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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA CROSS ATLANTIC CAPITAL Ei PARTNERS, INC. 7 CIVIL ACTION 100 Matsonford Road : Building 5, Suite 555 t NO.: 07-CV-_ Radnor, PA 19087, : Plaintiff, : JURY TRIAL DEMANDED vs. FACEBOOK, INC. 156 University Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301-1605, AND THEFACEBOOK, LLC 156 University Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301-1605, Defendants. COMPLAINT Plaintiff, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Inc., by and through its undersigned counsel, complaining of the defendants, Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC, avers as follows: JURISDICTION AND VENUE 1. This action is a claim for patent infringement arising under the Patent Laws of the United States, Title 35, United States Code §§ 1 er seg. 2. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction based upon Title 28, U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1338(a) 3. Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to Title 28, U.S.C. §§ 1391(b) & (c), as well as 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) in that acts of patent infringement are occurring within this judicial district, and the defendants are subject to jurisdiction in this judicial district. THE PARTIES 4, Atall times relevant hereto, plaintiff Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Inc. (“XACP") is a corporation organized and existing pursuant to the laws of the State of Delaware and has a principal place of business at 100 Matsonford Road, Building 5, Suite 585, Radnor, PA 19087. 5. On information and belief, defendant Facebook, Inc. is a corporation organized and existing pursuant to the laws of the State of Delaware and has a principal place of business at 156 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301-1605. Facebook, Inc. was formally named Thefacebook, Inc., and it is interchangeably referred to herein as Facebook, Inc. 6. On information and belief, defendant Thefacebook, LLC is a limited liability corporation organized and existing pursuant to the laws of the State of Florida and has a principal place of business at 156 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301- 1605. Its sole member is Facebook, Inc. 7, Defendants are in the business of, inter alia, owning, making, operating, maintaining, marketing, selling advertising for, and generating income and profits from ®, an Internet website called “Facebook®” with a domain address of “facebook.com” (formally “thefacebook.com”) that facilitates the creation of online communities by its registered users (hereafter, “the Facebook® web site”). 8. Atall times relevant hereto, defendants acted through their respective agents, representatives, employees and servants, all of whom acted within the course and scope of their duties and responsibilities FACTS 9. Plaintiff XACP is the assignee of complete interest in United States Patent No, 6,519,629 B2 (“"629 Patent”), entitled System for Creating a Community for Users with Common Interests to Interact In. A copy of the ‘629 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit “A.” 10. On February 25, 2000, Jamey Harvey, Andrew Fegley, Matt Hulan, and Robert Dekelbaum (collectively, “the inventors”), filed United States Patent Application Serial No. 09/513,844, which was a continuation-in-part of application No. 09/264,988, filed on September 15, 1998. 11. On or about November 13, 2001, the inventors assigned their complete interest in the aforementioned patent application and any patent that issued therefrom to iKimbo, Inc. 12, On February 11, 2003, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the ‘629 Patent in the name of the inventors and iKimbo, Inc., as assignee. 13. The ‘629 Patent discloses and claims, inter alia, novel systems and methods for creating a community for users with common interests to interact in. 3 14, On or about August 31, 2004, iKimbo, Inc. assigned its complete interest in the ‘629 Patent to Cross Atlantic Technology Fund, L.P. and The Co-Investment 2000 Fund, LP., which subsequently assigned their complete interest in the “629 Patent to plaintiff XACP. 15. Initial development of the Facebook® website began no earlier than December 2003. 16. On or about January 11, 2004, the domain name, “TheFaceBook.com,” was registered, 17. On February 4, 2004, the Facebook® website went live. 18. On information and belief, defendant Facebook, Inc. has been using and marketing, through the Facebook” website, systems and methods for creating online conimunities covered by one or more claims of the ‘629 Patent since the defendant's formation, which was not later than July 29, 2004. 19. On information and belief, defendant Thefacebook, LLC has been using and marketing, through the Facebook” website, systems and methods for creating online communities covered by one or more claims of the ‘629 Patent since the defendant's formation, which was not later than June 19, 2006. 20. Defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC have targeted and continue to directly target the Facebook” website to, and knowingly interact with, residents of Pennsylvania, including, but not limited to, students at the approximately 125 colleges and universities and the hundreds of high schools in this judicial district, as well as elsewhere in Pennsylvania 21. Defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC have entered and continue to enter into commercial agreements, collaborations, joint ventures and/or partnerships relating to the use and operation of the Facebook® website with residents of Pennsylvania, including, but not limited to, Comeast Interactive Media, LLC, which is principally located at 1500 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102. COUNTI PATENT INFRINGEME! 22. _ Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 21 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein. 23. Acts which constitute direct infringement, inducement of infringement and contributory infringement by defendants of some or all of the claims of the '629 Patent are taking place in the United States, including, but not limited to, within this judicial district. 24. Throughout the United States and this judicial district, defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC are in the business of, inter alia, owning, making, operating, maintaining, marketing, selling advertising for, and generating income and profits from the Facebook” website which facilitates the creation of online communities by its registered users through the use of systems and methods covered by one or more claims of the '629 Patent. 25. Throughout the United States and this judicial district, defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC, through the Facebook® website, have induced and continue to actively induce others to infringe one or more claims of the ‘629 Patent. 26. Throughout the United States and this judicial district, defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC, through the Facebook® website, have and continue to aid and abet others to infringe one or more claims of the ‘629 Patent, 27. As of their formation, but not later than February 11, 2003, defendants have had knowledge of the existence of the '629 Patent. 28. The infringement by defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC of one or more claims of the ‘629 Patent has deprived plaintiff XACP of revenues which it otherwise would have made or caused to be made, and has in other respects, injured XACP and will cause XACP added injury and loss of revenues unless enjoined by this Court, 29. Notice of the existence of the ‘629 Patent having been provided to defendants, the past conduct of the defendants having been wanton and willful and, therefore, constitutes willful and deliberate infringement of the claims of the ‘629 Patent warranting the assessment of treble damages pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 284 30. The defendants’ infringement of the claims of the ‘629 Patent will continue unless enjoined by this Court. WHEREFORE, plaintiff Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Inc. prays for judgment against defendants Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC and requests that this Court: 6 A. — Enter a finding and a judgment in favor of XACP and against Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC for patent infringement in an amount to be ascertained and in an amount adequate to compensate XACP for Facebook, Inc.’s and Thefacebook, LLC’s infringement including, but not limited to, Facebook, Inc.’s and Thefacebook, LLC’s profits, but in no event less than a reasonable royalty for the use made of the invention by Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC, such amount being increased three times, together with prejudgment and post-judgment interest and costs as fixed by the Court, as provided by 35 U.S.C. § 284; B. Enter a preliminary and permanent injunction against further and continued infringement of the claims of the ‘629 Patent by Facebook, Inc. and Thefacebook, LLC, as provided by 35 U.S.C. § 283; | C. Declare that this case is exceptional and award XACP its reasonable attorney fees as the prevailing party, as provided by 35 U.S.C. § 285; and D. appropriate. Grant XACP such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and Respectfully submitted, Dated: July 3, 2007 TDivpe2— Frederick A. Técce, Esquire (PA ID # 47298) McSuea\TECcce, P.C. ‘The Bell Atlantic Tower - 28" Floor 1717 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215) 599-0800 (215) 599-0888 (Fax) fiecce@meshea-tecce.com Counsel for plaintiff Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Inc. and Thomas J. Duffy, Esquire (PA ID # 34729) Patrick J. Keenan, Esquire (PA ID # $3775) Duffy & Keenan The Curtis Center, Suite 1150 Independence Square West Philadelphia, PA 19106 (215) 238-8700 710 (fax) eenan.com EXHIBIT A | cs United States Patent Harvey et al (68) SYSTEM FOR CREATING A COMMUNITY FOR USERS WITH COMMON INTERESTS | TO INTERACT IN (15). Yaventors: Jamey Harvey, Reston, VA US); ‘Andrew Fegly Falls Church, VA (US); Matt Hulan, Rockville, MD (US) Robert Dekelbaum, Siver Spring, MD ws) (73) Assigoee: Kimbo, In, Reston, VA (US) (2) Notice: Subject to any disclaimer tbe enn of this patent is extended or adjused under 35 USC. 154) by 58 cays, (21) Appl. No: 09/968,386 (2 Files: O«t.2, 2001 © Prior Publication Data 1s 20020050379 At May 16,2002 Related U.S. Application Data | (60) Division of sgplition No. 05/515,844, Sed on Feb. 25, Zot wan" cotaiona-prt 0 appcaton Ne Seabee, ied on Sep 35,158 seventies GOP 900 | } {S.C oo 7087208; 109/203; 7097217 ‘ held of Seapeh nnn 708/200, 201, 703/203, 204,205, 237, 238, 219, 220, 223, 204, 233 65) References Cited US, PATENT DOCUMENTS 5800366 A ANOT Hentai 728 ‘Mt l Go) Patent No.: G5) Date of Patent OOOO 0 A MOSS US 6,519,629 B2 Feb. 11, 2003 ance 51958 ans56 51558 + 199 22000 2000 spanase Satss A+ OTHER PUBLICATIONS ‘Watks, Mark etal, “JAVA Raper Solutions", Que Corpo ration 1997; Chapers 6,10, 21 and 37 Fregly, Andrew M., “Mechanisms for Feletronie