WO2002019236A1 - Internet based method for asset recovery maximization through reverse logistics optimization and utilizing new seller incentive methodology - Google Patents

Internet based method for asset recovery maximization through reverse logistics optimization and utilizing new seller incentive methodology Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2002019236A1
WO2002019236A1 PCT/US2001/041925 US0141925W WO0219236A1 WO 2002019236 A1 WO2002019236 A1 WO 2002019236A1 US 0141925 W US0141925 W US 0141925W WO 0219236 A1 WO0219236 A1 WO 0219236A1
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commodity
portal
method
offering
further
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PCT/US2001/041925
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French (fr)
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Raj Abhyanker
Patrick John Freeburger
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Converge, Inc.
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions

Abstract

A method for operating a networked asset recovery portal in which a commodity is traded from a seller to a purchaser by the portal (240). The method includes the seller identifying the commodity to the portal's operator, determining an asset recovery strategy (230) for the commodity, and offering the commodity for sale (270) on the portal in accordance with the asset recovery strategy.

Description

INTERNET BASED METHOD FOR ASSET RECOVERY MAXIMIZATION

THROUGH REVERSE LOGISTICS OPTIMIZATION AND UTILIZING NEW

SELLER INCENTIVE METHODOLOGY

BACKGROUND

Ever since the industrial revolution, rapid technological advancements have created a need for corporations, schools, universities, and governments ("Strategic Accounts") to constantly upgrade their technology infrastructure to remain competitive. "Strategic Accounts" are a term of art in the high technology computer industry, referring to a large customer segment whose need is to constantly remain on the forefront of technology in order to remain competitive. However, many other industries are similar to the high technology computer industry and thus may equally benefit from invention.

In the United States, many "Strategic Accounts" repurchase their personal computer infrastructure as often as every year to remain competitive, because rapid technological advancements result in obsolescence of the previous computer infrastructure purchases. For example, in the 1980's and early 1990's traditional high technology computer manufacturers sold their wares to Strategic Accounts through a series of intermediaries, known as dealers and distributors. During this era, computer manufacturers opted for a dealer/distributor mechanism for two major reasons. The first reason was the "hi-touch" requirement of selling personal computers. Because personal computers were new consumer products, high technology computer manufacturers needed dealer/distributor networks to assume the role of building product awareness, customer bases, and opening retail stores, so that manufacturers could focus on creating new and innovative products, and not have to worry about building product awareness, customer bases, or opening retail stores around the world. The second reason for a dealer/distributor mechanism involved warranty and service. High technology computer manufacturers felt that cost savings could be realized by having warranty and service handled by dealers/distributors who were in direct contact with the customer. Additionally, dealer/distributor storefront operators provided manufacturers greater visibility and brand recognition of their product to customers. Therefore dealer/distributor networks acted as agents for administering warranty and service for high technology computer manufacturers without building internal service departments within high technology companies.

Generally high technology computer manufacturers selling and manufacturing new wares do not deal in older obsolete computers because they must utilize their limited cash on hand to build and manufacture new computers to remain profitable. Therefore, the manufacturers realize that the addition of old products destabilized their companies, tied up cash flow and confused distribution channels. Strategic Accounts were often faced with huge burdens of accounting for previously purchased, and now obsolete computer infrastructures. In the 1980's and early 1990's, this became one major indirect benefit that high technology computer manufacturers realized came as a result of a dealer/distributor model. Often times, computer dealers were family owned businesses begun by enterprising entrepreneurs, who sought to maximize revenue from each sale. Because of the intense competition in the dealer/distribution channel, it was difficult for computer dealers to make money selling solely based on price. For this reason, many computer dealers began seeing huge revenue opportunities in secondary market related service transactions. For example, as Strategic Accounts decided they needed to repurchase new computer infrastructure yearly, computer dealers found that they could repurchase, existing computer infrastructure, often times sold just a year previous, at steep discounts. For example, if a large beverage manufacturer purchased $2,000,000 of computer infrastructure in year 1991 from a computer dealer, it was not unusual to see just a year later, in 1992, the market value of that purchase drop to $1,200,000 as a complete unit because of rapid technological advancement.

Because most Strategic Accounts are in the business of providing goods and services unrelated to computers and lack domain expertise of the computer industry, Strategic Accounts often perceive the current market value of the computer infrastructure purchased in 1991, the beverage manufacturer's perception is that the market value of the computer infrastructure purchased in year 1991 is virtually nothing. As a result, when a large beverage manufacturer seeks to replace old computer infrastructure purchased a year ago, one of two things usually happened. First, the old purchased inventory was moved to a scrap warehouse, where it would sit until it was later sold off at a general auction along with other excess/discarded equipment, furniture, etc. for pennies on the dollar. For example, the $2,000,000 purchase in 1991 may be sold in a general auction by the beverage manufacturer's auctioneer in 1994 for $1000. This occurred because obsolescence quickly erodes the market price of computer infrastructure and it was typical to see that visible market value of whole computers drop to virtually nothing after three years. Second, the $2,000,000 computer infrastructure purchased by the Strategic Account in 1991 was sold to a computer dealer selling new infrastructure in 1992 for $300,000. From the beverage manufacturer's view, the second scenario of recovering $300K for the 1991 inventory is much more attractive than letting the inventory move to a scrap warehouse, where the recovery value was minimal.

However, due to the computer dealer's domain expertise, the computer dealer purchasing the old computer infrastructure for $300,000 could often times rapidly sell the $300,000 purchase of 1991 inventory often times for as high as $750,000 on the secondary distributor market. The secondary distributors would again sell the inventory (often times broken in smaller lots or in parts) to smaller secondary dealers and buyers around the world, until the full market value of $1,200,000 was nearly realized. Because of its lack of domain expertise, the beverage manufacturer incurred a substantial loss in terms of lost opportunity cost. The same lost opportunity cost can be seen in several industries.

In addition, computers, printers, and other electronic/mechanical devices are often comprised of parts. These parts are listed on a Bill of Materials, containing all the components making up a computer or electronic device. In order to create supply chain efficiencies, computer engineers and supply chain experts would often times try to use as many "common parts" between older generation hardware and new generation hardware. Therefore the "common parts" in a 1991 computer infrastructure, for example, may have more value in 1992 than the infrastructure as a whole, if segments of its Bill of Materials were sold individually. Such common parts often include, for example, memory, hard drive, monitor, floppy drive, or other components which have been traditionally maintained in a plurality of computer generations. Customers for these common parts may include, for example, computer service centers, parts brokers, small computer manufacturers, businesses looking to upgrade their hard drives or memory, and consumers looking to fix their out-of- warranty computers.

Finding these customers in a non-internet world, however, was extremely difficult without tying up cash flow for extended periods of time. For this reason, and because obsolescence affects the market value of computers dramatically, computer dealers often simply sold year old model computers as a whole. Therefore, not only did the beverage manufacturer incur lost opportunity cost, but the computer dealer also effectively incurred a lost opportunity cost in cash flow allocation and timely consummation. This usually occurred because the computer dealer did not have the cash flow stability nor the volume of high technology industry secondary markets parts buyer contacts to know or realize the true market value of the parts within the hardware purchased from the beverage manufacturer.

In the mid-1990's, high technology computer manufacturers reinvented the high technology computer distribution channel by selling their wares directly to Strategic Accounts without dealer/distributor networks. Having a direct relationship with their Strategic Accounts and end-user customers yielded in huge profitability and supply chain optimization advantages for companies because of its direct model. Companies were better able to plan their manufacturing schedules, thereby lowering their cost of manufacturing, and capture more business by selling directly to Strategic Accounts and end-users without a dealer/distribution network taking a piece of the pie. Traditional high technology computer manufacturers were forced to compete with these companies in order to remain viable. For this reason, most companies have now shifted to a direct model for many of their Strategic Account and end user segments.

The current trend has made the losses in asset value recovery even worse when measured from a lost opportunity cost standpoint as done in the 1980's to early-1990's analysis. As the computer manufacturers have moved to a direct model of selling to their Strategic Accounts utilizing direct sales mechanisms such as web stores, company owned stores, direct catalogs, many computer dealers have gone out of business. Unable to compete with the manufacturers directly, many computer dealers had to shift their focus to value added software integration providers, known in the industry as "VARs" (Value Added Resellers), and away from selling new products and repurchasing existing preexisting computer infrastructure as they did earlier. Increasingly, the asset recovery of previously sold computer infrastructure has gone from Strategic Accounts directly to scrap warehouses, resulting in massive losses when measured in lost opportunity cost. The problem is further complicated because Strategic Accounts may interchangeably replace its computer with a different computer manufacturer. For example, a beverage manufacturer might replace its Hewlett Packard computers purchased in 1991 with Compaq computers in 1992. The latter manufacturer is unlikely to take in another manufacturer's older equipment as it is likely to destabilize and defocus the manufacturer from selling new computers. As a result, not only is there lost asset recovery for the beverage manufacture but its budget for purchasing new computer infrastructure is less than if it were able to quickly recover the true market value of its existing infrastructure.

