execution, perform memory management, provide file system, networking, and I/O services, and provide a user interface, such as a graphical user interface, among other things.

Furthermore, any of the software embodiments (comprising, for example, computer-executable instructions for causing a computer to perform any of the disclosed methods) can be transmitted, received, or accessed through a suitable communication means. Similarly, any data structure, data file, intermediate result, or final result created or modified using any of the disclosed methods can be transmitted, received, or accessed through a suitable communication means. Such suitable communication means include, for example, the Internet, the World Wide Web, an intranet, software applications, cable (including fiber optic cable), magnetic communications, electromagnetic communications (including RF, microwave, and infrared communications), electronic communications, or other such communication means now known or unknown. Moreover, any data structure, data file, intermediate result, or final result produced by any of the disclosed methods can be displayed to a user using a suitable display device (e.g., a computer monitor or display). Such displaying can be performed as part of a computer-implemented method of performing any of the disclosed methods.

FIG. 1 illustrates a generalized example of a suitable computing environment 100 in which the described embodiments of systems and methods of implementing sweepstakes and other similar contests can be implemented. The computing environment 100 is not intended to suggest any limitation as to scope of use or functionality, as the methods described herein can be implemented in diverse general-purpose or special-purpose computing environments.

With reference to FIG. 1, the computing environment 100 includes at least one processing unit 102 and memory 104. In FIG. 1, this most basic configuration 106 is included within a dashed line. The processing unit 102 executes computer-executable instructions and may be a real or a virtual processor. In a multi-processing system, multiple processing units execute computer-executable instructions to increase processing power. The memory 104 may be volatile memory (e.g., registers, cache, RAM), non-volatile memory (e.g., ROM, EEPROM, flash memory, etc.), or some combination of the two. The memory 104 stores software 116 implementing one or more of the systems described herein.

The computing environment may have additional features. For example, the computing environment 100 includes storage 108, one or more input devices 110, one or more output devices 112, and one or more communication connections 114. An interconnection mechanism (not shown) such as a bus, controller, or network interconnects the components of the computing environment 100. Typically, operating system software (not shown) provides an operating environment for other software executing in the computing environment 100, and coordinates activities of the components of the computing environment 100.

The storage 108 may be removable or non-removable, and includes magnetic disks, magnetic tapes or cassettes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or any other medium which can be used to store information and which can be accessed within the computing environment 100. The storage 108 can store instructions for the software 116 implementing any of the described systems and methods.

The input device(s) 110 can be a touch input device such as a keyboard, mouse, pen, or trackball, a voice input device, a scanning device, or another device that provides input to the computing environment 100. For audio or video encoding, the input device(s) 110 can be a sound card, video card, TV tuner card, or similar device that accepts audio or video input in analog or digital form, or a CD-ROM or CD-RW that reads audio or video samples into the computing environment 100. The output device(s) 112 can be a display, printer, speaker, CD-writer, or another device that provides output from the computing environment 100.

The communication connection(s) 114 enable communication over a communication medium to another computing entity. The communication medium is not a storage medium but conveys information such as computer-executable instructions, resource and construction project information, or other data in a modulated data signal. A modulated data signal is a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media include wired or wireless techniques implemented with an electrical, optical, RF, infrared, acoustic, or other carrier.

The various methods disclosed herein can be described in the general context of computer-readable media. Computer-readable media are any available media that can be accessed within or by a computing environment. By way of example, and not limitation, with the computing environment 100, computer-readable media include tangible computer-readable storage media such as memory 104 and storage 108.

Any of the aspects of the technology described herein can also be performed using a distributed computer network. FIG. 2 shows a simplified embodiment of one such exemplary network. A server computer 120 can have an associated storage device 122 (internal or external to the server computer). For example, the server computer 120 can be configured to perform the calculations and analysis of information according to any of the disclosed embodiments. The server computer 120 can be coupled to a network, shown generally at 124, which can comprise, for example, a wide-area network, a local-area network, a client-server network, the Internet, or other such network. One or more client computers, such as those shown at 126, 128, may be coupled to the network 124 using a network protocol. The work may also be performed on a single, dedicated workstation, which has its own memory and one or more CPUs.