Doeumen= tation Distribution”. * cite by examiner Primary Examiner—Mowsafa M. Meky (18) Attorney, gers, or Firm—Cooley Godward LLP on ABSTRACT ‘An Information and Application Distribution System (ADS) is disclosed. The TADS operates, in oF embodiment to dstbate, initiate and allow interaction a ‘communication within like-minded communities, Appl tion distcbatio ocous though the transmission and ecept ‘of 20"uviationsppication” which couains both a meseage ‘component spd s9execulable compooent to enable lip ‘ser to conaeetwibin a specie community. The applies tion object includes functionality which allows the user's loos! computer to aulomatcally st ap a user interface to ‘connect with cetrl contrller which faites interaction Sod ftrodusion between sed among wer. 32 Claims, 15 Drawing Sheets ~ Pie i Hee acl MEMORY: 440 41 ‘MEMORY ila DISPLAY ‘adb~J DISPLAY NpuroEncE} 12a [eur pence} am FIG. 1 US. Patent Feb, 11, 2003 US 6,519,629 B2 Sheet 2 of 15 L USER SETS COMMUNITY | 205 USER IS TOLD THAT THE ID NAME DESCRIPTION CHOSEN CL.ISA SEARCH TAGS KEYWORD DUPLICATE TOPLINE KEY 104 ol is 208~] ‘USER SETS CATEGORY WITHIN NAVIGATION HEIRARCHY WHERE COMMUNITY WL BE LOCATED ¥ 210~ USER PICKS LOOK AND FEEL FROM STANDARD TEMPLATES| SER WANTS) a 2 pniaNceD LOK >— Yes 9 SE re AND FEEL? no + aye-~[ , USER SETS TEXT FOR e ANNOUNCEMENTS SCREENS x 20 m 6 \ si 8 LINK WIZARD- USER, [LINK WZARD -USER 7E~} PLATFORM gg 7 4020 SESSION conTROLer — | ~4060 0S GOVERNOR SERVER [4080 41008 41000 2 APPLICATION APPLICATION ‘APPLICATION APPLICATION COnTOLUER CONTROLER CONTROLLER | -** | CONTROLLER c N 7 4100 40 FIG. 5 U.S. Patent Feb. 11, 2003 Sheet 6 of 15 Os cRYPTO ROM 35 Na] 5 US 6,519,629 B2 Lc 7 ES Lock’ 35 0 PLAYER MONTTOR ANDANALYSISAPP. [345 CENTRAL ‘CONTROLLER EMAL ICO. IRC. AWWA, ETC. 205 180 115 FIG. 6 PuveR || DATABASE DATABASE 350 5 NouRY DATABASE MESSAGE DATABASE 2360 365 AUDIT DATABASE 30 OnieR DATABASE pa a5 DDATA STORAGE DEVICES 7 160 U.S. Patent Feb. 11, 2003 START Sheet 7 of 15 US 6,519,629 B2 E-MAIL RECEIVED BY USER E-MAIL INVOKES: CENTRAL CONTROLLER ‘CENTRAL OER ORTON ———_!___ USER PROVIDES: a a ee ble IN \T ROOM ¥ USER REQUESTS A GAME 405 CONNECTIONTO 419 REQUESTS — Lig INFORMATION [~420 430, [431 CENTRAL CONTROLLER INITIATES GAME 435 gee t USER PARTICIPATES IN| ‘COORDINATED GAME |~440 x COORDINATED — Ly GAME TERMINATES 2 ¥ POSTAPPLICATION |. PROCESSING 480 | END 485 U.S. Patent Feb. 11, 2003 Sheet 8 of 15 ‘US 6,519,629 B2 TRANSHISSION BY E-MALTO POTENTIAL USER ‘APPLICATION ORECT? NO. USERBROWSES TOWEBSTE }X 541 T USER DOWNLOADS VERFICATION APPLICATION} 512 { VERIFICATION OF APPLICATION OBJECT [513 I RESPONSE FROM WEBSITE L544 wn Ho 520 ALERT USER -APPLICATION ALERT USERAND CLOSE OBIECTVERFIED [ste DOMNCORMNTCATINS 5 INK | SS | FLESTARTSUP LOBBY" Par 8 | SCREEN 0 | STARTREGISTRATION 505 | yo | COMPLETE REGISTRATION JX. s4p I — TOSHEET2 FIG. 8A-1 | U.S. Patent Feb. 11, 2003 Sheet 9 of 15 US 6,519,629 B2 FROM SHEET 1 CLIENT SEND REGISTRATION}. gy INFORMATION TO SERVER is INFORMATION COMPLETE? | SEND FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS. 1555 TOUSER USER ANSWERS FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS 580 USERRECENES CRYPTO ey bd L. _t USER ENTER"LOBBY* CHAT 1. 579 ROOM CLIENT DOWNLOADS SUPPORTING MATERIALS [575 FOR GAMES a TOSHEET3 50 FIG. 8A-2 US. Patent Feb. 11, 2003 Sheet 10 of 15 US 6,519,629 B2 FROM SHEET? FROM SHEETs t seecrnamess 55 t PLAYERS SHIFT TO GAME FROMFIG. 58 SPACE 512 PLAY GAME 508 GAMETERMNATES LK gtqp ‘SCORE DETERMINATION 5135, TOES GANEALLONN. yes FOR VIRTUAL VALUE REALLOCATION? 55 NODIFY SCORE TO DETERMINE [~ 5145, Leth eel as INCREASE OF LOSS OF VIRTUAL VUE SENDTOUSERTICKET « [~ 5150 ADDORSUBTRACT FROM — [~ 550 ACCOUNT APPROPRIATE USER ACCOUNTS END GAVE 5165 f TO SHEET FIG. 8A-3 U.S. Patent Feb. 11,2003 ‘Sheet 11 of 15 FIG, 8A-4 FRON SHEET 3 } RETURNTOLOBBY A 5170 7 FROM SHEETS yes TOOTHERS 5180 USER DESIGNATES OTHER > 5105 PLAYER TO RECEIVE VIA EAL START UP EXE FILE ‘SENDTO SERVER 710 RETURNTOLOBBY LK 5495, SERUERSENDS DE ALE TO i PLAYERS ExT son US 6,519,629 B2 5205 U.S. Patent —Feb. 11,2003 Sheet 12 of 15 USERDEDDESTOPLAYA Ly t LOGONTOSERVER LK gy5 t PLAYERAUTHORZATION LK. syay PROPER) NO fuTHeNTCATON YES. 525 SERVERTERMINATESLNK [5739 “LOBBY OPENS po SERVER DETERMINES USER STATUSAND UPDATES AS ‘APPROPRIATE US 6,519,629 B2 5235 S240 AUTOMATICALLY ESTABLISH CONNECTION } CONVERSATION IS CONDUCTED p+ 8255 i CONVERSATION ENDS AND RETURN TOLOBBY p~5260 TOFIGURESA SHEETS}. gpap [_ EXT FIG. 8B 5270 U.S. Patent Feb. 11,2003 Sheet 13 of 15 ‘US 6,519,629 B2 PLAYERLOGSON —_ gqq PLAYER ENTERS CHAT ROOM AND MEETS ANOTHER PLAYER 805 PLAYER PLAYS THE GAME 620 { GAME ENDS AND FINAL SCORE COMPUTED FOR EACH PLAYER [~625 IS PLAYER AWINNER? PLAYER SCORE MODIFIED AS REQUIRED. [635 7 MODIFIED SCORE CONVERTED INTO VIRTUAL VALUE 7 640 1 VIRTUAL VALUE PLACED INTO PLAYER ACCOUNT. 645 FIG. 9 U.S. Patent Feb. 11,2003 Sheet 14 of 15 US 6,519,629 B2 PLAYER COMPUTER SCORE USED TO COMPUTE VIRTUAL VALUE 700 DOES GAME ALLOW: FOR VIRTUAL VALUE REALLOCATION?, ACCOUNT ADJUSTMENTS — [715 | EXIT ™ 720 FIG. 10 U.S. Patent Feb. 11,2003 Sheet 15 of 15 US 6,519,629 B2 FIG. 11 PLAYER DECIDES HE/SHE NEEDS ADDITIONAL ‘CARDS ANDIOR PRODUCTS p> 800 PLAYER LOGS ONTO CENTRAL CONTROLLER SITE [> 805 Z PLAYER REVIEWS CARDS ANDIOR PRODUCTS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE [810 Y PLAYER DECIDES ON CARDS AND/OR PRODUCTS 10 PURCHASE [> 815 t PLAYER ORDERS CARDS ANDIOR PRODUCTS | g99 =>—_—_————_—__—_ PLAYER PAYS FOR CARDS ANDIOR PRODUCTS BY E-COMMERCE MEANS [+85 y PRODUCT SENT eo US 6,519,629 B2 a ‘SYSTEM FOR CREATING A COMMUNITY FOR USERS WITH COMMON INTERESTS ‘TO INTERACT IN “This applicton i cvisiona aplication of application ‘Ser.No. 09/513,844, il pending fled Feb. 25,2000 which "4 Continuation-in-Pr of application Ser. No. 05/264, 988. sll pending fle Sep. 15, 198, the entire content of which 5s hereby incorpraied by reference. FIELD OF THE INVENTION ‘This invention celats generally to software and informs- tion distbution sad contol. More particularly this iaven- tion relates tothe ure of varoue communications protocols inorder distribute and enable community applications and information rough «public or private network to enable ‘wer to interact 120 communicate with ike-minded com- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION ‘The recent explosion of the Ineroet is due to many factors. One pray factor is the availabilty of practically ‘wolimlied information. Users can access data about companies news evens, sports, orgeizaions apd almost ‘oything else under te sum Another beoeit ofthe Interact {sis inberent bility o permit communication among users. Various standard protecls allow for information and resource exchange threugh exsail, chat rooms, a5 well a5 ‘Usenet and other ballon boards. A tied mor eas for {he Inert’ grow tbe lage numberof fe o low cost oftware applications which can be secesed through 23 Internet connection, Teer 5 a vas: amount of sofware svallable on Interet servers which can be downloaded 10 the user's loa! compuler sod executed later. In addon, through online slores aad olher electronic commerce applications, iis possble for Ileroct users to purchase Software and pay for it without ever placing 2 call oF ‘otherwise communicating wih the software vendor. Tn most case, including interaction tough the Internet, 48 generally required that each user bave an executable ‘copy of client software program locally at bis or her ‘compwter This may be accomplished by dowaloading the ‘conventional computer executable code fom » server prior to interaction, Astin ite oesbe fo downoad code, ‘such a5 Jave code, trough 2 user's browser application. ‘Once each user has local copy of te sofware, here aro vrrious methods through whic users can "meat" her users nd ines, ‘Uses et ener public or private chat rooms where users ‘with similar interes may be leated. For example, in the Context of «gaming envizenrent, oce all specie uses are ‘eauiied interaction may be commenced viaa game aver ‘which eontos tbe inlerscton of play berveen and among, tbe tore. Th server communicates with each of he player's local computers through an Internet connection, Iti tbe server's responsibil to, for example, ensue thet rules are ‘complied with and that stions aad actions iitated by one player are communicated to otter players. Inthe cootext of 2 community cat room, such a, for example, a ebal rooms ‘devoted to sling, the server may be sesponsble for enabling uses (o communicate. News groups may alow ¢ ‘user tov view and ileract wilh postings governed by the Server Ia the conlext af «photo album application a server may govern posting and viewing of appesble pices ‘While interaction which is esublished 2nd implemented fn the above described manner i geerallysccepabe, tere 0 2 axe yvins evbechs, For example, pie to esting ‘vlna mallee ts Seed aplation cone ot almatiely, puchase iti tbe sore, Once the eplclion fas been dovnlouded or parctnseg the wer mat sty Compete ote deta, eset 0d tine con roses of eullog the pplication on he ose feel ompute,Feloving this tthe seer witbs [a foiale betwen (ele inaction, be or se must eslaish ‘Tt conection, Tue tbe ac mua lente stuble {titan wer In over to ths, be uses tpialy reguied fo isa a browse, id and "our fo a Web sie ‘which allows the sero lei ober sitable wor ad then Tolow te stepson tat she to nd tose uses. Thee eps may facude isting aiogs! software plgios or ‘ples, entering «eh room, and waitin for ose or more ‘uluble wr 16 eater the same room. Alteratvely sere ‘ay loci each ter troagh pre-arranged bulletin boards ‘or through email exchanges Once tbe war have beed Joeated, various methods eis for eetablihing a connceion ‘bawees all wr (ough «cen or dsirBuled game or comamunicadons sever, Ustorunatly, ere wal varying {Sterese ofen have «cifalt tine loetlog cach cet ‘Addtionally, many steps and sigaient smouot of tine fe required peer to commencing the acts interttion Creating comments of people with similar ines smiy sis safer rabacks aod dificle. Ie may be time Consuming nd dial a cree» community of nee ar ‘ses that perms teraction. Comomanies of itrest may beaiticallio cet, especial for neophyte computer users with tle experience in the eld. If separate software, {plese plugins we acne to access tin commun {Bay be difcal to convince prospective community mea bet to fad copy of or go tothe webs Ioealon for Gowalotding the pecessary software, dowaload the Settware, Soll sod configu 3 ad use te eovare > Semusicate wits be community. Adieu, it may be Sic to publeie be oxsenee of sch communiy ober. Fodig such s community may require fanay with « ‘computer and the Intecaet.odvioal creators of applies tas of neracve commas ay lack te eos to publicize hese ews Parle, cual istertton on the Internet may suffer ‘oom the drwbnce of teil complesity for wets to peste, Commusistion sd interaction may rue Know tage ofthe oein of bled Bours o chat Toms as well SSteowedge inal due communicatonapicaions ‘The techninl compentics and lck of koowledge my crete sgt bier for sdoption bya es To siditon fuser interaction, there are varios ober spplications which iaberely