Even now, high technology commodities vendors have not moved to a direct sales model to Strategic Accounts because of the immense problems related to previously sold infrastructure. Ever since the early 1980's to current day, commodities manufacturers comprising memory manufacturers, monitor manufacturers and microprocessor manufacturers have sold through dealer channels or through OEM (original equipment manufacturer) relationships with computer manufacturers who use hard drives, memory, and microprocessors as parts when manufacturing computers. Because of the rapid technological advances in memories, hard drives, monitors, and microprocessors, and because of fierce competition, these markets have largely become "commodity" products, which have a very short shelf life before devaluing rapidly. Memory and hard drive manufacturers have suffered significantly due to immense international competition and lower barriers to entry. On the other hand, computer dealers have seen hard drive, monitor, memory, and microprocessor upgrades as a potential money making opportunity. Because Strategic Accounts sometimes do not need all new infrastructure, and instead opt for simply a hard drive upgrade or memory upgrade, computer dealers have been able to offer Strategic Account price points which memory manufacturers, hard drive manufacturers, and microprocessor manufacturers could not directly match. The reason for this has to do with "trade-ups." A "trade-up" refers to a dealer's ability to capture and take ownership of existing memory chips and hard drives within a computer, while offering a single price of upgrade to a Strategic Account. The reason for a trade-up is complex. First, the computer dealer may take ownership of a hard drive made by a variety of manufacturers by offering a "trade-up" service. In this case the computer dealer may offer a separate service for "installation" and "data transfer" and may charge an additional amount per hard drive sold. For this reason, the computer dealer may actually end up recovering a substantial profit for each hard drive. Hard drive manufacturers are generally unwilling to balance the cost of the old hard drive, because they do not want to tie up their available cash by taking ownership of old hard drives that they did not manufacture, or destabilize their focus by selling used drives which also hyper-depreciate (such as hard drives, ram, and microprocessors), and also because the used drives may in fact be made by a competing manufacturer. For this reason and as seen in similar industries as the microprocessor, monitor, and memory space, these commodity manufacturers have never gone to a direct sales model, and therefore have not been able to optimize their manufacturing costs properly by better gauging customer demand. Moreover, they have not been able to obtain higher profit margins by selling direct.

The present invention addresses these problems, and effectively creates new customers for components manufacturers thereby shifting a "commodity" based business to one with extremely large value added services offerings. The present invention allows for the hard drive, memory, microprocessor and other industries to be able to directly sell to their customers without intermediaries, thereby being able to capture more value from their hardware offering. The invention achieves this by creating a mechanism whereby a hard drive, memory, microprocessor; or monitor manufacturer can refer a strategic account to quickly sell through a preexisting infrastructure set up through an Virtual Portal or plurality of Virtual Portals, and still make money by referring the business to the primary portal, which serves as gateway between the strategic account and the consummation means. A description of a network exchange or portal is described in U.S. Patent No. 6,058,379 issued to Odom et al.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A method for operating a networked asset recovery portal in which a commodity is traded from a seller to a purchaser by the portal is described. The method includes the seller identifying the commodity to the portal's operator, determining an asset recovery strategy for the commodity, and offering the commodity for sale on the portal in accordance with the asset recovery strategy.

The invention provides an internet based reverse logistics service that derives from a channel clearance mechanism that individual high-technology companies cannot do or cannot efficiently do themselves. The invention is a form of a virtual product trade-in/trade-up program for system sellers wishing to upgrade preexisting assets at a customer site to newer equipment. The invention provides a "Virtual Portal" comprising of a series and pluralities of partner portals whereby such transactions are facilitated and product recovery maximized. The invention accomplishes this by migrating authorized dealers, distributors, secondary market players, scrap dealers, raw material dealers, shredding services, landfill exchanges, spare parts vendors, and service providers to bid through a Virtual Portal (which can be many other portals dynamically linked together), thereby creating a huge bidder community that can determine the true value of a technology asset or its functional parts. The revenue for the companies operating this web-based Virtual Portal stems from the commission the customer company is charged for using the Virtual Portal. The seller of the new infrastructure, or manufacturer (NewSeller), who prompts or refers the customer company to the Virtual Portal receives a portion of the commission on the sale of the product. This value added incentive not only encourages manufacturers (NewSellers) to persuade their Strategic Accounts to use the Virtual Portal but clears the lane for selling new products to the Strategic Account. Therefore, it becomes unnecessary for the Strategic Account company to deal with the best asset recovery maximization strategies as that responsibility would shift to the high technology Virtual Portal and the NewSeller. Both the Virtual Portal and NewSeller would effectively be paid for services as a "team of consultants" who are paid for their domain expertise in the high technology industry, reverse logistics secondary market expertise, and for the captured customer base in the high technology industry that buys from the Virtual Portal. Ownership burden would remain with the Strategic Account, who would effectively be trading short term ownership burden on existing IT assets for significantly higher asset recovery through value maximization through the Virtual Portal.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is illustrated by way of example, and not limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings in which like references denote similar elements, and in which:

Figure 1 illustrates a process for operating a networked asset recovery exchange in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 2 illustrates an alternative process for operating a networked asset recovery exchange in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 3 illustrates a process for determining an asset recovery strategy according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 4 illustrates a process for offering a commodity for sale in multiple forms and selling the commodity in the form that receives the highest return according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 5 illustrates a flowchart of a recapture service according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 6 illustrates a flowchart of a recapture end of component life process using peer-to- peer technology to create visibility to components within traded-in equipment and visibility to EOCL service stocks;

Figure 7 illustrates a asset recapture network block diagram according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 8 illustrates various additional services provided by an asset recovery exchange according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 9 illustrates potential recovery vs functionality of a product or part for use in asset recovery;

Figure 10 illustrates an asset recovery exchange and the various participants on the exchange;

Figure 11 illustrates the distinction between the traditional and current trends in vertical distribution chain; Figure 12 illustrates an asset recapture process according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 13 is a block diagram of an electronic network-based exchange system according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 14 illustrates a process for configuring and operating a network exchange in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 15 illustrates an exchange provider with additional processing capability according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

Figure 16 illustrates a networked exchange coupled to multiple other networked exchanges according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a means for maximizing and facilitating infrastructure recovery at Strategic Accounts through reverse logistics optimization services by a Virtual Portal, which acts as a consummation and optimization mechanism; and a NewSeller of infrastructure assets, who acts as an intermediary, referrer, and point of contact between the Virtual Portal and the Strategic Account. Reverse logistics is the process under which any product sold to a customer, that the customer no longer wants, is consummated back through the supply chain to maximize asset recovery and minimize losses.

According to one embodiment, the present invention is tied into the point of "new sale" or the point of time that a System seller is upgrading or replacing preexisting technology equipment at a Strategic Account. At such a time, a "one quote" system can alternatively be adopted to give the Strategic Account one price in terms of upgrading their equipment by offering a one quote trade-in price for preexisting assets. The credit to be given for the preexisting asset can come in the form of an upfront credit, discount on invoice, rebate, or other form. The invention first assumes a migrating of existing manufacturers, intermediaries, parts merchants, scrap merchants, landfill service providers, dealers, and secondary market buyers globally to the Virtual Portal. The Virtual Portal can be created in a variety of industries, for example, the microprocessor industry, medical equipment industry, manufacturing equipment industry, telecommunications industry, defense industry, general and contract manufacturing industry, semiconductor industry, raw material industries, subcomponent manufacturing industries, retail and government distribution industries, pharmaceutical industry, automotive industry, software industry, aerospace industry, industrial equipment industry, Application Service Provider industries, agricultural industries, food services industries, retail and commercial land sell/leasing/rental property industries, financial services industries, banking industries, furniture industry, oil/gas/energy industries, consulting industries, legal services industries, medical services industries, office equipment industry and computer hardware industry. By integrating this "bidder community" the Virtual Portal brings together all the potential purchasers to recapture market value of preexisting technology assets. It should be noted that such a community can be created "virtually" through back end reverse logistics strategy processes for matching particular opportunities to particular segments of bidders already at other portals.

The traditional model for a vertical distribution chain was one where the manufacturer sold the product to a dealer/distributor, who in turn sold the product to a Strategic Account customer. When the product was no longer useful to the Strategic Account customer, it was sold to a secondary distributor for a set amount, as its market value was unknown, or sold for scrap. This model can be seen in Figure 11. The current trend, also illustrated in Figure 11, is for the manufacturer to sell directly to the national customer. But the problem of the used product remains. It is usually sold as scrap. The invention addresses this by providing a service where the asset is recovered.

Figure 1 illustrates a process for operating a networked asset recovery exchange in accordance with the present invention. The terms exchange and portal are used interchangeably herein. In process 100 a commodity whose value is to be recovered is identified 110 to a portal or exchange operator. An asset recovery strategy is then determined 120 for the commodity. Various types of asset recovery strategies that depend on the condition and other characteristics of the commodity are described in greater detail below. The invention is not limited to any particular type of asset recovery strategy. The commodity is offered 130 for sale or auction on the portal. The terms exchange and sale and auction may be used interchangeably herein.

Figure 2 illustrates an alternative process for operating a networked asset recovery exchange in accordance with the present invention. In process 200 an agreement is negotiated 210 between the exchange operator and a Strategic Account to sell a commodity through the networked asset recovery exchange. In such a situation, the Strategic Account may have been referred to the exchange operator by a NewSeller who is trying to sell equipment to the Strategic Account or the Strategic Account may have gone independently to the exchange. In an alternative embodiment, the agreement may be negotiated between a NewSeller, on behalf of the exchange, and the Strategic Account. After the agreement is negotiated, the commodity is identified and or consigned 220 to the exchanged operator. An asset recovery strategy is then determined 230 for the commodity. It is then determined 240 whether the commodity is to be sold on the networked exchange or through direct selling. If the commodity is to be sold through direct selling, the commodity is offered 250 through direct selling and sold 260 to a buyer. If the commodity is to be sold via the networked exchange, the commodity is offered 270 for sale on the networked exchange and sold 280 to the buyer. A commission that is to be paid to the exchange operator for selling the commodity via the exchange or through direct selling is then determined 290. If the Strategic Account was referred to the exchange operator by the NewSeller, the NewSeller may receive 295 a fraction of the commission determined at 290.