FIG. 3 shows another exemplary network. One or more computers 132 communicate via a network 1304 and form a computing environment 130 (e.g., a distributed computing environment). Each of the computers 132 in the computing environment 130 can be used to perform at least a portion of the calculation techniques according to any of the disclosed embodiments. The network 134 in the illustrated embodiment is also coupled to one or more client computers 136.

FIG. 4 shows one exemplary manner in which computer-executable instructions for performing any of the disclosed embodiments can be transmitted, accessed, or received using a remote server computer (such as the server computer 120 shown in FIG. 2) or a remote computing environment (such as the computing environment 130 shown in FIG. 3). At process block 140, for example, the client computer sends a request to download computer-executable instructions for performing any of the disclosed methods or techniques (e.g., after registering or logging in to the system). In process block 142, the request is received by the remote server or by respective components of the remote computing environment. In process block 144, the remote server or computing environment transmits computer-executable instructions for performing any of the disclosed methods or techniques. At 146, the computer-executable instructions are received (e.g., stored, buffered, and/or executed) by the client computer.

Methods and Systems of Implementing Sweepstakes and other such Contests

A first embodiment of a system for implementing (e.g., providing and conducting) a sweepstakes is described below. The system can be configured to present to a sweepstakes sponsor (or provider) a set of FAQ/rules about the sweepstake process to the user. The user can be prompted to read, and agree to (if necessary), the FAQs or other rules of the sweepstakes process before going further. In some embodiments, a waiver of liability and indemnification clause can be provided to the user, which can be accepted electronically separately from and/or together with a terms of use provision.

As described in more detail below, a user can become a participant in a sweepstakes in a number of ways. For example, in one embodiment, an online user can log-on to an online portal and register to win, at no cost to them. In another embodiment, an online user can become a participant by performing a separate act, such as becoming a “Friend” of the sponsor on Facebook™ or some other social network site. Other possible manners in which to become a participant can include downloading a song or sending an email. In some embodiments, registration as an entrant can be achieved via a computing device that can access information online (e.g., via a website or via a smartphone application).

As described below, to become a sponsor, an online user can provide information about the sponsor and the sweepstakes. For example, the online user can provide relevant information about the identity of the sponsor of sweepstakes. Such information can include a personal name and address of the sponsor if the sponsor is a private party or a company name and contact information if the sponsor is a corporate or other such entity. This information can be placed by the system into the official sweepstakes rules as required by law.

The online user can also identify the total value of all prizes. If the amount is over a predetermined amount (e.g., $5,000 USD or as otherwise set, as laws regarding mandatory registration changes if it does), then the user can be provided with a notice regarding registration of the sweepstakes in one or more jurisdictions. For example, if the sweepstakes total value exceeds $5,000, notice may be given that prize requires mandatory registration with New York and Florida before being able to proceed. If the amount does not exceed the predetermined amount, the user will not be instructed about any registrations.

In some embodiments, if the total amount exceeds the predetermined amount, the system can be configured to require and/or instruct the user to hire a sweepstakes attorney to file notifications with those jurisdictions (e.g., New York and Florida) as required by law and post any required bond and so forth. For the purpose of setting forth this disclosure, the predetermined amount has been identified as $5,000; however, it should be understood that the amount may vary.

The online user can also be prompted to identify the number and type of prizes. In this regard, the user can enter the number of prizes and a description of the prizes. This information can also be automatically placed into the contest rules by the system. The user can also be prompted to enter a name of the sweepstakes. The name of the sweepstakes can also be automatically placed into the official sweepstakes rules. Relevant dates can also be entered by the user. These dates can include the start date and end date of the promotion, as well as any other dates that are relevant to the sweepstakes such as drawing dates for prizes.

The prizes that are offered by the sponsor can vary. For example, in some embodiments, the prizes can include music downloads, such as song downloads that can be downloaded via one or more online music sites. In such cases, the sponsor can be the musician, a musician's record label, or other interested or related party. Sponsors can also give away other digital files, such as movies, tv shows, books, and photos that they legally own the right to give away, thus putting on a sweepstakes by giving away items that are relatively inexpensive for them to give away but that have a potentially greater value to others. In some embodiments, prizes can include a mix of music prizes and other prizes include, for example, cash prizes or other awards, such as t-shirts.