require communication eng lil nial and whic ed themes well {> cstblshing and maintaining that commusicao tough Ibe Inert ar srober exible eommunetion® network For example, commerce conducted over tbe Iter Gonetines Known a9 “Electronic Commerce” ot ‘SEreommere”), reques weer 10 loale an appopriae “online sore” nd then, within Lat Sore, Jrte 20 apo pale produ prot to purcasing Searching the eae Interna for store an then searching witha ta stove can bea daunting tak forthe enphyte or even an experienced Internet ser who has aa previously purchased product throogh ao “ondine store ore, Sang store tht the ser tts may be diel, ass user fen sstohes the Jnteret ote ovo, wot rele [Not de inerseive applications allow adinsators to publih or sibesibe [0 lofrmation and sled cisomer US 6,519,629 B2 5) ‘uactonality aplistons,pasculry information located fon asotber application, Curent methods of “cating ad ‘Posting information fom ane area to another often require tig and reformatting the information. These efforts may be time consuming abd deter users from publishing such information [SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION 15s therefore an objec ofthe invention o overcome the rawoac of the prior at 1s furber abject of the invention to provide a method and sysiom which simples processes for interaction among, {nvidinle and/or ens which occa trough & come eetons network, [Cis still fuer object of the faventon to provide a syslem Sad metbod for multuser interaction aad commu ‘lation trough & network whichis directed to a specific ‘easton, interaction andor interest. ‘tis aaolber object ofthe invention lo provide a system snd method which enables creation and discibution of Application objects which direct a tser to specific informe tion. Us anther objet of the invention to provide a system and methodology for invokiog an favitation application to ‘imply the eration of snd sllow tbe widespread snd rapid ‘stbution ofan electronic connection betveen a pura ‘of users through an on-line community associated wi & ‘ser interest. ‘These and other objects are achieved through the present fovention Which provides a sysiem and metbod for infor- sation and application distribution aod delivery. The system ‘everbad herein may be refered to asa fermion snd ‘Application Disirbutin System (LADS) and may be pref- ‘rably embodied ws commnication network which ty be ‘sed for variety of purposes. In one embodiment, tbe LADS. ‘is employed to dsirbue, initiate and alow ser interaction od commurieation within communities of users wih sia Iarinteress, An LADS ofthe present invention may employ 2 communication application lo distibut and inate inv talon aplicaons having 20 executable compooest and a ‘message component. The LADS of the present ioventon may include acces lo one or more customized communities ‘which are designed to allow users (o interac wihin ‘Community with various community applications. The deliv try methodology ofthe present invention may circumvent many of te drawbacks encountered in matohing or uses of ‘ppliestions through peor srt tecbriques. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING IG. 1is a block diagram istrative of the Information ‘nd Application Distribution System (LADS) ofthe present FIG. 2 is a fowehart iusrating steps in creating a commusiy according to an embodimeat ofthe invention. FIG. 3 isa fowehan Mustating stops in disbuting and fniitng » community according to a0 embodiment of the FIG. 4 is a graphic wser iolecace for + community cording to an embodiotent ofthe invention. TG, Sise schematic iluaration of accessing subsexiption ‘bjects sanding fo an embodiment ofthe invention, FIG. 6 is « block digram of an IADS according to 8 specific enibodiseat of the iaventon. FIG. 7 is a flowchart lusvating the major sleps in Aistivutng, inating and contliog « uliple player Py 4 computer game application in » particular embodiment of the present invention FIGS. SAI-SA4 snd 8B are flowcharts Sustating the process of game distribution vis electonie mal and sbse- ‘geal game play in a prefered embodiment of te preseat ‘vention. FIG. 9 ie a owehar Mustating the died process of ‘game play ina prefered embodiment ofthe invention IG. 10 sa Bowchar illustrating the detaled proces of viral value ticket account control according (08 prefered ‘embodiment of the invention, IG, UL is a Nowebartdtwstrating the detailed process {valved ina product purchase using he TADS io «prefered ‘embodiment of the invention, DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ‘PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS. ‘The preset inveation is described in reltoo to ditibu= ion of so invitation spplestion anda ciot application via 1 network and an emit coonetion. Nonetheless the bar acteristics and parameters peraining to this disubution are qualy applicable to otber types of disarbuions. For purposes of explaining the present invention, a spe- cife embodiment will be described. This embodiment is txamplary only, end i not intended to Kit the scope ofthe faveniion. A crestor azcesses a eenteal cootoler over a network oetete 3 community using a community creating ‘module. in his example, the Ue ofthe community Ss "The Wiliams Henry Harnson Historical Preseevation Society" The community creating module permits the crestor 10 eat» communis, and designate applications 20d content resected inthe community by a usr interface, The appli- fation in the present example foclude « chat application (objet fr users o interact wi cach other fa cha format, 2 Schedule application abject fr scheduling appolammens for the events pledge application object for pledging a donation, & photo album application object for viewing photos eines to Wiliam Heory Harrison, and ober appl futon objec. Content in the preseat example inches {nformation about upcomiag fund raising events and mec fogs for the society, information about carent funds collected, biograpbictl information sbowt Wiliam Henry iarison, nd ter information. Different spplications msy provide diferet levels of interaction between a user, be? ‘ses, and the cesta conrollsr module. ‘Upon creating the community, tbe creator designates other users to access the community. ‘The application fccests the reaor's locally stored communication address book, sich as email address book, or relives a centrally stored communiestion address book from the cent] ‘controler, end presens the contents to the creator, The ‘retorselocs the eames and e-mail addresses ofthe indi ‘iduas tobe fovited to access the community. The cesta contoler sends a ransmisson, such as an ena to the fnvile sere bated on the information provided by the creator. The tansmission includes « message component Sod an exectlable component. The message compomeal describes the communily, invites the ser to join the community, and provides instructions. Jn the present txample, the message component greets the user, informs ‘he urer tba the community is named “The Wile Henry inion Histories! Preservation Sociay," deseribes the community, and invites the user to jin. ‘Upon receipt of the tsnsmission, 2 user executes the ‘execulabe component according to he instructs, sbch as jor known mannor, © dovble clicking on an appropise US 6,519,629 B2 5 jon in a Windows™ envirooment ot otber mansar of necting the executes component. A login dialog ezeza {opened forthe use. A wer provides repstraion informa tion Ge fll are, addces, persona information, ete) 08 forwards the inforsaton fo the central conioli. Te logo display screen provides the user with a wseti, abd prompts the usr lo soppy «pasword. At his point te program may bray not download adetonal content objec spplietiog objects, and cient sofware composeats io allow tbe wer tO Interface with the Heary Harison Historical Preservation Society from outside the browser eovionneat ‘Using the use interface, the user can interact withthe communily tough the ceatal controller, olber WES, OF both, at appropriate times, Upon entering 2 community, 2 ser may sovess onlent object, sueb. as subscription ‘objens sppliestion objects, or tbe content, which frm the ‘omamanty. A vser alomaticaly reseves content objects thot are updated. Interaction ineludes using the various applieation objec downloaded to the sey such 28 iter- feting wih aoouber user i the chat area, Where applicable the ceatral controller module coocdiates use of an spi tion abject between a plurality of users. IG. 1 iuetates en LADS 100 secording to an eabodi- ‘ment of th prevent iaveatin. LADS 100 comprises multiple ‘were 110 conoecied to Netwoek 180 through multiple Coo nestor Providers (CPs) 105. Network 180 may be any Detwkthu pecs meliple uses lo connect and ineract ‘According o an embociment ofthe invention, Network 150 tay be # dedicated line to connect users, the Internet, an fntranet, or aber type of network. CP 108 ay bea provider that connects wer to 3 network According to an exibod ‘meot af the invention, CP 105, may be an Interact service provider, aGi-up accessor otbe annex of connecting 10 ‘oetwore la actual practice there maybe sigaieanly more ‘worsconsected to TADS 100 thn show, This would mena {at ere would be adaltioal users which are connected {rough the same CPs sbowo or Uough other CPs, [Neverteles, for purposes of lustation, the dscasion wil presume four uzers 110 connected to Network 150 through fovo Cos 105, “According 'o an embodiment ofthe iovenio,eliets 10 say te wer with any compuling device capable of access ing Netwodk 150 trough CP 105. Altereaiel, some or all af wsers 110 spay acozss Network 130 through 2 direct connection. FIG. 1 shows two computers 110s snd 1106 tach baving a connection lo Network 180 though ap CP 3052 and 10sb, Computers 1102 ané 1105 mye petsonsl compaters such as thee located in 8 users howe, of may be ‘ther devices whic allow a user lo secess spd interact With tethers on Network 180. According oan exbodiment ofthe Savention, both computers 110 may be connected Io Net ‘work 150 tirovgh the same CP 10S. Cental contol ‘module 15 mey azo have a eoaneation to Network 150 35 Aeecaibed above, Central collier module 15 my com: ‘niente vith one or more ta storage modules 160, the Titer being discussed in more det below. ‘According 10 an embodiment of the inventing, each ‘computer 110 may be congue asa typical bome based ‘computer, Other configurations may eso be used. Each computer 110 may contain » communication application tactile 185, «processor modsle 160 nd a memory module 170. Communication applicason modules 1850 and 1580 need not be the same specie sftvare so long as comm ication between them is according fo standard protools so that messages seat sed received can be recognized. Com- runieaton application module 188 may comprise en e-mail fplication such a¢ Microsof Beyond Mail™, Netscape 6 Mail™, Budora Pro, or te ike, and aust also comprise an pplication which ean esublish &persten! connection fo aetwork 180, Computer 110 may fave a least oe ioput Aevice 120 for contlling te computer T10. Input device 120 may be a keyboard, joystick, touchpad, scanner oF any Simnilar device or combigaton of devices. Eseh of computers 110 may aso include 2 display module 