Figure 12 illustrates an asset recapture process according to one embodiment of the present invention. In process 1200, asset recapture begins with a Strategic Account inquiring 1205 about a new sale with a NewSeller. NewSeller determines 1210 whether there is a new sale opportunity. If there is a new sale opportunity, a new sale is conducted 1215 and the commodity that the Strategic Account is seeking to replace is subjected 1220 to an asset recovery strategy inquiry by a recapture team. Depending upon the determinations of the asset recovery strategy inquiry sales of the commodity are made 1225.

Figure 3 illustrates a process for determining an asset recovery strategy according to one embodiment of the present invention. Process 300 is representative of determining an asset 120 of Figure 1 or determining an asset 230 of Figure 2. h process 300, the commodity identified or consigned by the Strategic Account is examined 310 to determine whether it is defective or not. If the commodity is defective, a bill of materials is obtained 320 and at least one of the following is performed 330: offer constituent parts to scrap market; offer raw material scrap to raw material merchants; and offer hazardous wastes to waste disposal operator. The offers made at 330 can be made through direct selling, via the networked exchange, or both. If the commodity is not defective, the commodity is examined 340 to determine whether it is to be sold as parts. If the commodity is to be sold as parts, a bill of materials is obtained 350 and constituent parts of commodity are offered 360 for sale on networked exchanged and/or through direct selling. If the commodity is not to be sold as parts, the commodity is examined 370 to determine whether it is newer or more functional than similar commodities in a certain geographic region. If the commodity is newer or more functional than similar commodities in a certain geographic region, the commodity is offered 390 in the certain geographic region. If the commodity is either older or not as functional as similar commodities in the certain geographic region, perform 380 at least one of the following: offer commodity in an alternative geographic region different from the certain geographic region; offer constituent parts of commodity for sale on exchange; offer commodity through secondary dealer; and offer commodity directly to consumers. The offers made at 380 can be made through direct selling, via the networked exchange, or both.

Figure 4 illustrates a process for offering a commodity for sale in multiple forms and selling the commodity in the form that receives the highest return according to one embodiment of the present invention. Process 400 is representative of offering 130 commodity for sale of Figure 1 and offering 270 commodity for sale of Figure 2. In process 400, a commodity is offered 410 for sale in at least two forms selected from: whole units, constituent parts, scrap, and raw scrap material. Bids are then received 420 for the at least two forms. The commodity is sold 430 in the form of the at least two forms that receives the highest offer.

In a system in accordance with the principles of the invention and as seen in Figures 5 and 10, a computer manufacturer (NewSeller) sales representative would first make a call to a Strategic Account, asking if they need to buy new computer hardware. The Strategic Account would then express a desire to purchase new computer hardware from the NewSeller, but may express a concern about what to do with preexisting computer hardware. Alternatively, the NewSeller sales representative could offer a service agreement to sell the preexisting computer hardware on behalf of the Strategic Account through the high technology Virtual Portal. Alternatively, the Strategic Account may independently contact the Virtual Portal to assist in handling the preexisting hardware, in an effort to convince the Strategic Account to buy new hardware from the NewSeller. NewSeller would then negotiate an agreement with the Strategic Account, preferably with the portal's approval or within a window of negotiating pre-approval. Yet another approach would be where the NewSeller sales representative would offer a service to have the high technology Virtual Portal help the Strategic Account sell the preexisting computer hardware, in an effort to convince the Strategic Account to buy new hardware from the NewSeller. The Virtual Portal would then consult the Strategic Account to formulate a strategy to promote maximum asset recovery and negotiate an agreement for services. The Virtual Portal and the Strategic Account would then enter into a consignment contract to sell the old hardware through Virtual Portal, whereby the Strategic Account retains full ownership interest of the old hardware. Next the NewSeller would sell new hardware to the Strategic Account, and direct the removal of the old existing computer hardware. The old existing hardware is consolidated and shipped to a designated physical warehouse maintained by the Virtual Portal.

The old existing computer hardware would then be transferred, preferably by way of a consignment, to the Virtual Partner or its agents on behalf of the Strategic Account. Accordingly, the ownership interest would be maintained with the Strategic Account. The old existing hardware would be consolidated and shipped into a designated hub. A team of high technology industry secondary market experts located at the Virtual Portal physical warehouse would then determine the best way to value maximize the old existing computer hardware. The experts may follow any methodology to achieve this. A preferred methodology would be to first segment the old computer hardware by condition, for example, excellent/marketable hardware, excellent/obsolete hardware, mixed/marketable-obsolete defective/working components, and defective/obsolete, as seen in Figure 9. It should be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to these labels but includes other labels as well. Next, based on goals and service commission negotiated with the Strategic Account, the expert would determine which way to asset maximize the inventory, for example, whole unit or parts. If the latter, and assuming excellent or defective but with working components, they would obtain a Bill of Materials parts list for what is inside the old existing computer hardware. Such a list usually can be obtained directly from NewSeller if they manufactured it, or it may be obtained from service manuals or from disassembly of one unit. Next, the experts would determine which parts are currently used in new hardware and which parts have been used over a series of models, understanding that the latter components usually have the highest asset recovery maximization possibility. Next, the offering of components would be posted over a web portal for Buyers. The Buyer of the product/part may be any technology parts broker, scrap dealer, raw material vendor, service provider, computer dealer, or any one else involved in a value recapture business. Buyers may be identified by strategic partnerships with other vertical market exchanges and other dealers migrated to align their existing financial flows through the portal. As components get purchased by Buyers, labor units at the warehouse where consolidated old computers are stored would disassemble and repackage the parts for shipment. The products would then be shipped to the Buyer, perhaps utilizing an optional escrow system, or other delayed financial payment system to insure payment to Seller and description consistency to Buyer.

For a whole unit, assuming it is in excellent condition, a determination of whether the product has liquid market value in U.S. or foreign markets is preferred. Assuming an excellent condition product, a two part test may be conducted, to help determine the appropriate course of action. First if the old computer asset is of a newer type and functionality than the average computer in a geographic region, then an offering would be posted over the web community in a geographic region in a targeted manner. For example, it may be posted where there is the greatest delta between the average computer functionality and the old computer asset. Most preferably, however, the offering would be posted over the global web community. The products would then be shipped to the Buyer, perhaps utilizing an optional escrow system, or other delayed financial payment system to insure payment to Seller and description consistency to Buyer.

If, however, the old computer asset is not of a newer type and functionality than the average computer in a geographic region, a different geographic region of the world would be targeted. Alternatively, a parts recovery strategy may be determined. Second, if there are significant quantities to sustain aggregate sales through to a dealer in the identified geographic market, then aggregate bid offering through secondary dealer audience portal would preferably be considered. If this is not the case, a bid offering would be posted through a B2C (business to consumer) mechanism directly to consumer to maximize asset recovery. The products would then be shipped to the Buyer, perhaps utilizing an optional escrow system, or other delayed financial payment system to insure payment to Seller and description consistency to Buyer.

On the other hand, if the equipment were determined to be totally defective, the best method to part out system would be determined. This may be done by, for example, examining the Bill of Material. The defective components would then be posted on the scrap market for meltdown, resale, consumption, or remanufacture. Other postings on the Virtual Portal may include, for example, raw material scrap for bidding by raw materials merchants. If there are hazardous wastes, hazardous waste would be posted for reverse auction bid through Virtual Portal for land management services. In a reverse auction mechanism, the Seller would effectively have to pay for services for disposal, whose optimization and visibility technique would still warrant a payment of an added commission premium flowing to Internet Virtual Portal and NewSeller. The products would then be shipped to the Buyer, perhaps utilizing an optional escrow system, or other delayed financial payment system to insure description consistency for the Buyer and payment to the NewSeller or Strategic Account. Finally, in order to facilitate the transaction between the Buyer and Strategic Account, any traditional escrow process of secondary markets or a finance payment delay mechanism may be implemented, though a financial payment delay mechanism is preferred. Typically, escrow and financial delay mechanism comprises four steps, those steps being agreement, payment, delivery, and inspection. The interface should be designed as to guide parties throughout the entire transaction completion process. First, the agreement step is defined as when either Buyer or Strategic Account begins the transaction by providing terms and information about the merchandise. Both parties must accept the terms of the agreement for the transaction to proceed. Second, the Buyer submits payment to a trusted intermediary where it is verified for funds and availability. The trusted intermediary then secures the payment in their trust account. Third, an escrow or financial payment delay service notifies the Strategic Account that the Buyer's payment is securely held in a trust account. The Virtual Portal's consigned or otherwise warehouse then secures delivery of the merchandise to the Buyer. Fourth, the Buyer decides to accept or reject the merchandise within an inspection period agreed to by both parties. If the Buyer accepts the goods, the trusted intermediary releases the funds to the Strategic Account.

However, in order for the portal to receive revenue from this service it provides, a commission may be deducted from the funds paid from the Buyer to the Strategic Account. For example, the portal may take a 4% - 90% or greater commission. This commission may be negotiated between the portal and Strategic Account and may be paid by the escrow or financial payment delay service, if one is utilized. Similarly, a percentage of the funds may also go to NewSeller for referring Strategic Account customers to use the portal for the sale of their old or used equipment.