In some embodiments, categories can be provided for certain giveaways as prizes. Users can be provided with an opportunity to state the desired monetary value of all prizes. The system can be configured to automatically add up all prize values as stated, and the system can be configured to restrict the user from publishing the promotion if the total value of prizes is over the mandatory amount that requires registration/bonding in the relevant states.

As shown in FIG. 5, step 201 comprises a query as to what prizes are to be distributed. Each prize and its value can be entered into the system as shown in step 203. After receiving one or more entries of prize amounts, step 205 asks whether the sponsor would like to give away any other prizes. If YES, the system can be configured to ask whether the user wants to select from suggested prizes at step 207. If NO, the user can be directed back to step 203 to enter additional prizes. If YES, the user can be directed to select from suggested prizes at step 209. Such suggested prizes can be selected via drop down menus or other similar selection processes. For example, a pull down window can be provided which allows the user to select from one or more of the following: T-Shirt, CD, Hat, Live Performance, Autographed Photo, Autographed T-Shirt, Autographed Poster, Mouse Pad, etc. After these additional prizes are selected, the system can be configured to determine the total value of all prizes using the information entered at step 203 and predetermined values of additional prizes selected at step 209. In this manner, the total value of all prizes can be easily calculated, thereby ensuring that a sponsor does not exceed a predetermined value, or if the sponsor does exceed a predetermined value, the sponsor is instructed as to how to comply with various state or other requirements.

Accordingly, the system and methods described above allow a user to put on a national sweepstakes without having to retain an attorney to write the standard sweepstakes rules and can also reduce the likelihood that a user will conduct an illegal contest. For example, the systems and method can provide that contest entrants are free, thereby eliminating possible problems that can arise with contests that are not free.

After reviewing the sweepstakes rules and the information entered, the user can then publish the contest via music sites, email, Facebook™, and various other portals. A special tool can be provided for a variety of portals to allow publication of the sweepstakes on each of those portals. The system can be configured to track the number of entrants and on the final day of the promotional period, an automated system can be configured to pick one or more random winners (depending on the prizes to be distributed) and send notices to those winners of the sweepstakes. In some embodiments, the sponsor can choose to contact the winners themselves, and, in that event, email addresses for the winner can be provided along with a pre-written notice of winning form that the sponsor can email to the winners. In addition, if desired by the sponsor, a “right to use the name and likeness and winner affidavit” can also be automatically prepared and made available. Winners can claim their prizes in various manners. In one embodiment, winners can be instructed to log in to electronically sign the winner affidavit and name and likeness form and any other required legal documents.

The sweepstakes generally cannot be stopped after it has started, due to legal restrictions. In some embodiments, the system can be configured to automatically check the IP of entrants and block entrants from jurisdictions where entry is prohibited. For example, in one embodiment, the system can be configured to restrict access from Canada, Guam, etc., but otherwise allow access to enter the contest from IPs in the 50 states and Washington D.C.

In some embodiments, entry to the sweepstakes can be restricted based on skills and/or talents of the entrant. In other words, entry into the sweepstakes will require the specific skill or endeavor to be entered by the Sponsor/user. In such events, an explanation about how judging will take place and how the winners will be selected can be provided. This information can also be automatically entered into the contest rules.

Again, if the amount of the prizes meets or exceeds the amount where bonding and/or registration is required by law the promotion will not be allowed to be published. In such cases, the user can be prompted to lower the value of the prizes, or number of prizes, in order to get under the statutory limit. Alternatively, the user can be prompted to retain legal counsel and the system can be configured to require authorization by outside legal counsel prior to permitting publication. Where legal counsel is required, the system can be configured to suggest and/or direct the user to proposed legal counsel. In some embodiments, only lawyers registered with the system can log in to approve a contest that requires sign off by counsel (e.g., over $5,000 USD in prize money). In some embodiments, lawyers must pay a fee to register with the system or to be otherwise recommended by the system. In yet other embodiments, lawyers can be paid directly by the system based on a previously-negotiated fee. In such an embodiment, the system would first charge the user and then the system would pay the previously-negotiated fee to the lawyer.