140, suchas 4 CRT ‘iplay of other device Additonaly, cients 110 may eoD- {ain ces! application module 125, where client applications comprise content, subscription objects use interface, ap ‘ation objects, and ater contet, which wil be deseribed in freaer dei below. TADS 100 further includes central controler module 115 (Central controller module 1S may mvinain s connection 10 [Network 180, Preferably, a coonection maybe high speed, large bandwidth connection, such a5 a TL or T3 tine, altiough other connections muy also be employed. Ceara controller module 115 may fasction to permit eieois 110 0 fteract with each othe: it connection with various applications, messaging services and olber services which ‘may be provided thravgh JADS 200, ‘Cental controler module 115 may preferably comprise either a siogle server compuer ot muliple server computers onfgured to appear to client 110 a5 single resource Cental cootrller module 115 cay communicate wilh + number of dala stonge modules 160. Particular siomge ‘modules 160 are described in further detal below. Various databases may be avalable laa data storage module 16035. necesstry depending upon the specie applications aod fervices made availabe trough LADS 100. fa practice, dala in a sionge modules 160 may be merged into a sige database of into groups of databases as determined by a ‘sysiem admiaisuator. Accordag to an embodiment of the faveation, daa storage modules 160 may be located ox one ‘or more data storage devies, where the daa storage devices fe combined or separate fom cent cootoller module 11S. Physically, the databases may or may not be co-located ‘on the sume storage device ‘Communication module 160 may enable ceteal contol- Jecmodle U5 to communicate with oers According to a5 ‘cabodineat of te invention, communication medule 180 tay comprise an email trnsfer application veh a8 ‘Senden, Posifx, or Q-Mail or the like. Commieston module 180 rosy further ensble centsl controller module {IS to interac lb users via user application objecs, such 4s instant messaging. Further, communications medule 180 ‘may enable ceoval onuller module 15 to interact witb an Ternetbroweer, such a8 Newsespe Navigator™, Microeat Internet Exploret™, or the Uke ‘Aa willbe discussed in more detail below, dla storage module 160 may include es aseocited with vous spp Salons which afesecessed by user stationed a clients 0. ‘Applications may include computer games, shoppiag carl pplication forthe purchase of goods andlor sevies, work ioup spplictions’ sich se word procesing, databace, Accounting, inventory and graphic programs, and other pplication objects. Many of which wil be described in sie detail beiow. Other applications may also be stored. The date storage module 160 may als iaclde an em Gatsbase module, which may comsia sings of emul ‘rests tbat ae leated,Sodexed and stored as Jescbed below As wil be dscusted io more dell below, sceoeding 1p an embodiment of the invention, various communities, lists, subscription objects, executable componenis and ther leme may be sored in Yala slorage module 100. Dalz Elorage module 160 may incuce an information dalabase ‘module which may contain a variety of ferent Iypes of US 6,519,629 B2 7 information, Cental contolier module 115 may record various user information in daa storage module 160, such as ‘vba communities user isa member is subseribed io, wht fnvtetion «ser bis received, what ioviatons a eer Bae accepted, and olber user information, Ceotal convoller Imodile 118 may record commuaily information in data Storage module 160, sich as community memberships, Statistics about community populssity and other community {formation Otber information may tso be stored. Geom controller module may be connected to lik pplication module 130, commonly creating module 168, ‘4 lavitation module 178. According to an embodimeat of {he invention, link application mocule 130 may asi» user Sn seting Links within a commonity. The fsneone of link ppliestion module 130 wil be deserved below i greater ai. According fo an ewbodiment of the iveation,eom- ‘muniy cresting module 168 may asst «usr ia creating & ‘commuity. Te fenctions of community erating module 16S wil be deserbed below in greater deta. According 12 ‘a embodiineat of te invention, ivitaion medule 175 may tsi x user in ivig oer wer o jin a community. The {inctions of invilation module 175 wil be described below fn eater deta (Creating 2 Community FIG. 2 isa fow-char which dlutates creating s com smuniy according to an embodiment of the invention. A. ‘reating use, oF creator, sats creating a comunity a step 200. At step 202, crestor provides community identifica ‘on information, 20d community deatbeaton information fs sreened to detemlae ithe information is vali at sep 204. If community idenifiation information isnot valid, ¢ ‘rear is informed a step 206, and is returned to sep 202. If community idectiaton information is valid, a creator ‘sets category alsep 208. Asep 210, a creator determines {he look snd feel of community, and decides whether to ssdvanced look and feel at sep 212. If yes, a creator sets Sword fool step 214 and sets tex fore snsounoe= ‘eats screen at sep 216. I eeator decides net to select, fdvanced look and feel, the creator ses text for an Sooauacements seen at Sep 216. At sep 218, 2 creslor Getermines whather to have & link in an snpoupcements fsereen Ifyos, creator se link application module to sat text for an announcements seen a! sep 220, and may set link destination al step 222. Upon sting a ck destination, fr i exesior elects got fost link, a crestor ei up ‘mailing Us at sep 224. At sep 226, user seis « privacy Jevel for coment. Austr invites oters to a comenuaity st sep 228, apd lunebes a community sl step 230. The ‘method of FIG. 2 will now be described in more det. ‘A crestor acessses community creating module 165 ‘through cel conwoller module 115 st step 200. Accord- ing 0 an embodiment of the invention, community erating ‘module 165 may provide the framework through which ‘envi conoller module 15 jnterets with & uses to create 2 comunity, and related applications aod functions. According to aolber embodiment of the invention, cou rpunily creation may compsse a web-based eration” Otber ‘configurations may also be wed ‘Atsiep 202, a creator provides community dentificaion foformaton to central eonrlle module 15. Community ‘denifcaion information may comprise a community name, description search tgs, keywords, aod topline key. By way of example, a erator may name 2 community and provide 5 briet ceeription, sich ae onming the community the “owas Sailing Chb” ard may describe the community as 8 1 group of sailor inthe grater Omaha, Neb. ares who Bave ap interest in suing and following sating evens. A creator ‘may further desigeste appropiate keyword(), relates), search tng(), and for ole classications for 2 community, such as, "Omabasaliog” 25 a keyword, and “Omak "sailing “Nebresay" "boats" "yachi" and "waer” 25 search tgs. Community Sdeatiheation information may fae ther comprit information about the creat, such as aame, addres, personal information, and otber ctatr inform tion: Community ideatication information may tlko com- ‘rise computer information, sich as an elecuonicidectiber (Gg. cookie, computeridetifcetion number. te) and oer fermion about the compuse. Other community dent tation information may also be requesed ‘According to an embodiment ofthe invention, «crestor may input the requested information trough input device 120, Information tay be sutomatiealy provided to cen ‘ontoller module 115 trough the connection of user 110, ‘with central contol module 115, such as the computer ‘deotier mber Other methods fr providing iaformstion to central conoliex module 115 may also be used sich a5 fnputtng formation ito 4 telephone keypad or personal digital assistant. ‘At step 204, central controller screens commusity iden ‘ican information o determine if vali, I coma nity ientifestion information is alresdy in wee, euch 38 & ‘community mame already in use, a creator may be informed ofthis even st step 206, sod may be turned to step 202 10 provide diflereat community idestibcatiog iafornstion ‘According to an enbodiment ofthe foveatio, a eestor may be required to acknowledge the we of the ‘community ‘etifcation information by apotber, suchas by requiring the creator to click on adiiog box to continue to step 202 ‘Hf eommusity information is valid erator may desig- ‘ates community eaegory atep 208. The ene gory may be within hecarcy of ealegoie, where the crestor is pre= sented with varios categorie and subeatogesis wth which to associate the commuiy. By way of example, a hiearchy ‘may contain various esiegories, such as “Aris & “Humanies," “Education,” “Governinen,” “Recreation & Sports” or "Science," and sabcategories. or tbe category "Recreaton & Sponsor example, vazious evbeategorise ‘may include "College Footbll" "Profesione! Basketball,” tnd “World Cup Soccer.” Under the category of “Bduealion,” for example, various subcategories may inchde “Engineering,” "High School” aod "Elementary Bdveation."Subeatepoces may be further divided ino ober subealegories, Oiber categories and subeategores may be ‘sed to identify a coramunity. According fo an embodiment Of the laveaton, 2 creator may categorize « community “under more than one calepory or subsalegery. By way of sxample, a community ented “Omaha Suing Chub" may be categorized under a "Recreation & Sports” calegory. Other methods of extegriation may also be used ‘Addition at slep 208, a creator may designate com munity elds. Community Belés may comprise aealegory or ategores of intrest, language, lection, age group, and relstags of interest asvociled wih the commun, snd ‘may overlap with other community idetifcatio informa tion. According to an embodiment of ie invetio, com ‘munity fields ay designate English asthe Isnguage ofthe ommuniy, slings the elegory of ialerest, sd Omaha, [Nebr a tbe location forthe community, Communily Seles ‘wll be cescbed in more detail below [AL sep 210, + configuration edilor i presented tos cretion A configaraion eter may allow a user to build + US 6,519, 9 community, desgoale content and application objects, sub Seribe to sibsepion objects, and add oer information sstociated withthe community ‘According to an embodiment of the invention, fnformation, applications, functions aad otberaspess of © 5 community may be geacraly cousidered contest objects, ‘bere contest objects may comprise potions of «commu. Sly whic a ser may access. Coote objects may further comprise application objects, subscription objects, or olber ‘content of commusity. Other types of contest objec may 20 also be used. Application objects and subsription objects willbe desrbed in greater detail below. “According to an embodiment af the invention, a conigu- ration ediar may present visioussandard commualy tm plates and application objects (or “functions” to bul = * Community, thd various optious or cusemiations for a restart crete a communi According to a embodiment ofthe invention standard templates may comprise amples for angling finctous and content. Standard application cobjente may comprise «chat application