CoolSavings Granted Patent for Internet Coupon Service

Chicago-based CoolSavings said it received a U.S. patent for its online coupon distribution service.

Specifically, the patented system protects the anonymity of consumers, while permitting advertisers to target them with coupon offers based on various household characteristics and shopping habits, the company said.

The system also allows advertisers to limit the number of coupons distributed in total or per household and allows real-time management of online promotions. Additional patent benefits include a boost to the CoolSavings national brand as well as a significant barrier to entry for any current or future competitors, the company said.

“The patent creates a potential barrier for any company attempting to distribute coupons over the Internet,” said Steven M. Golden, chairman and CEO of CoolSavings. “The patented CoolSavings program acts as a target marketing tool for advertisers and a privacy advocate for consumers.”

Besides offering traditional coupons, the site builds store traffic through contests and retailer promotions. For example, H&R Block recently posted a $25-off coupon on tax preparation accompanied by a trivia contest with a $5,000 grand prize. Out of the first 6,000 contestants, 4,000 downloaded the coupon.

Launched in March 1997, CoolSavings said it now lists as clients more than 30 national advertisers including J.C. Penney, Kmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Barnes & Noble, National Car Rental, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Pearle Vision, LensCrafters, ServiceMaster, Fashion Bug, Blockbuster, McDonald’s, Long John Silver’s and Footaction.

In the 12 months since, CoolSavings has registered more than 900,000 shoppers and said it is projected to grow to more than 1.5 million shoppers by September.

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