Throughout this process, ownership interest flows from the Strategic Account to the Buyer, who purchases the old product or part and assumes the new ownership. The buyer of the product/part may be any technology parts broker, scrap dealer, raw material vendor, service provider, computer dealer, or anyone else involved in a value recapture business. The buyers are identified by strategic partnerships with other vertical market exchanges through "virtual portal" services, and other founder dealers are automatically migrated by aligning their existing financial flows through the portal. The portal may retain a percentage of the revenue from the sale of the product/part. In addition, the manufacturer may receive a percentage of the portal's commission or a percentage from the sale of the product/part as an incentive to encourage its Strategic Account customers to use the portal for the sale of their old or used equipment. This process will also allow NewSellers to focus on selling new products at lower cost and higher profit margins without taking ownership of products already sold to Strategic Accounts. Moreover, this also allows manufacturers to sell their products for lower costs as they do not have to account for the loss when intaking used products. In addition, this invention would allow the Strategic Accounts to also benefit by maximizing recovery from preexisting owned technology assets, thereby having more revenue to purchase new technology or products from the NewSeller.

The Virtual Portal, in addition to asset maximization services, may provide a range of optional services, including warranties, consulting services, refurbishment services, landfill management services, inspection services, or any service that may be relevant to the product sold. These value added services may be tailored for a particular Strategic Account, who may decide that offering such services will increase recovery value. Accordingly, the Virtual Portal can employ custom applications to meet high asset recovery parameters best suited for particular products or industries.

For example, the invention can be utilized to create a "virtual spot-market parts catalog", which can offer visibility for hard to find components through a peer-to-peer network and allow a means whereby potential buyers or even NewSellers can procure spare parts which later would be broken apart assuming an optional reserve price were met for a particular part making up the whole as illustrated in Figure 6. The "virtual spot-market parts catalog" can be a peer-to-peer network comprising of visibility to an optional decentralized or centralized information exchange, which serves as a mechanism to creating visibility to service parts that might exist in a distribution channel. This process is particularly valuable in reducing the size of massive End of Component Life (EOCL) and Return Merchandise/Material Authorization (RMA) inventories that are used to replace pre- owned defective parts with pre-owned good parts to fulfill lifetime, extended, and post warranty obligations which often are bought in large quantities when a component manufacturer discontinues a particular component as a "lifetime" buy to fulfill under warranty, extended warranty, and post warranty fulfillment and service needs. The general rule for RMA (Return Merchandise/Material Authorization) fulfillment is equivalent or better, and for this reason visibility to inventories recaptured from the channel is particularly important, since "preowned" defective parts can often be replaced with "preowned" good parts when servicing warranty, extended warranty, and post warranty concerns. A peer-to-peer exchange application for the present invention will lower the amount of inventories required to be purchased by a System Seller at the time a component manufacturer discontinues a particular component by creating visibility to service stock that a "peer" or company in a similar line of business "may" wish to sell. This process is radically different than a traditional buy/sell auction portal, as it stresses products and services that a company "may" want to strike a bargain with, rather than those which comprise of products that a company definitely wants to sell and list on an auction portal such as End of Life, Excess, and Discontinued, and overstock inventories. Such a system could dramatically reduce the amount of spare-part inventories needed to be maintained by manufacturers by creating an efficient and alternate means whereby to procure spare parts in a spot market fashion even before the parts were removed from the whole. Furthermore, this process would lower the amount of service parts required to be maintained in inventory by system manufacturers, by creating visibilities to potential service parts in computers that are replaced as part of a new sale.

The present invention can also employ a "virtual dealer" fulfillment node application, which can serve as a means to consummate a large scale transaction within a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) node, or a plurality of Business-to-Business (B2B) segmented nodes. In such a model, a virtual dealer would serve as a multiplexer, which would distribute products out to a channel of end users or other buyers through a centralized aggregation and fulfillment node. For example, a B2B portal would list a particular allocation of 1000 computers through a virtual dealer, which would in turn list the lot of 1000 computers, as units of 1 or 2 on a plurality of other portals or commercial auction sites. Once buyers are identified, at the close of auction, the B2B Virtual Portal would ship product to the virtual dealer, which would fulfill the inventory to a plurality of buyers, and serve as a financial aggregation node. Optionally, the virtual dealer may take short term ownership interest in the 1000 computers and serve as a CRM (customer relationship management) node for questions, problems, or concerns that the buyer community may have with a particular purchase.

Figure 7 illustrates a asset recapture network block diagram according to one embodiment of the present invention. Strategic Account 705 is referred by a SystemSeller 710 to Recapture Service 715. Recapture Service 715 provides a variety of services that allow the strategic account to recapture the value of a commodity that it seeks to dispose of so that Account 705 may purchase equipment from Seller 710. For example, Service 715 may provide asset maximization strategies among other services (e.g., warranties, refurbishment) which are described below which will dictate how Account 705 's commodity is sold or auctioned via Virtual Dealer 720 or through direct selling operations (not shown) to purchasers 725.

The invention benefits the Strategic Account customer/seller by allowing technology asset recovery maximization without substantial investment, focus or effort. In addition, the invention allows for rapid recovery of already owned technology assets before obsolescence affects market value. Moreover, the invention ensures that the seller receive valid payment through the escrow or financial delay service. For the buyer, the invention allows visibility of spot market opportunities throughout the supply chain. The portal may have a "catalog" offering, where visibility of spot market opportunities will be developed through a catalog like representation of pre-owned assets and components over a web portal. Such a catalog can be created in one embodiment through a peer-to- peer network mechanism. It also allows for timely opportunity before obsolescence affects the marketability of products. For example, instead of sitting in a warehouse for a few months or years, the product is rapidly sold within hours or weeks through the Virtual Portal, because the auction closes. Additionally, the invention ensures that the product as represented is acceptable before payment through the portal escrow or financial delay system.

The invention also provides a lucrative opportunity for the Virtual Portal by providing a revenue stream through the transaction fee. The portal may also receive revenue through value added services such as extended warranties, and most importantly through consulting by high technology secondary market experts who decide how best to value maximize an existing technology asset. The present invention may employ a plurality of optional services which can be integrated or offered in parallel with the present invention as part of the suite of services available to a potential user of the present invention. Figure 8 illustrates various additional services provided by an asset recovery exchange according to one embodiment of the present invention. Besides the fundamental asset recovery strategy 805, an asset recovery exchange can also provide transportation and integration services 810, B2B auctions 820, B2C auctions 825, financial services 830, virtual branding 835, linking to other exchanges 840, and warehousing 845. A more concise description of these services is provided below.

RECAPTURE SERVICES

1. B2B Hi-Tech Asset Maximization Services

Means that ReCapture will offer a service that maximizes the cash value on old computer assets or other types of assets for Strategic accounts. a. B2B Auctioning Strategy and Execution

ReCapture will be the world's first global "hi-tech secondary market consulting firm" through this "value added" service. Through the B2B Auctioning Strategy and Execution service, ReCapture will select and administer the best B2B marketplace on which to sell a particular type of product, subassembly, or service (e.g., Memory might be sold on Buckaroo.com, the hard drive might be sold through e2open, the whole unit computer might be sold on eHitex, the landfill shift service might be negotiated on the landfill exchange. It should be noted that in this service, ReCapture will also consider selling B2C and C2C mechanisms (Yahoo, eBay, ReCapture) and will also consider non- internet means of negotiation when it is prudent, and there does not exist a B2B marketplace mature enough to handle the particular needs of a consummation sale. b. Refurbishment Services

ReCapture will "resell" refurbishment services (boxing, operating system install, testing, painting of case, etc.) to a Strategic Account or Manufacturer. In this step, a backend company such as HMR, Rfrazier, or Teleplan may bid for the service through an exchange portal, or ReCapture may prenegotiate a preset partner. However, there will be one face to the customer, that being ReCapture. c. Inspection Services

ReCapture will "resell" inspection services done by a company like SGS or Bureau Veritas. ReCapture will also define the inspection process necessary to SGS or Bureau Veritas. For example, a Strategic Account may want to ensure that data is really off a particular group of computers, and ReCapture may define a process whereby Bureau Veritas "spot checks" computers that have been data cleansed by a partner such as HMR, Rfrazier, or Teleplan. Another inspection service might be for ReCapture partners such as TradeUps.com wishing to ensure that a particular group of computers brought back from a Strategic Account are as represented by the Strategic Account. TradeUps might want to do this in advance of ensuring payment on a "one quote" trade-up program (e.g., $2000 less $200 for a trade in price guaranteed by ReCapture (TradeUps), so that the purchase amount will be $1800 after mail-in Rebate.) d. Reverse Logistics Services ReCapture will "resell" reverse logistics services such as picking up computer products from the desks of Strategic Account locations worldwide, providing "data cleansing" services, providing transportation services, disassembly services, warehousing services, etc. The backend partner who will actually do this work will be HMR, Teleplan, and Rfrazier in Phase I. e. Market Maker Services

ReCapture will "resell" the market maker service of TradeUps and Rfrazier, which basically is a blue book for a price that a particular broker will buy as many computers as he/she can acquire for a fixed session of time (e.g., Rfrazier might agree to buy as many P166s as it can get at $150 for the next 3 weeks, and ReCapture may offer $140 for these units to a company using this service.) f. Warranty Services

ReCapture will "resell" warranty services of WarrantyNOW, potentially through a split part commission. Selling even a 10-day warranty may help to increase return on a particular asset during auction.

2. Off-Lease Services

Recapture will offer this "value added" segment specific service to leasing companies (such as GE) and manufacturers with internal leasing programs (such as Hitachi, Compaq, and Gateway) to handle computers returned from lease. These services may include the ones described in the B2B Asset Maximization services above. A service specific to this audience may include "re-lease" service, in which products returned from lease are found a new leaseholder through a B2B exchange.