object, « shopping feat application object, an instant messtge” application ‘object, 4 navigation application object, a search application ‘bjes, an adaress application objec, 2 news group appli ‘ation abject, o other aplication abject, Standard spp ‘ation objets may be available to all users. Achat zppli- ‘ation objet may comprises seolling chal window, where ‘users may ilerac by ping messages lo each ober Accord ing o another embodiment of the invention, limited standard application objets maybe available to certain user. Limited ‘Handa spplicati objects may comprise a creation zppi- tation objec, a exit appliestion object, am ivitationappli- tation object, or eter apliation objects. Am exit pple tion may allow 2 user fo ext 8 communi. An iaviation pplication object may allow a user o invite ihe, such 28 fn the mana set forth in FIG. 3. According loan embodiment of te iaventon, 2 comma ay may Bove an slecroni lore asccited Wil the com ‘mublly.Acrelor nay “stock” the electronic store wih tens Of fnleres fo users ofthe community, such as subscabing 1 4p Yendor subscripion abject A shopping att apalication ‘object nay permit a user to elect tems fom the elecuonic ‘tore fo parcbaeeilherimmedinely of star ine. Other ‘ppliaton objects may also be used. Options may include modifying standard applications, 45 esignsting optional applications, creatiag vaique applications, creating specibe content, organizing the pre- Stott of « community user interfce, designating who ‘cn aceess the community, abd designating whois iially ‘seal the community, incuding the message componest and so ‘executable component. Other options may also be present by {configuration editor According Io an embodiment ofthe Joveation, community ceatigg module 165 may eoable 2 creaior i reals desired unigue application. According to an exbodiient of the invention, «unique application ce~ 2p Sed by a eteslor may be saved on community ceating ‘modile 165 and maybe Inter preseated to another creator a8 ‘st options application. A unique application maybe altered before being presented as x0 options] applicalion or may be presented a5 crealed. According o alber embodiment oF op ‘he invention, eppliction objects may be created indepen enlly BY a user, of by 2 thd purty. Oher methods for ‘reating + unigue applcaion may slso be used. Various functions willbe described in greater detail below. ‘Accotding (o 40 embodiment ofthe invention, a creator 4s may subscribe wo svalablesubsecition objects. Subserp- fon objects may be various objet sc 36 chal content, = 629 B2 10 product to purchase, a photograph Mle or othe itm, which {has bees plished by another user. Pubtshing « subserp- tion object enable others t subscribe tothe subecinton ‘object. The stbscigtion abject may be accetedlarouph 3 ‘community and an application abject By way of example, 2 ieansript of 4 cbt Sesion ip a comunity mlted 10 politics may be published by an admiisrater of « commu hil. A crestor (or admiisirato) of a second community related 1 polis may subscribe 10 the subsription objet corresponding tothe cht session, thereby enabling the uses (of second comunity to access the conteais of the chat session. Other manners for subscribing may also be used "At step 212, 2 creior determines whether 10 modily + ‘community lo achieve an sdvanced look and fee Ife crestor desires an advanced look and feel, 4 creator may be pre- {sented with various options to modify a commity lok ae) fel at sep 214, Options may inchde modifying various fonts, sizes and colors of various content (eile, ex, aders, ic), modifying beckprounds, such as difereat colors or designs, designating atiibutes of ahs sod batons, {pd other selections whic determine the “look and fel” of the community. According 10 an embodiment of the {nventio, a creator may be presented with pall down menus fo select various options. Acreator mey also import options, such as artwork, pictures, video, aud, of oer Ales 10 tmodity's community. By way of example, a creator of a Community entitled "Omabs Sailing Cub" may be preseated ‘with wo pulldown menus providing options forte ie. A ‘relor may select “Hook Antigua” asthe font, sad 14 pelt Sethe sen. Further,» creator mey upload a picmre of sail boat to serve as background forthe community snd my ‘ploud an aio feof se pul and waves o be bes when ‘user fit accesses the community. Other modibeatons may alo be made, (Once a eestor bas et the advanced “Took and fea!” or if s creator elects not to eet the advanced "look aod fel” ¢ ‘reson may st text for an announcements screen step 246, According to an embodiment ofthe invention, «com ‘muuily may hive an annouacemenissereen which provides ‘tn intoducton o the community, and may be aocessed by {user selecting tbe angoancemeats tb. A.cestr may select “ha te wil be displayed on tbe anouncements sree 8 ‘yell s¢ the text covtent on the sonouncements sexeen {socistad with an announcements lab. Text may Sochde freting, community news, announcements or othe inf ‘ation associated withthe community. Azcoeding 1 a0 embodiment of te aventon, an apouncemens seen may beth iret display a user views when enering s comma. By way of example, the creator of the community etiled “Omaha Sailing Club” may designate that text on the sonouncements screen introduce a var fo the community id provide a brief explanation sboxt various functions snd Content of the commurity.Otber mancers of seltng lex on fm angouacemens sreen say also be used, "AL sep 218, «creator determines weetber to place «link 1p another community ian announcements sowen. If ‘relor elects to place one or more ks inthe snpounce meals screen, a ercator may be prescoted with fink eppl- ation module 130, end may ct txt frank or inks at step 220, Setting txt for ink may compise a crear entering ‘ext o deserbe the link Al step 222, tbe erator may sl the link destination, By way of example, nother community say beenliled "America's Cup™ Walch” and may foruson ‘erfous milestones snd eveois leading upto snd occurring in the America's Cup™ sang ices, Acrealor nay provi linkin te anpouncemenis even to this commu, td et text forthe link, such a5 "America’s Cup™" Si US 6,519,629 B2 ere Events” A usr may theo asivte the lnk and be taken to the "Ameriaa's Cup™ Watco” communi. Other manaets of providing links iy also be used. For example, a com Ibi scministrator may Wis 0 orgiste «ink to tober ‘ommmily in svotbe srcea, suc asthe sxeenislaying the et application object, instead of ergiating the link is the annouacemenis screen. A commicity adminislory may sis fo place links diecly to s subscription ebject ‘vita soother community. A community sdministratoe may Getemice tat another community bas a pasticularly active chatroom thet may be of iterest. The edmicisiator may create a link areely to that cht room, rather thin tbe fouance of tbe community, Finally, an administrator may flso wish 1b create links originating from or pointing towards World Wide Web pages, or may incorporate some oF tll of a World Wide Web page directly into the commosiy ‘pplication ‘Once a creator has et inks inthe announcements sereen, cor lected noosa links, a cestor may setup one of more talig ise a sep 224. According 0 sn embodizgent of be vention, « community may have one or more groups sSocisted with the community. Groupe may comprise ofcers, people within «certain geographic locaton or ciber fypes of groups. Mailing lists may enable s user (send a sarge to ces users io + commusily. By way of ‘xample the crestor ofthe “Omaba Suing Chub” comma fly may create a mailinglist for club officers, a mailing ist, foe members of diferent marinas, » maliog list for uses ‘with an interest in catamarans, and mailing ist for uses ‘with an interest in single ul sil boats. Ober types of rmaling Hiss may alco be wed ‘A step 226, a creator designates the privacy Ievel of ‘community. According to an embodiment ofthe iaveation, # privacy level may Sadicate what uses may acces the community. Various privacy levels may deierine what ‘secs may access a community. Some privacy levels may requ a specie invtalion, uch as fom a desigated user {(@2, sdmnistaio#) or» member of the commuaity. Other povicy levels may allow users to apply without 22 {avitton, where a speciied usr approves the membership. ‘Abolher level of privacy may allow any user to join ‘According to an embodiment ofthe iventien, privacy ivels may doiernine wheter 2 community i Isted within & Hierarchy of communities, and whether the eootent of he communities ave published, Communities il high privacy fevels may oot be listed within birarchy or 8 user Interdae, wile communities with lower privacy eve be listed’ By way of example, the creator of the "Omaha Sailing CO” comamuniy tay select a pivacy level that allows sny user lo enter the community without 0 invitation, but requires a community admiaisrtor to approve the membership witha te community. Ober man- tere of determining petvacy fora community may eso be sea. ‘When designating privacy levels, a creator may designate specific users to perform esta fubtionswilin a comm ‘iy. A crestor tay delegate funetons to otber uses (or “sdministalors) and/or may empower other users 10 per form functions, Such functions may inchide inviting individual, stockings community ior, approving ap ind ‘vidual to jon a comunity, punishing users for ingporopri- 2p conduct ina community, monitoring functions 0 ensure compliance with community landers, polishing or sub- Seeing to subseription objens, or othe funetions related to community ‘According loan example, a community led “The XYZ. Softball Team” may be created, where information about the n ‘XYZ Softbal team, including + schedule of games, player ‘Stustcs, and other information, is presented. A eteaior may Getermine tht only members of the XYZ. sofball tem Should be able fo acces tbe communiy. A crentor may provide t cereal cootoller modile LIS + lit of tex IBeber, aloag with appropiate information. Central con: troller module 115 msy compare ioforaution provided ‘user to tbe information provided by a creator, thereby overniag acess (othe community, “According to an embodiment of te iaveation, a creator smay designate caran users to allow ethers to acces the ‘community, According othe example of community tied “The XYZ Softball Tear,” there say be a coach and two assistant coaches forthe leam. The coach ofthe team may tveste he community nd designate that exc am mex ber may be able to access tbe community. Farber, the creator may designate thatthe two assistant coaches may low ober neers fo socess the community, According fo 80 tmbodimeat of the invention, users designed (0 allow bet, noodesignted users 19 acexss a community may receive een aplication with “tag” encoded within, The ‘ag may fnicas the chan af communications, eg, how the Cliot aplication was sent from one user to aatber Aszord- ing to an exbodinent of the invention, user may ot join 2 Community ules that user received he lent application Eom a user designated to allow other users to acces the community. Thus, according to the example of the “The XEVZ, Softball Teans” community, assistant managers may receive client application with a tag, Any