Internet-based search engine for price monitoring

present invention relates to search engines, and in particular to search engines adapted for monitoring dynamic data on a distributed computer network such as the internet.

The rapid growth of shopping web sites on the internet has spawned a number of internet search engines that routinely monitor a plurality of such web sites to compare the prices of various commodities being offered on those sites. For a given product or commodity, the price comparison web site conventionally lists a number of suppliers known to be vending the commodity and. against each supplier, displays a latest known price for the commodity.

Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.

A user of such search engines typically visits the price comparison web site, enters the name of a manufacturer and/or commodity of interest, and the price comparison web site delivers a list of most recently established prices for that commodity at respective vendor web sites.

A problem with such search engines is that commodity prices vary rapidly over time and a user of the price comparison web site has no means of knowing whether the price comparison data being provided is completely up to date, or if subsequent offers have reduced prices further.

Another problem with such price comparison web sites is that the user must visit both the price comparison web site to perform the search for prices, and also the vendor web site(s) to finally verify prices and to order the commodity.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an automated process for checking, from a vendor web site, how the price of a product being viewed on the vendor web site compares with other vendor web sites.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an automated process for notifying a user when a user-specified product or commodity reaches or passes a user- specified price on one or more of a plurality of vendor web sites. According to one aspect, the present invention provides a automated method for price verification of a commodity being offered on a vendor web site, comprising: operating an intermediary search engine to compile and maintain an intermediary product database of price information relating to a plurality of commodities, each commodity being of