3. Charity Services

ReCapture will offer this "value added" segment specific service to Strategic Accounts (educational, government, large corporations) and Manufacturers to liquidate into cash computers that are to be given to charity, and payout the liquid value of the computers or a segment of the liquid value to a non-profit organization. This will rid the problem of schools and other non-profit organizations being burdened by unneeded obsolete computers. Instead, non-profits and schools will receive cash donations, since the hi-tech asset would be converted to cash before donation. ReCapture Charity services may include the ones described in the B2B Asset Maximization services above. A service specific to this audience may include "cash-before liquidation" service and charity portfolio management services, in which may be tied to Philanthropy divisions of companies wishing to give old computer assets to charity.

4. Reverse Logistics Services

ReCapture will "resell" reverse logistics services such as picking up computer products from a the desks of Strategic Account locations worldwide, providing "data cleansing" services, providing transportation services, disassembly services, warehousing services, etc. The backend partner who will actually do this work will be Ewa, Teleplan, and Rfrazier in Phase I. a. Data Cleansing ReCapture will "resell" this service (backend partner Teleplan, Rfrazier, HMR). This service is for making sure that data is gone from hard drives within old computers and other storage media in old computers prior to sale. For example, Chevron may wish to make sure that confidential data is removed from old computers being replaced with new ones, prior to allowing ReCapture to sell a particular asset. b. Packaging

ReCapture will "resell" this service (backend partner Teleplan, Rfrazier, HMR). This service is for putting computers in boxes prior to sale. For example, Chevron may not have boxes in which to pack old computers, and may wish a courier to come out and pack and pickup the computers at global Chevron sites (similar to a moving company). c. Transportation

ReCapture will "resell" this service (backend partner eHITEX Transportation (Celarix.com), Teleplan, Rfrazier, HMR). This service is for transporting old computer products. For example, Chevron may wish to have ReCapture handle all transportation of computer products being picked up. In addition, a buyer might wish to have ReCapture optimize the price of transportation. The assumption is that the buyer will pay for the freight. However, through the eHITEX B2B transportation bidding engine, which will be in production 12/15, a buyer may be able to optimize the price of freight through ReCapture. d. Customs/International

ReCapture will "resell" this service (backend partner eHITEX International team, Teleplan, HMR). This service is for clearing customs for old computer products. For example, Chevron's computers may be globally located, but the buyer may be in the Philippines. In addition, a Seller such as Chevron might wish to have ReCapture optimize the price of customs clearance for a hi-tech asset. Through the eHITEX International Team, ReCapture may be able to help Chevron aggregate their old computer assets globally in preparation for a sale. On the buyer side, the assumption is that the buyer will pay for the freight, and handle customs clearance. e. Segmentation

ReCapture will provide a "value added" service for the strategy element of this service and "resell" the physical segmentation (backend partner R Frazier, Teleplan, MAR). This service is for maximizing the value on a particular group of old computers by segmenting the lot into excellent condition marketable hardware, excellent condition obsolete hardware, defective lot with good components, and defective lot. ReCapture's strategy team will figure out the best method of selling a particular asset by examining a bill of material, looking for RFQ (request for Quote) EOCL buy opportunities at Founders, and searching the ReCapture Peer-to-peer visibility engine). f. Warranty Services ReCapture will "resell" warranty services of WarrantyNOW, potentially through a split part commission. Selling even a 10 day warranty may help to increase return on a particular asset during auction. CONSIGNMENT BASED SERVICES aa. Disassembly bb. Subassembly management cc. Warehousing dd. Refurbishment services

ReCapture will resell "consignment based" services for Disassembly, Subassembly management, and warehousing. Basically, consignment services mean that the Strategic Account will retain ownership interest until a buyer is found (backend partners are Teleplan, HMR, and Rfrazier).

5. Market Pulse Services

Means that ReCapture will offer these "value added" services that will figure out the current, or most recent available market price of a type of old computer asset. The backend ReCapture partner Auction Watch, which constantly monitors and catalogs auctions on eBay, Yahoo, and Amazon can achieve this. In addition to this, ReCapture will gauge the current wholesale, dealer, and end-user market price for a particular lot of old computers. This might help a Strategic Account determine what Reserve price to keep for a particular asset. a. B2C Market Gauge Services

ReCapture will offer this "value added" service for gauging market price on eBay, Yahoo, Amazon, and ReCapture.com (backend partner Auctionwatch). b. Virtual Dealer Services

ReCapture will "resell" this service to other B2B exchange portals, manufacturers and strategic accounts. Basically, a virtual dealer is a way that ReCapture can reach a broad set of end users without having the B2B exchange or manufacturer deal with questions and problems that end- user buyers may have (backend partner Auctionwatch, teamed with a large dealer that Auctionwatch selects). c. Inspection Services

ReCapture will "resell" inspection services done by a company like SGS or Bureau Veritas. ReCapture will also define the inspection process necessary to SGS or Bureau Veritas. For example, a Strategic Account may want to ensure that data is really off a particular group for computers, and ReCapture may define a process whereby Bureau Veritas "spot checks" computers that have been data cleansed by a partner such as HMR, Rfrazier, or Teleplan. Another inspection service might be for ReCapture partners such as TradeUps.com wishing to ensure that a particular group of computers brought back from a Strategic Account are as represented by the Strategic Account. TradeUps might want to do this in advance of ensuring payment on a "one quote" trade-up program (e.g., $2000 less $200 for a trade in price guaranteed by ReCapture (TradeUps), so that the purchase amount will be $1800 after mail-in Rebate.) d. Reverse Logistics Services

ReCapture will "resell" reverse logistics services such as picking up computer products from the desks of Strategic Account locations worldwide, providing "data cleansing" services, providing transportation services, disassembly services, warehousing services, etc. The backend partner who will actually do this work will be HMR, Teleplan, and Rfrazier in Phase I. e. Market Maker Services

ReCapture will "resell" the market maker service of TradeUps and RFrazier, which basically is a blue book for a price that a particular broker will buy as many computers as he/she can acquire for a fixed session of time (e.g., R Frazier might agree to buy as many P166s as it can get at $150 for the next 3 weeks, and ReCapture may offer $140 for these units to a company using this service). f. Warranty Services

ReCapture will "resell" warranty services of WarrantyNOW, potentially through a split part commission. Selling even a 10-day warranty may help to increase return on a particular asset during auction. g. Classifieds Posting

ReCapture will offer this "value added" service to B2B auction engines, manufacturers, end users, and anyone wishing to sell old computer assets. ReCapture.com will become the largest, segmented marketplace to buy and sell used computers and peripherals (backend technology partner ECMarket). This is following a print newspaper classifieds section model, in which there is no micro- management of the auction, but simply a charge per line.

6. Manufacturer Services

ReCapture will offer this "value added" service for computer manufacturers such as HP, Compaq, Cisco, Juniper and Gateway. Manufacturer Services include "virtual branding" and cobranding services for Trade Ins (e.g., HP Tradeln program, Cisco Recapture program, etc.). a. TradeUp services (one quote)

ReCapture will offer this "value added" service of offering a "one-quote" trade-up price. For example HP might be able to sell a computer for $1700 ($2000 less $300 trade-in rebate) through this program. ReCapture will use TradeUps as a backend partner to offer this service. b. Asset Maximization Services

ReCapture will be the world's first global "hi-tech secondary market consulting firm" through this "value added" service. Through the B2B Auctioning Strategy and Execution service, ReCapture will select and administer the best B2B marketplace on which to sell a particular type of product, subassembly, or service (e.g., Memory might be sold on Buckaroo.com, the hard drive might be sold through e2open, the whole unit computer might be sold on eHITEX, and the landfill shift service might be negotiated on the landfill exchange. It should be noted that in this service, ReCapture will also consider selling B2C and C2C mechanisms (Yahoo, eBay, ReCapture) and will also consider non-internet means of negotiation when it is prudent, and there does not exist a B2B marketplace mature enough to handle the particular needs of a consummation sale. c. EOCL RMA Visibility Services (peer-to-peer services)*

ReCapture will offer this "value added" service and related integration/consulting services for tying into EOCL (end of component life) inventories at computer Manufacturers. ReCapture will utilize Groove Networks as a technology partner to develop the Peer-to-peer connectivity application. Visibility to ReCaptured stocks from Strategic Accounts would be dynamically linked as a peer to this service. d. Refurbishment Services

ReCapture will "resell" refurbishment services (boxing, operating system install, testing, painting of case, etc.) to a Strategic Account or Manufacturer. In this step, a backend company such as HMR, Rfrazier, or Teleplan may bid for the service through an exchange portal, or ReCapture may prenegotiate a preset partner. However, there will be one face to the customer, that being ReCapture. e. Inspection Services

ReCapture will "resell" inspection services done by a company like SGS or Bureau Veritas. ReCapture will also define the inspection process necessary to SGS or Bureau Veritas. For example, a Strategic Account may want to ensure that data is really off a particular group for computers, and ReCapture may define a process whereby Bureau Veritas "spot checks" computers that have been data cleansed by a partner such as HMR, Rfrazier, or Teleplan. Another inspection service might be for ReCapture partners such as TradeUps.com wishing to ensure that a particular group of computers brought back from a Strategic Account are as represented by the Strategic Account. TradeUps might want to do this in advance of ensuring payment on a "one quote" trade-up program (e.g., $2000 less $200 for a trade in price guaranteed by ReCapture (TradeUps), so that the purchase amount will be $ 1800 after mail-in Rebate.) f. Reverse Logistics Services

ReCapture will "resell" reverse logistics services such as picking up computer products from the desks of Strategic Account locations worldwide, providing "data cleansing" services, providing transportation services, disassembly services, warehousing services, etc. The backend partner who will actually do this work will be HMR, Teleplan, and Rfrazier in Phase I. f. Market Maker Services

ReCapture will "resell" the market maker service of TradeUps and RFrazier, which basically is a blue book for a price that a particular broker will buy as many computers as he/she can acquire for a fixed session of time (e.g., R Frazier might agree to buy as many PI 66s as it can get at $150 for the next 3 weeks, and Recapture may offer $140 for these units to a company using this service.) g. Warranty Services

ReCapture will "resell" warranty services of WarrantyNOW, potentially through a split part commission. Selling even a 10-day warranty may help to increase return on a particular asset during auction. h. Destruction Services

ReCapture will "value add" the strategic element of this service negotiating the proper destruction service provider through a B2B service exchange, and "resell" the physical destruction service (partner Accushred). This service is valuable when a particular computer asset is totally defective, with very little non-scrap value and high inventory storage costs, i. Landfill shift Services

ReCapture will "value add" the strategic element of this service negotiating the proper landfill service provider through a B2B service exchange, and "resell" the physical environmentally safe landfill disposal service. This service is valuable when a particular computer asset is hazardous waste and has very little non-scrap value and high inventory storage costs.