wer who receives an invitation directly from ons of the assistant ‘managers may acess the community. Ifthe client applies fon is pot received direcdly from one of the assistant managers, 2 user may be prohibited fom sccessing the community. Accordiag to soother embodiment of the invention, cera conkoller module 115 may mainaio ‘cords regarding what users may vite cer users ito 2 Community Members ofthe "YZ Sofbal Team” comau- sul olber than the cosch or assistant managers would 201 be thle to invile other users lo become communi members. Other methodologies for designating who ean secese & ‘cormmunity may aso be used “According to a0 embodiment of the inveatin, a creator say determine whelber wsers ean soteract within» commas Diy in Lola tnonyany, fo various stages of anonyenly, oF ‘yout any anonymity A ser may provide certain infor Imation to allow for identifeaton. A wer may ener 9 user ume for a community, and may erate «prote, where tbe profile comprises information about the user hat may be Accessed by otber uses. Usere may elect aot to provige terisa information in a profile. By way of example, & freslor may insicae tht all members af « communy must Giclee the user's actual same and address ia » profi Other manners of detemmining user privacy may also be ued. ‘AL step 228, a creator may invite people to join a community. According to an embodiment ofthe iaventon, S cresor may generale an ivitation message to her users, inviting them fo join the community. A eealor may further provide a communications adéress, sich as am e-mail dacs, to allow ao invitation and a executable application {launch the community to be sent 0 ene of mote uses. ‘Acoorting to an embodiment of the Savention, the comm nity client plication operating onthe erestr’s comp rosy acces the ereatore locally stored communications tress book (eg, email addees book, or the cereal ontoler module 115 may ascess the creator's eentaly Stored address book. A list of communications address US 6,519,629 B2 2B sy be prevented tothe crestor, thereby enabling the creator fo elec wer to invite without being required to put exch communications address for each user Otber manoets of {Dviting users may alto be used. A step 230, s crestor say Jauach » community, Otber manners of creating eoxmni= Wes may also be use. Inviting Other Users FIG. 3isa dow-char whichillustetes inviting ober users to participate is endfor join » community acceding to an ‘embodiment of he iavestion. Al sep 250, a user actives a5 {avile funtion At sep 252, user's communication adress book is accesed and a Ist of communication addresses is presented. A user selects communication adéesses and rates a persona ication addresses aed personal invations to cetral con troller module 15 a siep 286. At step 287, be coatects and ‘coafigvation of an invitation applieaton sre devenaized, Sad at sep 288, cena contoller module 15 erates an {avitation application, At sep 260, cena controller module 11S sends 0 invitation application to the communication [ddrsees Aa invited wer receives the ivitationepplicton 4nd launches ital sep 262. The executuble componcat prompts a invited user fo provide acceplaee information at Step 264, At sep 266, the acceptance information i eat fo eat controler module 15. Central controler mode 1S Spproves the accepiance and transits 2 community ceat application at step 268, and launches tbe commanity ent pplication at step 270. The method of IG. 3 will tow be tected ia more det. ‘A user may access invitation appiction module 178 tough central contoller module 118 at step 250. Accord- {ng oan embodiment of the avention, invitation sppiation ‘module 175 may provide the framework thoygh which rate contoller module 115 foterace i a wert ave fer users to join andor interac witb a community, aod Telated eppicaiions and functions. Accocdag to ao eabod- teal ofthe invention, as deserved fo FIG. 4,4 wer may access invilaion application module 17S by acivatisg invite fonction button 3038 located on graphic ser interface 300 ‘An example of an embodiment of graphic user iteface 300, fs desorbed in grester deta below: Other coofigartions may also be used ‘Atsep 252, «user's communication aes book (6. smail address book, IRC chat dere book, ele) is fscccised, such a5 through a client application using client 110. A cleo! appliation may preseat Us of communica: tion addresses to user, by rerieving communications dresses located within a users communiation addeess book. user may select communication addreses from the list presented, thereby enabling the wsero selec other users to vite without being required to input a communications seas for each weer ‘According to an embodiment of the inventio, «user nny desire to invite a individual who is got ia 4 gers conte ‘munication address book. A cleat aplication may presenta ‘ier with the option to manvally input a communication adress such a, for example ony, presentag dishog box for a uset to enler an e-mail address. Other manners of selecting communication eddresee may aleo be ued ‘A-usee may generile + personal invilation as commni- cation acdreset are selected. According lo to embocinen ofthe invention, a user may generate a difereot personal ‘message foreach communictlionadaree. An iniviouzed pertonal message may address the invited wer by nime, Bich as referencing an ioviled wer by name, describing “aviation at step 254, an sends comans- » 14 specs of te community of specific interest to an invited user, and other personalized comments According 12 an embodiment of the invention, « user may generste one [eneral pesonalized mestage to be seat to all selected Commusiation addresses, where the one geaerl person zed message is sett all invited users, but i crested bythe ser inviing the others Such a general message my Aeseribe various aspects of a community, including general portions of interest to the iavited users. Otber manners of {eserating pesca fvitalons may alo be Used, ‘At step 256, a user sends one or more selected commu- nication addresses apd personal invitation 1 cenbal eon teoller module 15 trough commauniction address mode 1135. Communication addresses and persona! nvitations may be sot fo ceateal controller through aay known manaec BY sway of eximpe only, comincation adcrsies ad per Sonal invitation may be thorough a comminieations pplication, sich ae an emtil tanemission, an “ineant smessage” transmission, or other manner of transmission, Otter mangers of sending may also be used. Ai step 257 central controller module 15 may determine ‘what an iovited user needs to join a communty. Cental Contrllr module 115 may determine what an invited user ‘eds based the invited use bas previously egistered with toother community, Cental contller module 11S may eek recores, such 35 records located on dala storage ‘modules 160. AL sep 258, ceatal contoller module 11S creates an Invitation application. According 10 an embodiaent af the lavention, message component may comprise + psoas] ‘invitation snd an insrvetion invitation. Central controller tmodiule 115 may rete an instruction invitation t combine ‘wit a personal ivilation provided by a user. Am iastuction Invitation may provide instructions oan ovited ust rege {ng how to exvcute an executable component, how to {interact within 2 community, what bebavier is accepable ‘thio the comunity, where to find help to iteract wa tbe ‘community, and oer instructions tbat may be of we to an faviled use. Central controller module 118 may combine 4 etsona invitation, such asa personal aviation provided by 2 user, with aa snsteocden iavitaton to form > message ‘omponeot. Other msnoers of generating 3 mestage com- pPoneatrty also be used, ‘According 10 an embodiment of the iaveoton, if sa sted user has not rgisered previously, ental contclle ‘module 115 may combine an execulsbe component wilb& ‘message component. An executable component may be fesident oo ceatal cootroller module 15, such at for trample, self-exructable zip archive. An execuible com ‘ponent may provide assistance in repistering suse 10 join 8 Comunity tod for downloading spproprale iaformstion oeded to acess 2 community. Breculable compooents vil be described ia more deal below, An excoslable component may be combined dredly with « message component, of ay be mies for sp invited ser before beiog combined ‘ri 2 mesage component. According io an embodimeat of the invention, central controller module 115 may generate « ew execulabe component to combize with esch message Componedt, such a ifs unique message component is beg ‘Stal An executable component may be personalized for an failed use, such as personalized based onthe commuaily to be invited to, pesonal preferences,» or otber caracat- Ince, Olter manners for using exeelable components #02 Creating an invitation applicaion may aso be tse. Further, an executable componeat may consi all app cations necessary Io view and intel in a communi US 6,519,629 B2 15 “These applications wil be dered in greater dei below. ‘Aa exouilable componeal may assist an jailed user {eeepting snd repistring fort commusity and obaining te proper information andor files to acess and interact Wath & ‘Community, When a9 execuable component is Iauached, it ‘may read ¢ user's ieatfcalion aumber, such as fom the fete of the ip archive, and may connect Io the server (9 Begin setup and cowaload of « lie! application for a community A user ID way be wsed (0 feireve a user's ‘communication address of of ctl controller module 11S, Ss well es rebleve otber userepecfc information, such as ‘which community & user bas been invited ito “According loan embodiment of te invention, an invited ser may aleady be registered with other comaucity and Ihave previously received an executable component Cental controller module ILS may geueate amessage componeat, {Ss st forth above, forthe new community to which the favitedueete i to be avid. Central controller module 11S smiy also generale ap aceptance component to combine ‘wilh a message component to form an aviation application. ‘Aa acceptance coraponent my prompt an invited user to fccept am invitation sd provide frther information. By way ‘of example aly, an sovetanee component may prompt & ‘ser to soept a inviton, provide a user identication for tbe community and provide «password for the community. (Other manner of providing Secepance components may leo be weed. ‘AL step 260, central controller module 115 sends an ‘aviation application to ap invited user. According 10 a3 ‘mbodiment of tbe invention an invitation application com prize 9 peronal vation, an fstruction ipvttion, aad aa Executable component. According to ssother embediseat of {be invention, aa invitation appisaton comprises a message ‘componeat and am acceplanee component. An inviaion {pplication may be sentio an invited weer vino tansmission ‘Hing a2 appropiate communication address, such a5 a8 ‘email sddeese. Other masoers of tansziiog ap invitation Application may also bo wed “At ste 262, on invited user roeives an invitation api- ction and Imebes an executable component of the nvi- {ation spplicstion. According to an embodiment of tbe vention, an invited ser my receive 40 aviation appl- ition and