Using the systems and methods described herein, a user (e.g., a sponsor or future sponsor) can be advised of various sweepstakes restrictions and/or requirements. For example, a user can learn why it is best to restrict entrants to people who live in the USA and about dollar restrictions on certain sweepstakes. Thus, the user will learn that if the dollar restriction is exceeded, the contest will not be published until a law firm signs off on the rules and other elements and assures that registration is either not required or has been done. The user can also learn about instances where bonds must be posted and those where bonds are not necessary. For example, some states do not require bonding and registration with more than $5,000 USD promotions if they are not skill based and are random selection based.

In some embodiments, the sweepstakes rules can be published to a web address automatically created by the system. The following is an example of rules generated by the system showing where the system can autoload information to create a final legal document.

EXAMPLE 1

Exemplary Automated Rules for Sweepstakes

The following is an example of Rules that have been generated for a sweepstakes using the system and methods described above. In this example, at least the following information has been input by the user (i.e., sponsor):

  • Sponsor: ACME BAND (with email address as contact information)
  • Title: GET IT NOW
  • Sweepstakes period: 12:00:01 AM (EST) MONTH DAY, 20xx and ending at 11:59:59 PM (EST) MONTH DAY, 20XX
  • Residence requirements: US resident
  • Prizes: Five (5) Grand Prize Winners will receive $1,000

Nineteen (19) First Prize winners will each receive a signed t-shirt.

One Thousand (1000) Second Prize winners will receive a free download of one song selected by the Sponsor, available via the Sponsor's EarDish Artist Page.

  • Other Requirements: Must be a registered FAN (or FRIEND) of the artist on a social networking site (e.g., Facebook™ or EarDish website).

Acme Band Get it Now Sweepstakes Rules

1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A purchase of a product or service from this EarDish Artist will not improve the chance of winning. Void where prohibited. Subject to all federal, state, and local laws. Participation requires Internet access. This Sweepstakes is presented exclusively by the above named artist and is not presented by the EarDish Corporation. Sponsor of this Sweepstakes is Acme Band. The above named artists are solely responsible for the text of this document and all management and legal responsibility of this Sweepstakes promotion. Any and all legal issues involving this artist presented promotion are solely between you and the artist presenting this Sweepstakes.

2. CAN I PARTICIPATE? To participate in this Artist's Sweepstakes, you must be a current EarDish registered FAN of the artist.

You must be a legal resident of one of the 50 United States, or the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico, and above the age of majority in the state or territory in which you reside at the time of entry.

Employees of EarDish Corporation and its affiliated companies and members of the immediate families of each are not eligible. Employees of the Artist and immediate family members of each are not eligible. The Sweepstakes is subject to all local, state and federal laws and regulations. By entering this Sweepstakes, all entrants agree to comply with and be bound by these Official Rules, and to comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

You must be a true fan of this artist.

3. SWEEPSTAKES PERIOD. The ACME BAND GET IT NOW SWEEPSTAKES will be accepting entries online starting at or about 12:00:01 AM (EST) MONTH DAY, 20xx and ending at 11:59:59 PM (EST) MONTH DAY, 20XX (The “Contest Period”). All online entries must be received by 11:59:59 PM (EST) MONTH DAY, 20xx. Participants assume all risk of lost, late, misdirected, incomplete or illegible entries. All entries submitted become the sole property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.

4. HOW DO I ENTER? One entry per person. To enter, you must be a registered EarDish User who is a fan of the Sponsor by using the FAN the Band tool. By becoming a FAN of the Band you are automatically entered into the Sweepstakes. Submitting an entry constitutes agreeing to the terms of these Official Rules and all decisions of Sponsor and/or its designee, which are final and binding in all respects. Sponsor is not responsible for incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete entry of information or any technical issues that result in any entries being lost or defective in nature. YOU MUST HAVE A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS REGISTERED WITH YOUR EARDISH ACCOUNT DURING THE SWEEPSTAKES PERIOD (FROM THE TIME IT STARTS UNTIL THE TIME IT ENDS) AND DURING THE ENTIRE TIME YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER OF EARDISH IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE. INVALID EMAIL ADDRESS WILL RENDER YOUR ENTRY VOID. THE NAME IN WHICH YOU REGISTER UNDER FOR YOUR EARDISH MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNT MUST BE YOUR LAWFUL, ACCURATE AND COMPLETE NAME. WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED BY EMAIL ONLY. ALL PRIZES AND AWARDS ARE VOID IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND TO THE EMAIL NOTIFICATION THAT YOU HAVE WON WITHIN SEVEN DAYS OF THE EMAIL NOTIFICATION SENT TO YOU. SONG DOWNLOADS ARE DELIVERED FROM THE ARTIST PAGE. ANY PHYSICAL PRIZES MUST BE MAILED TO YOUR USA ADDRESS ONLY AND YOU MUST SUBMIT YOUR PHYSICAL MAILING ADDRESS UPON REQUEST SO THAT YOUR PRIZE MAY BE SENT TO YOU.