The invention provides many advantages to all the parties involved in the transaction. The NewSeller benefits because they are able to directly compete with the computer dealer and offer value added services such as installation and data transfer fees. This would effectively significantly increase the profitability of NewSeller, by shifting it from a mere commodities merchant to a value added service provider, such as upgrades and installation services. In addition, this invention will allow NewSellers to sell more new technology infrastructure and rapidly capture market share of their competitors by offering additional value added solutions to their customers and thereby building a closer relationship to their Strategic Accounts in solving the Strategic Account's technology problems and needs.

The invention benefits the Strategic Account customer/seller by allowing technology asset recovery maximization without substantial investment, focus or effort. In addition, the invention allows for rapid recovery of already owned technology assets before obsolescence affects market value. Moreover, the invention ensures that the seller receives valid payment through the escrow or financial delay service. Total cost of ownership in capital assets would be reduced at Strategic Accounts, thereby translating into lower fixed and variable costs of operation; which could ultimately translate into higher profitability for Strategic Accounts. Furthermore, IT budgets at Strategic Accounts could also significantly increase by recapturing value of previously purchased technology infrastructure. The invention allows a means whereby the Strategic Accounts can work with the NewSeller to not only buy new replacement technology infrastructure, but to recapture and maximize recovery of previously purchased infrastructure through a high technology Virtual Portal. The NewSeller would effectively be compensated through split commissions by the high technology Virtual Portal for serving as a CRM node (customer relationship management) between the Strategic Account wishing to get rid of existing computer infrastructure in preparation for buying new technology infrastructure. The Strategic Account will benefit by recapturing the value of previously purchased technology infrastructure, thereby creating more cash with which to invest in new technology infrastructure. The NewSeller would benefit by ridding the Strategic Account of its old technology, so that the road is clear for selling new technology infrastructure a market in which the NewSeller focuses. Moreover, NewSeller benefits from a new revenue stream by being compensated through split commissions with the internet Virtual Portal for serving as a customer relationship management node, aiding the portal in reverse logistics optimization strategy, and for facilitating the sale of new computer infrastructure. This would allow cash flow positions and market focus efforts to be streamlined at the NewSeller, without shifting and destabilizing corporate focus from selling new hardware to selling older generation hardware.

The internet Virtual Portal will benefit from the present invention because it will allow a means to capture new revenue streams from commission sale fees, with potentially high-value add service offerings comprising extended warranties, and consulting fees allowing for higher gross profit margins through transaction based revenues for the Virtual Portal.

The Buyers will benefit from the present invention because it will allow a centralized means whereby to procure and gain visibility to spot market opportunities through the invention's posting and catalog visibility mechanism. This will allow for greater efficiencies in the global marketplace, and create a whole new way of intermediaries to procure, buy, and sell secondary market spot market opportunities through a web mechanism since now they will gain catalog visibility to subcomponent spot market opportunities that was virtually impossible to do in a non-internet world. It also allows for timely opportunity to sell products within hours or weeks before obsolescence affects the marketability of products sitting in a warehouse for months or years. Lastly, the invention ensures that the product as represented is acceptable before payment through the portal escrow or financial delay system.

The natural environment will benefit from the present invention because it will create a means whereby to minimize waste and disposal through virtual recycle and reuse type services created as a result of the present invention's method of asset recovery maximization through reverse logistics optimization techniques. Instead of products which still have uses to some people ending up in landfills, they will be effectively reused and recycled until they are truly defective or no longer useful to anyone.

There is a huge indirect benefit with the present invention in the total cost of manufacturing products. Through the present invention, the total cost of manufacturing high-tech products will drop dramatically, by allowing a mechanism whereby to sell through pre-purchased manufacturing equipment through an internet Virtual Portal. To understand this, consider the following example. Suppose Applied Materials sells Hewlett Packard company the new Robo4000 robot for $50 million, capable of manufacturing 4000 laserjet motherboards in an hour in 1994. In 1995, Hitachi Automation Group comes out with the SuperDuper5000, a high-speed robot, capable of manufacturing 10,000 laserjet motherboards in 1 hour for $45 million. Hitachi Automation wants to sell the new SuperDuper5000 to Hewlett Packard, and Hewlett Packard wants to buy it, however Hewlett Packard has no idea what to do with the old Applied Materials Robo4000 it just bought a year previously for $50 million. In the current system, often times Hewlett Packard makes a cost trade off decision, and either decides to not buy the SuperDuper5000, or buy it and sell the Robo4000 for scrap for $5 million. Suppose there is a company like Beijing Industries in China that would love to own a Robo4000, since that company doesn't need to manufacturer 10,000 motherboards an hour, and would be perfectly happy to buy a Robo4000 for $20 million. Because Hewlett Packard doesn't know that Beijing Industries has this need, nor does its distribution channel touch and concern a supply chain of intermediary manufacturing equipment since HP is not in that business (HP is in the computer and printer business), Hewlett Packard's perception of the value of the Robo4000 is only $5 million. However, the supply chain system of Hitachi does touch and concern intermediary manufacturing equipment, since Hitachi's core business is intermediary manufacturing equipment. Maybe Hitachi Automation knows that Beijing Industries and a few other companies have a need for something like the Robo4000, and better understands the bill of materials optimization strategies than does the Virtual Portal. Suppose that a Supply Chain Director at Beijing Industries inquired to Hitachi earlier in the year whether Hitachi had a solution that could manufacture 4000 motherboards an hour for around $20 million. Hitachi previously had said no they don't have a new solution that fits that customer need, but had kept that information in a knowledge database. By giving Hitachi an incentive to refer this opportunity and to serve as a CRM (customer relationship management) node and asset recovery optimization consultant, eHitex will allow a mechanism whereby Hitachi can make money on referring the potential bidders of an Applied Materials Robo4000 through an internet Virtual Portal without ever taking ownership! Suppose Hitachi knows that by parting out the Robo4000, the parts could potentially draw higher returns than selling the whole Robo4000, since the Robo4000's parts are similar but different to the Hitachi SuperDuper5000. During the reverse logistics asset recovery maximization stage, such domain information from Hitachi might help to add insight as to the strategy needed to best asset maximize the Robo4000, and will potentially help increase split commission structures flowing back to Hitachi. If Hitachi were to receive 2% for serving as a CRM (customer relationship management) and reverse logistics optimization consultant node, a sale of the Robo4000 from HP to Beijing Industries would translate into a $400,000 pure revenue opportunity for Hitachi, which might flow directly into the company's profitability, since it would be a "pure revenue stream". "Pure revenue stream" is a term of art in the high tech industry in which there are no costs of associated manufacture or warranty. Because the ownership will be transferred directly from HP to Beijing Industries, warranty representations if any would be the responsibility of HP! HP might decide to sell the Robo4000 as is, or might decide to offer a 20-day warranty. Additionally, HP might negotiate with eHitex to shift the warranty burden to eHitex in exchange for a higher commission rate (e.g., eHitex might keep 15% rather than 10% of recovery value and offer a 1 year extended warranty). On the back end, eHitex might decide to outsource a third party service provider to account for the service requirements that Beijing Industries might have during the 1 year, rather than manage the service directly. Manufacturing equipment such as the Robo4000 is highly specialized. Though such offerings might be posted on a general internet Virtual Portal and bid upon such as Freemarkets.com, this often times will not happen for three main reasons. First, the burden shifts to Hewlett Packard to go to Freemarkets or other current vertical exchanges and consolidate, ship, and manage the sale of the Robo4000. HP doesn't want to do this because it defocuses HP from their goal of manufacturing printer motherboards at 10,000 units an hour. Second, Freemarkets and other vertical exchanges may not have the larger and expanded target bidder community that can be had through the present invention because of the added referrals from Hitachi. Third, Freemarkets and other vertical exchanges do not have the ability to "chop up" the Robo4000 nor does it have Hitachi as an expert consultant to help it decide how best to recovery maximize the Robo4000 by breaking it up into parts. Because Hitachi Industries are in the best position to know who customers are in this particular market segment, they are in the best position of referring potential bidders and reverse logistics asset recovery strategies to an internet exchange bidding portal like eHitex. Through bidding up against other customers who might be interested in the Robo4000, Beijing Industries ends up paying $24 million for the Robo4000, which Beijing Industries might still find as a good buy. By splitting the commission structure with Hitachi, additional bidder segments may become identified that previously were very difficult for a general B2B Virtual Portal to identify and asset recovery could better be maximized by leveraging Hitachi's direct domain expertise in finding asset maximization methodologies. Additional bidder segments referred from Hitachi would added to the existing ones connected either directly or virtually into an eHitex Virtual Portal. Previous to this invention, this methodology and service offering would be virtually impossible for Hitachi Automation to undertake. Hitachi Automation would probably not want to take ownership of the Robo4000 because it is made by another manufacturer, and would potentially confuse its distribution strategy and destabilize the company. Furthermore, because of the limited number of customers for such manufacturing equipment, Hitachi Automation would have previously probably had to assume ownership interest in the old Robo4000. Inventory carrying costs for such equipment is very high, since such equipment requires frequent maintenance and rapidly devalues. Furthermore, Hitachi would have no guarantee of making money from buying up the Robo4000. The present invention allows Hitachi to better leverage its core competency as a "expert" in the intermediary manufacturing equipment world by offering a "consulting" service, without ever taking ownership of the Robo4000! Furthermore, Hitachi's ability to help eHitex in finding best asset recovery strategy and in building a larger bidder pool at the internet Virtual Portal in the "connection" of finding the best place for the Robo4000 would allow it to make money without ever taking ownership of the Robo4000! This could dramatically create huge new profitability opportunities for Hitachi. Let's examine the scenario with the Robo4000 described in the previous paragraph from Hewlett Packard's perspective. From Hewlett Packard's perspective, $19.2 million for the Robo4000 ($22 million less 10% commission) rather than $5 million as it previously would have recovered before the present invention would result in a supply chain savings of $14.2 million! This savings would translate into allowing Hewlett Packard to manufacturer LaserJet printers for less money because HP's total investment in fixed costs of manufacturing would effectively be reduced by $14.2 million. This would translate into lower costs of LaserJet manufacturing, and would yield lower costs of high-technology printers for consumers! Ultimately, more people in the world could gain the benefit of computers, the Internet, and printers since owning technology would become cheaper and cheaper!