may acoess a mecsage component of the Sxvila- ‘ion application. A user may launch an executable compo- rent according to Koown luneting methods (eg., double leking on ap executable icon, ete). According 1 ap ‘mbotineo of the fnvention, an vile user ray leuoch an Acceptance component ofthe invitation spplication. Other ‘manners for receiving ond Insnching so exeoutobe compo. ent may aso be vsed [AL step 264, exceuable component prompls ¢ user to provide tecepltace information. Am execuable component Inay presente usr witha login dialog onscreen. According {oan embodiment of te invention, # Galog design may De simple with a miaimum of flés to avord confusing 22 vied wer Ase tay be even the option to cbange user rime and default email (lor example, the adres that the ‘necutabe component was en!) Auscr my be promped 19 provide oer use: iofermation, se wel ss enter «password nd confirm it, Accordiag to aa embodiment of the Invention, am aceplance component may prompl a user to provide appropiate acceptance formation. According 12 fn embodiment of te invention, a user may peess «button to cancel so asa fhe were not inlined to covnload & client application fore community. Ceatral controller mod- ‘le IS may record invied users who declined ep invitation to'8 commuity, such as xecording in das storage module 16 160, Records may include the name and e-mail address of a3 Invited user and Who ‘niated the invitation, Accortingo sa embodies! of the invention,» user ty designate user Selds while registering. User Seles may comprise + user's selection af langage, + extegory oF ‘atogories of interest, ge group, location, and otber items 0 Gesigate interests of te det According to an embodiment ofthe invention, user clés may correspond to communly elds, Community fields will be discassed in greater detail ‘below. Other information may also be recorded, ‘An exteaable component forwards registration informs ion fo central contllr module 115 at ep 266, According to am embodiment of te invention, regseaon iformation tay be set vis a commuaiestion applicstioe, such as mall According fo an embodiment of the vention, «3 ‘cceplaae componeat forwards acceptance information [0 ‘ental controller module ILS. Otber manners for tana. ting cegistatin infomation may also be used. At sep 268, ceninl controller module 11S approves acceptance and transmis «client application to the faved see According to an embodiment ofthe iavestion, accep- {ance may comprise recording tat 0 fvited user accepted sb avlaton lo joins community. An executable componeat ‘ay assis ental controller module 115 ia dowolonding & Cent epplicaion yan confirmation that istallationshosid proceed. According to an embodiment of the invention, @ ‘hen eplieation may be coweloeded while an invited user ‘watches s tora, When the download is compete «weet imiy hive 2 lik that bas been associated on tbe wer's ‘Compiler Atsep 270, ser may lane 3 eoxausiy, suc te ectivaing 4 Tink to Imunea a cliew application for a ‘Communi. Th Ink may desiguate information necessiry focibe saved cies to connect to cent contller rodale 115 sod nits th wer into the community. Other maazers of lstching spplicaions may slo be wed, for example he community may lnuach automatically afer he call eon teller module completes the downloud. A user may ene & community and access content objects, suchas subscription objets, appliestion objec, and other conten, which fore the community. Further, upon entering the company, see may svlomticly roarive updated conent objects 38 poropaate ‘When 2 clit application is Taunched to access a community, user may be presented with login screen, The ser may coe communlty by entering the comect password a community. Once the password is veiled, a frapbic user interface 3000, as Wiusirted in FIG. 3, is ‘splayed. Graphic weer interiace 3000 may contain ib ‘yindow 3005 wath lb itercace 3010, Tab interface 3010 Imay compeise «plurality of tbs, suchas announcements, hat, sod eommatiestions Aer may select ate from ib Snterface 3010 to aces a parealar funtion. A community tie 3015 may be displayed on graphic user interface 300, “Too! Bar 3020 may allow 2 ser to browse through the hierarchical sructue tat oanizes various communes. Graphic ser nterace 3000 my display the curtent location ‘within » iertehy, a well a5 the sobealegris below the urea‘ Tocatin is be hierarchy. Graphic use interface 3000 ‘nay also dgpay links to content nd commaniis tat ae Svalabe a other enlogories and subcategories. Links may tenable svesr to jump to another community, clepory, oF subcategory. (Community Functions Graphic user intefaco 3000 may present a user with community elated fanetions including community US 6,519,629 B2 17 fnformatin, chat, instant messaging, discussion groupe, ‘lageifede, ond mailinglist. The chat funtion allows ers to interactively parcpute in a text based discussion iavolv= fg other members of the community, Instat messaging allows a wer lo senda txt message dizcly to 4 selected ‘wer, Discussion groups allow community members to post ad rexpood fo messages relate to topics of interest tthe comunity, Clasifeds allow members ofthe community to post advertisements for products aod services they wish t0 Dorcbise o el, and thi are of interest tothe commun, ‘Mailing ist provide « convenient mecbooisc by which community members may seod ema thal reaches olber ‘members of the community. ‘Another sot of functions ae related to finding, creating spd building communities. A Create Function 3028 may low a wer lo crete new community, asset fre above Ha F1G.2. An vite Fnetion 3038 may allow auser to invite bers to join a community. A Navigntion Function 3030 tay allow a user fo browse through a hierarchical repre- feclaion of communities and content find communities they may wish (o join or community content they want 10 ‘view A Pal Puotion 3040 may allow a user to msintan a "Pals" ist of people wom they wish to have avalible for communication at all ines. A Search Function 3045 may foable a user to search for communes, vendors, products ruses. An Exit Function 30SS may enable a user to exit ‘community. A Community Sore 3050 Function may eoable {user tb purchase items. Various fugctions will sow be Gescribed in greater detail below. Pals According 1 an embodiment ofthe invention, «user may ‘Select Pal Faneton 3040, which may compdse a sollble ‘window eoolining «st f users who bave been selected 36 the user's pals. A user who davies another user into 2 ‘community may be added fo the list by detall, Other users ‘en be added 1 the pals ist by highlighting a ser within « bit room wsers st tod adding to» pls st ballon Invite Aser may select Invite Function 3035, Invite Fonction ‘3035 may allow a user fo invite peopl fom an adress book and pals Ist into community. As usrated above in FIG. 3, the cient appicaion reace «communication address book and pale stand pus the anmes ad acdreseer ito 8 Het A user elects various addesees, and may enler ¢ personalized message lo ber ead Navigation Once the user hs experienced a community, 2 user may este to se ober communities. A user ray eelect Naviga- ‘ios Function 3080, whic may offer op-ine ealegories sch 25 sports and leisure, business and commerce, as and ntersinment ad so on. Browsing within a category may ‘evel lower level sub-eiegores. According to an embosi ‘meal ofthe invention, communities may be listed within Categories, and icons acs othe names of communities will, provide an indieation ofthe eltve sizes and activity levels ‘fa community, aswell asap indiestion of how a user may join the community. Some communities wil be opea fr all ‘ser 1 join. Other communities may be open oo various Jevels of exclusivity, as etablished when # community Is create, and therefore may nol sppear ona navigation meow. ‘Asser mary tee Navigation Punetion 3080 (0 go to + Aesired community. Appropriate contol objecis fora given ‘community may be dowsiosded and launched, puting tne 18 ‘ser inthe commanity. A wer may be faced wit te eae {oteface es when the origins community wae nuscked Annoucements ‘Aver may select an announcements sereen, which may bbe 2 basic welcome mechanism to 4 comminily, where messages elevant to the community at lrge may be posed. ‘Aa anoouncemects tab may have lisks embedded into displayed messages, whee links point io olbercommuaites, reste Ase may select a create tab that enables cretion of community. A user may select Create Function 3025, sch 36 ‘hat set forth ia FIG. 2 above may allow a wer lo create and designs community, selec application objec and eubecrp- tion cbjct avaiable in a community and desigeste oer features of « communi cant ‘A.user may select chat i from tb interface 3010 of, graphic wer nterface 3000. According an embodiment of ‘he invention, «user may be presented with alist of users ‘who are curetly inthe room, along with the lex window {or the chal iself and a text-enry space. Attached 1 the text-eauy space may be a seod chat button Ia addition, buttons for various fanctons may shovr et information, send a message to someone io the room, igoore 3 person {Glock receipt of the onries i the ebstoom),aé a person 1a the user's pals Tis invite another user to « diferent ‘ommuniy fa the users membership ist, and invite users in the room ito a pivate chat session. Other manoers of chat ‘may als be used staat Message ‘A weer may azo select an instant message tab from tb fnierface 3010, where 2 user may send a Message tats immediately tanimited to just the selected recipient ‘Acoorting fo a0 embodiment ofthe inveaton, x window ie Gisplayed containing a dropdown list containing the ame of {he selected recipient (guchas from chatroom wer Ist oF {Pale ist), anda aren forthe usar to ener nthe ex of the message. The user can overiype the name of the recipient to ‘stad the message o, exo drop down the list o sleet from 2 lis of recipients to whom they have recenly seat instant ‘messages. A od bution may also be provided tt allows a ‘ser to search for veipiats ‘According lo tn embodiment of the vention, if the recipial x aot curetly online, tbe instant message wil be - tion object my deeignte thet only communisee devoted fo elated subject matter may subscribe to. subscription ‘bjes, tal subsrfber must pay to access subscription objes, or other designations that limit subserbing 10 & Svbsetption objec. Other menoere of roving informatic ‘hou subsription objects may also be used. By way of one example, a producer or seller ofa produc, such a5 book about sailing, may publish a subscription ‘bjes Forte book where the subscription object is leated 5 subscription object module 4120. Using an appropiate appliestion cbject, such a5 2 shopping cart application ‘bjes, user may interact withthe subscription object, sock 2 by reviewing and buying the bool. In publishing 2 ‘subscription objec, a eealor ofthe suberption object may Sesignate what wets or communities are eligible to ateract ‘vis tbe subscription objec. By way of this example, the rear of the subscription object amy desigote thatthe Subscription be available fo communiies related to books (G books, cubs, bole reviews, publistes, ele) 200 to boating (€¢. sling, history of