The Fact That A Credit Card Is Patented Is A Selling Point?

from the what-has-the-world-come-to dept

In the (snail) mail this week I happened to get an ad for the Visa Black Card, which Visa is pitching as “exclusive,” though I’m guessing that exclusivity is mostly based on finding enough suckers to pay a $500 annual fee for the card. Anyway, as I was tossing the application into the shredder, one thing caught my eye. The pamphlet cover lists out six marketing bullet points, with the fourth one being that the card is “patent pending.” This struck me as odd on a couple of fronts:

  1. Why is the fact that it’s patent pending a marketing point? I could maybe sorta barely understand it if it was an issued patent. But a pending one? That means next to nothing other than that you spent some money to file a patent application. To me, that means you may have wasted a lot of money — which could explain the $500 fee.
  2. A patent on what? On the idea of a “black card” or some other swanky exclusive credit card? Or on the physical card itself?

So, I did a little Googling, and turned up the following: apparently the patent filing (at the time of this announcement, just a provisional patent filing) is is on the physical card itself because it includes “carbon and/or carbon based material.” I guess if you’re the sort of person interested in spending so much money on a credit card, perhaps you’ll pay extra to have carbon in your credit card. Still doesn’t make much sense here…

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Companies: visa

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Comments on “The Fact That A Credit Card Is Patented Is A Selling Point?”

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36 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

It's recycling, Masnick...

“I guess if you’re the sort of person interested in spending so much money on a credit card, perhaps you’ll pay extra to have carbon in your credit card. Still doesn’t make much sense here…”

It’s all part of the Green Revolution. The card is actually made in part from the carbon footprint of Visa’s worldwide corporation as an effort to recycle.

So what you do, is you pay the $500 annual fee to pay for the process that infuses these cards with the carbon emission (to avoid lengthy detail, this process basically consists of stapling roughly 100 blank cards onto a brown-skinned person and then helicopter dropping them into a smokestack, which is where they get their dark colored card). This allows you, the largely retarded consumer to buy stuff with Visa’s carbon infused credit card, which increases their bottom line, allowing them to make MORE carbon infused cards, for more recycling.

So either you buy the Black Card, or you hate nature. Why do you hate puppies, Mr. Masnick?

Designerfx (profile) says:

It's very common

Mike, somewhere along the lines more than just credit card companies have thought “patent pending” is a great marketing term. I work for an engineering company and all day I get people proposing ideas to me about how they have the next big thing and it’s patent pending and it’s usually something blissfully obvious (and marginally changed). Example: the steel girders used to hold up buildings are nothing new. Yet all the time we get people wanting to have new ones approved. Yes, *new ones*, not that anyone else has tried some different varying percentage of metals together before. Anywhere where the percent is between 0 and 100 is something that has been done, whether you add something nonmetallic as well or not.

Top %1 of Americans says:

The Black Card

Gotta love how this “made with carbon” exclusive VISA card has “The Black Card” printed in huge letters across the front of the card. As if it would fail to impress the store clerk by simply being black (and carbon), it needs a huge self-descriptive title printed on it.

Best part is that my Citibank Diamond Mastercard is already black, comes with betters features, benefits, and points, and is $495/year cheaper than “The Black Card”.

Dmitriy Plaks (profile) says:

patent misuse anyone?

So if we take the claim of “carbon and/or carbon based material” to the extreme as many patent hoarders do all the time, does this mean that if this patent is granted that all carbon based credit cards are covered? This is a problem for one main reason: most (if not all) plastics contain some carbon.

Lets take a typical credit card. Its made of laminated pvc (polyvinyl chloride). This plastic is made entirely of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine molecules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride). To a lawyer it sounds a lot like the plastic is a carbon based material and would be covered by this patent.

This could end in several ways: 1) ThinkTank Holdings sues MasterCard and Discover for patent infringement on their regular cards; 2) ThinkTank Holdings sues anyone who has ever made any kind of material that has any carbon in it (this would include just about any kind of consumer and industrial material out there, including diamonds, graphite, gasoline, methane, steel, etc, etc, etc); 3) ThinkTank Holdings just licenses the patent to Visa and calls it a day. You can draw your own conclusions, but I don’t think option 3 is going to be very popular.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While newsworthy blog posts are nice, this is still a blog. Sometimes things are said just to be said and not analyzed.

I want a platinum glazed card, personally. If they’re going to sell me the idea that platinum is the best, then why the hell is the card cheap ass plastic? I’m paying their asses good money, I want a REAL platinum card.

Anonymous Coward says:

vanity patents

it’s called a vanity patent. marketing research has found that saying “patent pending” or “patented” will give you a slight statistical edge over the competition.

lots of “as seen on tv” crap gets vanity patents. typically:
— the patent doesn’t claim anything that’s actually useful or somehow valuable.
— the clients are willing to make _ANY_ deal with the examiner just so they can get the patent through with minimal filing costs.
— the clients never sue anyone for infringing these patents.

Fred McTaker (profile) says:

Which kind of patent?

There’s actually 2 kinds of patents:

1. Utility patents, which tend to be applied over-broad to anything of similar “utility” or functionality. I think there’s special classes within this, like drug patents specially designed to keep poor people sick and/or dying. The basic point is the patent holder generally gets to troll against any remotely similar/superior products, to keep innovation out of the marketplace, and only in the East Texas courts.

2. Design patents, which nobody uses or cares about, because to violate them you must create a replica so precise that you almost have to hire the same third-world manufacturer as the patent holder, to produce your violating copies.

I’m guessing that the patent is indeed for marketing purposes only (as stupid as that is), and that it’s type 2, so that nobody else can look all the same, just putting their logo where the VISA logo and/or hologram are. In this case, trademark protection is actually better legally, and cheaper for them to both register and defend. Maybe trademarks aren’t as “marketable” as pending patents to stupid rich people in a hurry?

I’ve never understood vanity credit accounts. I’d rather have a vanity savings account, with no card and a double-digit interest return rate. Sign me up for my In-the-Black Secret Savings!

Smart-Ass Chemist says:

Plastic...

…is fundamentally made with carbon in it and thus based on carbon.

“So, I did a little Googling, and turned up the following: apparently the patent filing (at the time of this announcement, just a provisional patent filing) is is on the physical card itself because it includes “carbon and/or carbon based material.””

Approving that patent would yield the patent owner the power to legally bog down the nation as a whole. (think about it: card keys in hotels, credit/debit cards, name badges, business cards, gift cards,…)

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