It should also be indicated in the present invention a "low touch" auction engine or virtual integration to a B2C portal low touch auction engine. A low touch auction engine is similar to that of a "classifieds" posting board in a traditional newspaper. An electronic version of such a "classifieds" posting system is herein being referred to as a "low touch auction" engine. If such a low touch auction were incorporated into the present invention, true optimization of returns could be seen in the present invention asset maximization. For example, suppose a high tech asset consisted of three components, a microprocessor (A), a LCD screen (B), hard drive (C), and everything else (D). Suppose the values of these components are respectively A, B, C and D. Suppose X is the value of the whole system containing the microprocessor, LCD screen, hard drive, and everything else. A low touch auction engine is generally utilized by consumers rather than businesses. For this reason, a potential low touch buyer would have interest primarily in X rather than A, B, C, D individually. However, a business in the market of parts may have use for A, B, C, or D or any combination of these components. For this reason, let's relate the following formula:

A + B + C + D = X (the parts A,B,C,D make up the whole which is X)

However, the value of A, B, C, D might actually be much more than X (e.g., A might be worth $70, B might be worth $40, C might be worth $25 and D might be worth $15). However, X might be only worth $90 as a whole unit. By integrating a low touch auction engine in the present invention, the present invention can dynamically increase and decrease a potential reserve price for System X made specifically clear in the terns of contract within the scope of the low touch auction engine and its consumer users. In such a system, if a buyer for A were found at $70 and a buyer for C were found at $25, and a buyer for D were found for $15, the total recovery of the parts before the close of auction could potentially be $110, rather than $90 for the whole X. Therefore, a bidder who initially met reserve at $90 may find that the parts won the auction instead of the whole being sold. It should be noted that System X buyers often times are not just consumers, but large and medium resellers, dealers, brokers and other such intermediaries. For this reason, integration of a low touch capability in the present invention is extremely important. The invention provides this incentive by providing a reverse logistics opportunity for manufacturers without changing the current logistics processes at, e.g., high technology companies. The invention allows for the capture of a growing market need as more and more manufacturers move from a dealer/distributor model to a direct sales model. Generally, the invention reflects a method for maximizing asset recovery through a web-based portal which is connected virtually to other portals, the method comprising identifying a seller of a product using a referrer, wherein the referrer intends to sell its products or services to the seller; linking the seller to the portal for a reverse logistics optimization, break up, and sale of the product or sale of its internal parts to maximize asset recovery; identifying potential buyer(s) of the product or its internal parts; targeting the sale of the product or parts to the buyer(s); and transferring a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the product or parts to the referrer.

The operation of a system providing network based sales and/or auctions (network-based exchange system) is generally known, making the above description sufficient to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention. Nevertheless, the general architecture of a network-based exchange system is described below. According to one embodiment of the present invention the network-based exchange system is a portal accessible via the Internet or some other network or internetwork.

Figure 13 is a block diagram of an electronic network-based exchange system according to one embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the general architecture used is a client/server architecture. Client/server architectures, per se, are generally known. As shown in Figure 13, the server side comprises an exchange provider 1300, which may further comprise at least one database 1330, exchange processor 1320, internal proxy 1340, listing 1360, and external proxy 1350. Exchange provider 1300 is connected to one or more clients 1370 via network 1310.

If desired, exchange provider 1300 may include at least two portions. In a preferred embodiment, exchange provider 1300 consists of two portions. The first portion comprises an internal portion 1301, which may include database 1330, exchange provider 1320, and internal proxy 1340. The second portion comprises external portion 1303, which may include listing 1360 and external proxy 1350. Internal portion 1301 may be separated by security means 1302 from external portion 1303. Security means 1302 may be a firewall or similar security providing device to prevent unauthorized access to certain portions of the server side component.

Database 1330 is a primary data storage mechanism and communicates with internal proxy 1340. It is responsible for storing data and other information relating to system operation. Such information may include, system parameters, item records, account information, exchange accounting information and other information. Database 1330 may be any conventional database, including multiple databases or distributed databases.

Exchange processor 1320 is a controller that performs the function of managing the exchange or auction. Any suitable controller may be used. Exchange processor 1320 communicates directly with internal proxy 1340. Processor 1320 receives bids, processes the bids and reports out to the internal proxy.

Internal proxy 1340, which itself may be a server, may be used to sanitize, authenticate, filter and route communications and assist in the clearing process. Proxies, per se, are generally known. According to one embodiment, internal proxy 1340 communicates directly with database 1330 and exchange processor 1320, and may link internal portion 1301 to external proxy 1350 or other components of the informal portion 1303. More than one internal proxy 1340 may be provided. Preferably, clients cannot directly access the internal proxy. Proxy 1340 maybe on a firewall.

Listing 1360, which may be a database, web server or other suitable mechanism provides information about commodities or constituent parts listed for exchange. Listing 1360 is client accessible via external proxy 1350 and network 1310. One or more than one listing 1360 may be provided per exchange.

External proxy 1350 is responsible for security, filtering, and routing. External proxy 1350 communicates with internal proxy 1340, listing 1360, and network 1310. One or more than one external proxy 1350 may be provided per exchange. External proxy 1350 prevents direct client access to the internal portion 1301. It may be used to prevent unwanted or undesired information from entering the exchange.

Network 1310 may be any medium (wired or wireless) that allows for communications between components of the invention (e.g., clients and servers) and need not be homogeneous throughout the communications paths of the invention.

Figure 14 illustrates a process for configuring and operating a network exchange in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. It is assumed that the host has been configured. In process 1400, the mode of operation of the exchange is specified 1401. For example, it is specified how the exchange will work and what rules it will work under. Information that may be entered during this phase may include, inter alia, the start and stop time for the exchange, the categorization of the commodity provided by seller and how it is to be sold as indicated by the asset recovery strategy (e.g., whole units, parts, scrap, raw material scrap, hazardous wastes, by geographic region, targeted sales, global offering, sales in multiple forms or manners, etc.) the aspects of the exchange that will be "open" and those that will be "closed," whether there will be public or private access to negotiations, and whether or not seller intervention will be allowed. Other rules and terms may be specified. This information is stored in the server and used to control a given exchange.

Commodity information is entered 1405 by the exchange operator. The term commodity or item can include constituent parts of a commodity provided by a seller to the operator or whole units or fractions of whole units of a commodity provided by the seller. This information may include identification of a new commodity or modification of an existing listing by an authorized person. Such information may include system required administrative information such as exchange rules (parameters for that item) seller identification, identification of the item, a major and/or minor classification, pricing information, and other terms. Other options available to a seller client include the ability to search/list items, modify/remove items, intervene in an exchange (e.g., terminate bidding or an item listed by the seller), electronic chat, and reviewing the history/status of bids. If the client selects viewing an item by identifier (e.g., an alpha-numeric), the client may be prompted for the identifier that a particular item is assigned. The client may have retained this number from a previous session, or may have received the number via accessing the listing service. If the client enters a valid identifier, the buyer may be shown the item, information about the item, or both.

The listing information is made accessible 1410 to the public. This may include, without limitation, posting information on a world wide web page that the public can access, posting information to one or more geographic regions, posting information to offer constituent parts of the commodity as operable whole units, parts, scrap, raw material scrap, or hazardous wastes, and posting information on secondary portals, and posting information to offer the commodity in two or more forms selected from the following: whole units, parts, scrap, and raw material scrap. Additionally, an automatic identification may be used to send E-mail to potential purchasers. Other means of making the information accessible may also be used. The listing itself may include historical data (a list of commodities traded or listed in the past and associated transaction information), current listings and their status, and future listings (e.g., commodities scheduled to be offered, but for which bidding is not yet permitted). The listing may be searched by fields, keywords or other search techniques.