Bouts, bulders, et). The creator of s community oF «community miaitator may then elet to subscribe to a published subseipson ebject ‘According fo this example, an administrator ofthe “Omaha Salling Chub" communty say subscribe othe subscription objet forthe sailing book. ‘By using iistion butions 4020, user may view the substiption object. As sated above, session cotollecmed= ‘ule 4060, in communication wit aplication platform 4040, toc enable « scaress display of subscription objects. A ‘ser may be usaware, duet this seumless dopa, that one ‘or more application objects ae working in coavection With {he subseription object. For example, the beription bjes, located io subseription object module 4120, may be sccessed by shopping ctl application objet leafed ia the sppropeate application object module 4100, Goversor server module 4080 facilites session eoavoler module 4060 in accessing the shopping cart application. Session ‘controller module 4060 cordizaes ination and exeenion Of the shopping cart object, while applicuton plsifors rodule #040 coordinates presentation ofthe shopping cart ‘pplication object and interaction witb wer. Ole manners ‘of accessing sibscripion obec may algo be used By way of anotber example, a community may be related to heart disease, and the wsers may compese doctors within 1 bospial A particular bulletin board session inthe com- ‘munity may discuss various aspects of ental characterises of heart disease, and may further discuss «newly released Study on these charclersbies. A commnity sdminicirtor ‘nay determine hl the contents ofthe bulletin board session thay be of interest lo oler doctors. Using drag and drop” feature, tbe administator ean publi the buletin board session contents as a subscription object. Toe community prompts the adminsirator to provide information about the Eubscripton objet. The adeiistrator may provie a brisk Seterption of the contents of the bulletin board sesion, fncuding the study tat was discussed, The adminisratr ‘may tea provide formation sbost the number ead ity of pacieipanis ia the bulletin board session. Funber, be ‘eminisirator may determine thal only communities related to heart disease may subscribe, and that other communes rust pay fee lo subscribe 1 this pariclar subscription abject Other manners of publishing » subscription abject ray also be used eld Matching ‘A wsee may select Seateh Function 3048 to search for comatites, users, wndos, andor prodcts. As desebed Shove, a creator may designate one or more community Sela, and ewer may designate a ser Sel. According 0 a tmbodiment of the iweaton, a vendor my designale a ‘ado els. A vendor tay bre produc ol one of tore uses andlor communities, A vendor oy describe the ‘product by providing information for vendor files Vendor cide may comprise # category of categorie of ines, Innguage, location, age group, and weteiags of interest associnted wit he product. Ascording to an embodiment of the iaveation, vendor fields, communty Held, and ser fields may have comesponting information. Cental conol- Jer module 115 may Bave a fe matehingfnction assoc. sted tbereinto match uses, commvites, and vendors based on tbe Bells provided. A ser may provide ‘formation a & User fed According to ab embodiment of ie taveaion, « User may designate user Beldswhea erating a prole. User fields mey alse be desigosted by signing on fo «wailing ist. Field antching may occur peioccaly, (eg, bots, dally, ‘weekly, ele) fod the resus may be presented 1 8 Wer, ‘According to an embodiment of the favenion, Seld match- fing results may be presented when a user eters community, such as whens usr enters (¢@. logs lot) & community. Field matching results may be presented to tbe tse By way of example user may ener the “Omaba Stling Chob” community and be presented with vendor elds and community Selds Th veDdorSeld may ézsribe ‘book, incoglis, about suliag races around the word. The comminlyfeld tay dese anber newly created sling Communit), where tbe membership is in Lincoln Neb. ‘According to another embodiment af the invention, «com ‘munity may bave Bld talching aes, where a ‘ser may toms he Ald matehing fiction to lear. sbout ose products and/or communities. A usr may provide iofora tn for a user Held, a0€ may activate he eld mateiog ‘unui. Ober manner of Sch! matching may also be used ‘According to an example of the presen iavetion, ccommusity may be cepted for enabling users Lo ntratin 2 unig exvitoument: Toe following example provides 4 speciicembodimentforsueb «community wig the preseot invention. FIG 6iusretes componeais of central coatoler module 125 and data siorge module 260 ia deta 1 is Sodersocd that compodensoulined ia FIG. 1 may also be. ‘sed inthis syrom 58 spproprne. Each of hese components nits function is now eexcrbed “Tae central controller module 115 may function aa game sever for gaming community and cones the start of 8 fate, he gate play sod ules enforesment, monitors game Drogrss, abd player scorig, and determines te end oF the game. Cenral convolier module 115, following game play fay alin award geme poin to players (@g. ses) at tbe conclusion of the gue. Additonaly, cna cooler Iodule 1S may acts te inetace for guine play 1200 Iuliple playect and may slso busin vious types of Tnformation fom players aod purchasers of gADes, game ‘ements (uch as game ers wed in connection wih game play) ad associated game a0d produce. Csota coal Todule 115 alo provides certain information o players purchasers. Information provided may inlude, for example, ew genes, aGverisemeats, promotions, updates, and/or few ver information for ure fo contacting the set. Tafe- tation received and provided is sored in dst siorge ‘Bodule 160 processing unit module 330 may provide 1 over the operations occuring 80 cents] US 6,519,629 B2 2B controller module 118. The erypoysaphic application moe: Sle 320 supports the autbeaucation of communications between « service provider (which may, for example, oper Sie a mmleeplayer game service aod own or lease Sete] coatollsr module 115), plies andlor purchasere acd Ssveriseryvendos. In his prefered specike embodiment, {vo cryptogrepbic applications tre inclided: one for playing, monitoring, 20d distsbuting communities and {mes and snotber for e-commerce functions such spaying for purchases, ordering products, efe. The community and game encryption appleation may be industry standard encryption (ee, SSL, RSA, SET, cc), and is used 10 isuibue commtniee, games, maior games, and trade Vital values, The operating system (OS) 315, read only rhetor) module 325, andam access memory module 338, lock module 340, od player monitor and wer analysis ‘ppliestion modules 345, provide suppoxt fo CPU module 380, Ina prefered embodiment, OS 315 is ilber Unix based cor Microsoft Windows NT". Further, read only memory ‘module 328 may include a commercial BIOS for low level system coma. Payer mono ad user analysis application odules 345 may provide contol over community {btemctog, game play sod administration. For examph ‘ese applications may serve to ensue only legal moves ad actions (according to game rules) are made, Payer monitor ‘nd user analysis application modules 345 may also serve to fontol game soorig and cward datsbation, as well as tecerlain members of 4 community. While the above embodiment deseribes «single computer acting a5 central onuoller module 15, those skilled inthe art will realize that the finctione can be weed on 1 distbuted set of elworked computers rior toa discussion of be various databases which may comprise dala sloage cevioe modules 160, « background ‘egudiog game play in geoenal is provided. While the preseaticvection may be employed with variows applia- ons io general and various computer games partial TADS 100 may be pariealariy well suited for computer games javolving muliplayer ply and which involve par ‘ular "game clements as apart of game pay. For example, 4 game muy involve the use af "game cards." Game cards se Sous, «gameplaying expabiy that represent elements of a game, eg, by allowing player crtin abies in tbe fgime, A Zoe et of game carde may initially be seal to 2 player, such a ith an ovlaton to «community, Adtional ards can be purchased though Introet 100 using TADS 100, Allearés are iil seat to tbe player with be free set unlocked." Ta effec this contelled by maintining a database (eg. game database module 355) which ensbles particle eats or otber game elements on apayer by player basis. Carde can be traded between players vi. cetrl conuollr module 115, eller through + commusity, o Independently. All lemenis ofthe game ae peseal inthe txecutable included in he aplication objec, but the players do rot have permission oust some the game ual they tave been "pars ‘Returning to data storage module 160 and the description of is possible componeats, dota storage modules 160 store, update and provide information stored in various databases Jcluding, for example, payer dalabase modules 350, game database module 35, inquiry database module 360, mes tage calabase mole 363, euet database module 370 and ther database modules 375, Data slorage modules 160 may Include one of more bard disk drives including megoetic and ‘optical sorage units a well as CD-ROM deviees or ash rmemory. ‘Those sila inthe art wll recognize tht the 24 orage of the database contents could allematively be titted over Networ 150 such s the Inteane, or over fnother petwork, Player database wedule 380 Day store {nformaion pertaining to what games and game cards (or ober elemeas of game pley) the player owas and can usr, tod selected player demographics, lnquay database module 360, cooisns 2 historical dita set inciuding fnformetion relevant 10 player andlor purchaser requests as well 5 ‘rious other tpes of information auch. as advertising references, purchasing history, the number and value of ‘tual value ckets fscused below), end eating and rank fg of players. The audit datsbase module 370 msy contin information relevant to the purchases made by the player such a5 payment bistory and status as well as fullinent history tnd sts. Game datibase module 355 contains bistorieal doformsiion concsrning tbe particular games played such as wien the games were played, game resus, levels of play ete as well as associated payer information Message datibase module 365 copia + simmary of {nformation, by player, concering types of messages seat 0 the pliyer and received by the player and/or purcanses and any reals of game play. The other database modules 375, ‘may contain any ether fype of Snfornation associated with the application including, for example, summary {formation usage of virtual awards, dverserisformation, tage statis ad the ike In der to provide multiple player game playthrough the [Networle 150 under the contol of cxatalcontller module US, 4 guaber of stops take place afler + community information end subscription objects are received. Those skilled ia the art will eeognize that contol eould aliems- lively be accomplisbed through a peerco-peer network of through ofker communications links. The sleps sscocaled ‘wile tbe game distribution snd play ae ihusteted by the ‘Bowehariacded 4s FIG. 7. Exch of the slps io FIG. is