Earlier in May, U.S. Patent No. 8,186,599 was issued entitled "Collectable Gift Cards." The patent is based on a patent application filed in October, 2007.
Yep, five years. That's a fast moving patent office for you.
To give you an idea of what the patent covers, here's Claim 1:
1. A collectable gift card having a primary cash value and a secondary non-cash value comprising: a writable and readable non-volatile memory for receiving, maintaining and dispersing said cash value; a unique identification number; said secondary value comprising a printed image on a front side of said card; whereby said printed image is an authentic playing piece in one of a board game, parlor game, or a card game; whereby said printed image is one of a selection of multiple sub-images; and whereby a collection of all the sub-images renders a certain whole image.
Legal translation: It’s a gift card that can double as a game or puzzle piece. When fit together with other gift cards, they make a picture.
Seriously, did the patent attorneys really need that many words to say that?
The patent's figures also do a good job showing how the invention of Claim 1 works, including puzzle-piece-shaped trading cards.
I can also confidently say this is the only patent that stars the cast of Family Guy.
Legal translation: I guess this patent itself then is collectible.
Within the patent, the inventor describes the motivation behind his invention:
ift cards are still only as valuable as the monetary amount placed on them. As soon as the monetary value has been depleted the cards are thrown out by the consumer or retailer or recycled by the retailer or manufacturer.
Because of this, the inventor wants to create "a secondary value to the card such as making the gift cards collectible items that outlive their usefulness of storing monetary value amounts."
Now, the inventor's goal (a collectible gift card) is broader than Claim 1 (a puzzle game piece), but his ultimate goal may be realized soon.
Like, did you know that Topps bought a gift card company?
I'm not saying that collectible gift cards are the future of trading cards, although I can say I do have quite a few gift card carcasses lying around my house (And wallet. And car), so if someone can find a way to cut down on such clutter, it may have a market.
And why stop with collectible gift cards? Why not make hotel key cards collectible too? I have hundreds of those. And parking garage passes? And security swipe cards that get you into office buildings?
OK, that's probably going to far.
But, wouldn't it be fun to bust a pack of Bowman Chrome and find a Bryce Harper gift card with $20 of actual value on it, too? Now that's a collectible gift card!
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