WHAT CAN I WIN? Five (5) Grand Prizes. Five (5) Grand Prize Winners will receive $1,000. Winners will be paid by check only and the funds transferred no later than MONTH DAY, 20xx. In the event that this deadline is not satisfied, the Entrant will forfeit the prize and the prize will not be awarded. No interest will be paid for the time between the date the winner is chosen and the date that the check is issued. Nineteen (19) First Prizes. Nineteen (19) First Prize winners will each receive a signed t-shirt. One Thousand (1000) Second Prizes. Each Second Prize winner will receive a free download of one song selected by the Sponsor, available via the Sponsor's EarDish Artist Page. If you are under 18 and are selected as a Grand Prize or First Prize Winner, a signed parental waiver is required as a condition of receiving prizes. Winners and/or winners' parents or legal guardians in the event winner is a minor under the laws of winner's state of residence are responsible for the reporting and payment of all federal, state and local taxes incurred by the acceptance of the prize. Prizes cannot be assigned, transferred, exchanged or otherwise redeemed. Sponsor is not responsible for any costs associated with accepting or otherwise using the prize. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission to the Sponsor and its agents to use winner's name, and likeness for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

Sponsor. The Sponsor of this contest is ACME BAND. All requests for information may be sent to the ACME BAND email address of Acmeband@aol.com.

The system can also be configured to establish and provide other parameters of the sweepstakes to permit further optimization, customization, and/or control. For example, the system can be configured so that the user can select a particular hour or hours, day, week or month to run the contest on a participating website, tv show, or other medium. For example, the sweepstakes can be prominently displayed on a social networking site and television show (e.g., the EarDish network) during certain hours and the system can be configured to show the user what time periods are available, as some may be closed to all but one contest being run. In some embodiments, a user may be able to pay a premium to black out times/dates and have the only contest running.

In addition to showing available time slots, the system can be configured to show what time periods are “popular” and “successful” based on how much traffic other contests have had during the same time slots. Such time slots can be characterized as “prime time” and, at least in some embodiments, these time slots can be higher priced than other, less heavily visited time slots. In some embodiments, the system can be configured to provide slots for free (e.g., unpopular time slots or slots that for some other reasons are potentially less desirable). Generally, however, the price to run a contest during any particular time slot will be based on demand for that time slot (whether hour, day, week or whatever).

As noted above, the system can be configured to determine what time periods are more or less popular based on past results of contests. Not only can pricing be based on this model, but users can use this information to help them make decisions about their sweepstakes and the desired amount of popularity they are seeking. In some embodiments, users can pre-select time slots for future contests, such as by blocking out Christmas day, and reserving them in advance by paying a non-refundable fee to do so. If the contest does not launch on the selected launch date; however, the deposit is preferably kept by the system. In some embodiments, pre-registered time slots that have been paid for can be traded or sold through an exchange. Although the system can be configured to allow transfer of reserved contests or sweepstakes, the system may be configured to require a transfer fee. In that manner, people can pre-book contest time slots and exchange them but face the risk of losing their deposit if they do not launch a contest.

In some embodiments, users can also pay to obtain statistics on previous contests, which would include demographics of contestants (age, area, sex, music genre they favor, types of contests they enter, types they do not enter and so forth). The system can be configured to collect, store, and analyze these statistics based on information entered by sponsors and participants. For example, for any band or other musician that is providing a concert, such band can enter information about their music, such as by selecting one or more genres that best characterize their music. Similarly, participants can be asked to provide survey information beyond age and geographic location. For example, for the music example, participants can provide information about their favorite types (genres) of music, their favorite musicians, and other related and helpful information for identifying and categorizing statistics about various sweepstakes.

In some embodiments, contests/promotions can be specifically targeted based on similar demographics and/or other information. Thus, promotions can be targeted to individual users based on demographics so that “teens” or whatever demographic or combo of demographics can be targeted to a specific promotion. Promotion creators can use various tools including the scheduling tools and statistical information tools disclosed herein. Promotions can also be targeted by genre of music, fans, promotes and other profile pages as well. For example, a contest can be limited to 18 year old girls in Chicago who “like” Heavy Metal on a social networking site (such as EarDish). To facilitate targeted sweepstakes or the like, eligible participants can be asked to select their favorite musical genres when registering to receive information about available sweepstakes. In some embodiments, the system can be configured with numerous musical genres that can be designated by a registering participant. In addition to musical genres, registered potential participants can be targeted based on other more or less specific interests, such as specific musical artists they have listed in the profile.

In some embodiments, sponsors with flexible dates can select “do not have preference for date” features and therefore, dates of the contest will be selected by the system in view of the range of dates identified by the sponsor and dates available for sweepstakes. This can be performed not only for specific days but very useful for certain hours of the day when the contest can be run.

In some embodiments, one-hour only contests (or other short duration contests) can be provided. Such one hour sweepstakes would be open for only the period of time designated (e.g., one hour). Conventional sweepstakes are not generally limited to such short increments of time. In some embodiments, such sweepstakes can be for non-continuous periods. For example, in some embodiments, entries can only be received for one hour over a particular period (e.g., between noon-1 pm each Monday for a month).

In order to facilitate very short period sweepstakes, the system can be configured to locate the best time, day, week, month for particular promotions based on a scheduling of “hourly,” “daily,” “week long,” and/or “month long” promotion periods so that contest creators can select to put on a promotion that will run for a particular hour of a particular day, one day of a particular week, a particular week, and/or a particular month. For such events, contests can be configured to be run through the particular period. For example, a “one-hour” promotional event can start at the first minute of that hour and conclude at the end of that particular hour.

In one embodiment, the system can be configured to request that a user pick a promotion period (Hour, Day, Week, Month) based on (a) how “empty” the period is (fewer or no contests already set) and/or (b) how “popular” the period, that is, the individual period that draws the most contestants. For example, one particular hour, such as Friday Night at 9 PM might gather X number of contestants, and is as such “Prime Time” for promotions. In some embodiments, Prime Time can be rated on a scale, so that some Prime Time spots are more or less popular than other Prime Time slots. In addition, the system can be configured to shift the “prime time” spots based on actual popularity over time. Accordingly, some time slots will go up the popularity ranking and others down as user amounts are calculated monthly, weekly, daily, or in some cases, even hourly.

In some embodiments, users can be able to know who is putting on a promotion at a set time slot, day slot, etc., using a tool configured to help them pick the emptiest area if that is desired. For example, they may see that the Tuesday 8 am slot is empty when compared to the Wednesday 8 am slot and all other time slots. In some embodiments, the names of the listed sponsors are not identified, while in other embodiments, the names of the sponsors are identified in the scheduling tool.

The scheduling tool can comprise a graphical user interface that illustrates the available slots. For example, blocks for hours (24 per day of course), days (7 days a week), weeks (4), and months (12) can be filled in advance. Premium payments for blocking out periods more than 30 days in advance will be charged so that advance “appointments” can be scheduled, but at least in some embodiments, they must be paid for in advance. As noted above in other embodiments, “appointments” can be traded with others of sold blocks (with payment of a transfer fee). In some embodiments, individual time slots in all categories (hour, day, week, month) can be bid on for prime hours with the slot going to the highest bidder.

As noted above, participation in certain sweepstakes can be limited to individuals of certain demographics or fan bases. For example, participation in one sweepstakes can be predicated on becoming a “fan” of a particular group or entity on Facebook™. In other embodiments, participation can be restricted to those who have downloaded or otherwise accessed various information (such as downloads of music or other entertainment). In some embodiments, a participant can be entered into a sweepstakes after downloading a game or other systems via the Internet, such as through websites, Facebook™, and/or other social media.

In view of the many possible embodiments to which the principles of the disclosed invention may be applied, it should be recognized that the illustrated embodiments are only preferred examples of the invention and should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention. Rather, the scope of the invention is defined by the following claims. We therefore claim as our invention all that comes within the scope and spirit of these claims.