A potential purchaser or exchange partner accesses 1415 the exchange via a client terminal. The purchaser client is presented with a number of options. For example, the purchaser may search, obtain additional information, perform electronic chat (real-time or store/forward) bid and review (history/status). For example, the search function may enable the purchaser to search through the listing for items of interest. The purchaser may be provided with several fields of information that can be used to facilitate the search. These search fields may include classification (e.g., servers, minicomputers, mainframes, workstations, etc.), price, terms or other fields or key words. The system may return either an exact match, the closest match, or an entire classification for the client to browse through.

The client may have the capability of browsing through the database using standard navigational tools. These options allow the client to quickly advance and review through the database. Items may be displayed in various views and in various orders. Once a desired item(s) is identified, the buyer may obtain additional information about the listed item. For example, the client may be provided with a chat option. Chat enables electronic communication via the network and may provide the client with a real-time communication link with other buyers, the seller or the exchange host/operator. Further, if the rules of the exchange provide, the chat may be either public (i.e., everyone viewing that particular item will be able to see the chat such as in a chat room) or it may be private (i.e., no one except the involved parties can see the chat). This option may be one of the exchange parameters. Additional options may be provided to assist the client in managing the information. The client may be able to retrieve more information about a particular item that is being viewed. This may be useful when information for an item takes more than one screen to present. It may also allow the client to send an E-mail containing all of the information about the particular item being viewed to an E-mail address.

The potential purchaser may make a bid on an item that is currently being viewed and the information is processed 1420. Once bid is selected, the client may be provided with the current highest bid for the item, and a window entering the required information for making a bid. In order to be accepted, the bid must meet certain criteria. For example, the bid must be higher than the current highest bid. The system may have rules in place that allow only predetermined increments (e.g., $10, $100, $1000, $10,000, etc.) depending on the particular estimated cost of the item. Rules can be enforced on the client side and others can be enforced at the external proxy or internal proxy. This enforcement may also include the initial filtering of information. For example, if a bid placed is not higher than the current highest bid, the client may not transmit the bid. Alternatively, the nonqualifying bid may be dropped at the external proxy. Thus, unnecessary communications to the server are avoided.

In another embodiment of the invention, bids are not transmitted to the host if they are irrelevant. Irrelevant bids may be bids that are less than the current "best" bid. In order to determine if the bid is relevant or not, the system determines what the seller's goal is (price, location, etc.) and then determines if the bid is more desirable to the seller than the current "best" bid. If it is, it replaces the "best" bid and the seller may be notified of the new highest bid. If it is not, the bid is disregarded. Notification may include a bid identifier, an amount and other information.

New "best" bids may be broadcast to all participants in the exchange. If a potential purchaser owns the "best" bid, he may also be notified of this status.

The negotiations between the seller and all bidding parties are concluded 1425. Negotiations may be concluded by expiration of the predefined exchange time, through seller intervention, through a match being achieved or other events. In the event a commodity is offered for sale in two or more forms selected from whole units, parts, scrap, and raw material scrap, when negotiations are concluded the form that received the highest bid is the form in which the commodity is sold.

Clearing process is then performed 1430. According to one embodiment, this may be tied to a clearing bank. Clearing may be done in several fashions, including internal and external clearing, and is well known in the art and need not be described in detail here. Internal clearing occurs when there is very little or no chance for the clearing process to fail, such as when the system directly controls all commodities in question. When there is internal clearing, the integrity of every trade on the system is protected at all times; that is, the system provides insurance or a guarantee of the trade completion. It is not possible for a participant to default after a trade is arranged. Since internal clearing is processed in real-time, the clients involved may proceed to the next negotiation immediately. External clearing occurs when at least one commodity to be cleared requires dealing with external systems or where there is a possibility of failure during the clearing process.

Referring again to Figure 13, security is provided for this system at different levels. Any suitable means for providing security to the system may be used such as an encrypted stream-based network communication. Internal proxy component 1340 also has the critical duty of handling communications with systems external to the invention, and may employ additional security, protocols, and filters. The proxy's filters are based on any field in the protocol, but primarily will be based on the bid, ask, and item classification fields. It may be desirable to not have direct communication between client 1370 and exchange 1320. All communication destined for exchange 1320 is routed through proxies 1340 and 1350 to insure authorized and authenticated communication.

The external proxy 1350 has the ability to connect to external systems and retrieve information based upon an external protocol in order to extract information that another component requires. For instance, the external proxy 1350 handles incoming connections from client 1370 using the invention's protocol, and it also has the ability to handle incoming connections from other outside sources such as E-mail, CGI scripts, telephone, fax or secondary clients with secondary protocols.

An example of this is using a web page on the World Wide Web to display information about a lot for exchange. The external proxy 1350 can then extract appropriate information from the remote web page and pass this to listing service 1340 which in turn will pass information to database 1330 and exchange 1320 as needed. The information that is required to be extracted is information that is sufficient to allow for an exchange to take place. This information is then embedded using the invention's standard protocol so that it can be extracted. Therefore, it would be possible to use the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) comment tokens to wrap the invention's required information.

Figure 15 illustrates an exchange provider with additional processing capability according to one embodiment of the present invention. Referring to Figure 15, internal proxy 1340 and exchange processor 1320 are provided with additional processing. Box A represents the additional processing that applies to internal proxy 1340. These processes may include a clearing processor, such as a clearing bank, electronic data interchange (EDI). Box B represents the additional processing that applies to exchange processor 1320. These processes may include a partial matching processor, barter matching processor or a pooling processor. One or more of the internal or external proxy can be used for, among other things, verification of authenticity of bids, validity of bids (based on rules), filtering of bids for price, status/time, item identification and required information. Preferably, the internal proxy handles more advanced functions, including authorization, identification and final verifications. A single proxy may be used if desired. Two proxies permit load balancing. Processing may include routing of data and/or filtering, among other things.

Figure 16 illustrates a networked exchange coupled to multiple other networked exchanges according to one embodiment of the present invention. Referring to Figure 16, an example of how systems may interconnect is shown. In this embodiment, a plurality of exchange providers may be connected via network 1310. Exchange provider 1300 may actually host the exchange, and a plurality of exchange providers 1300 may interact via network 1310. The other exchange providers may be secondary dealer/distributor portals or exchanges, B2C exchanges, B2B exchanges, etc. In this manner, a Strategic Account, by dealing with the operator of exchange provider 1300, is able to provide for wide offering of its commodity on multiple specialized exchanges in addition to exchange provider 1300. Further, a plurality of clients 1370 may be able to access exchange provider 1300.

Figure 10 illustrates an asset recovery exchange and the various participants on the exchange according to one embodiment of the present invention. System 1000 includes an exchange 1010 that may list and trade commodities provided to exchange 1010 by customer 1070 who may have been referred to exchange 1010 by manufacturer 1080. Exchange 1010 trades through other exchanges 1015-1060 such as those operated by secondary dealers/distributors, foreign market brokers/dealers, parts dealers, raw materials dealers, commodities merchants, and scrap dealers. In an alternative embodiment, exchange 1010 may trade through other networked exchanges and through direct selling operations such as sales people making telephone calls, sending emails, and making regular print or other media advertisements, among other types of operations.

Thus, methods and apparatus for asset recovery have been described. Although the present invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments, it will be evident to one of ordinary skill in the art that various modifications and changes may be made to these embodiments without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the claims. Accordingly, the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.

Claims

What is claimed is;
1. A method for operating a networked asset recovery portal in which a commodity is traded from a seller to a purchaser by said portal, the method comprising: said seller identifying said commodity to said portal's operator; determining an asset recovery strategy for said commodity; and offering said commodity for sale on said portal in accordance with said asset recovery strategy.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said seller is referred to said portal's operator by a third party that is selling another commodity to said seller.
3. The method of claim 2, further comprising selling said commodity to said purchaser.
4. The method of claim 3, further comprising determining a commission earned by said portal operator based on a price paid for said commodity by said purchaser.
5. The method of claim 4, further comprising paying a fraction of said commission to said third party.
6. The method of claim 2, further comprising said third party negotiating an agreement with approval of said portal's operator with said seller for said portal to offer said commodity for sale.
7. The method of claim 2, further comprising said third party negotiating an agreement with said seller for said portal to offer said commodity for sale, said agreement including terms within certain pre-approved parameters specified by said portal's operator.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising said seller entering into a contract with said portal's operator for sale of said commodity on said portal.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein said sale is an auction.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising said seller consigning said commodity to said portal's operator.
11. The method of claim 1, further comprising selling said commodity to said purchaser.
12. The method of claiml 1, wherein selling includes auctioning said commodity to said purchaser.
13. The method of claim 11 , further comprising determining a commission earned by said portal operator based on a price paid for said commodity by said purchaser.
14. The method of claim 13, further comprising paying a fraction of said commission to said third party.
15. The method of claim 1 , wherein determining said asset recovery strategy includes determining condition of said commodity.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: when said condition of said commodity is such that said commodity is to be sold as parts, obtaining a bill of materials of said commodity, and offering constituent parts of said commodity for sale over said portal.
17. e method of claim 15, further comprising, when said condition of said commodity is such that said commodity is to be sold as whole units, determining whether said commodity is at least one of being newer and more functional than similar commodities available in a certain geographic region.
18. The method of claim 17, further comprising, when said commodity is at least one of being newer and more functional than said similar commodities in said certain geographic region, offering said commodity in said certain geographic region in a targeted manner.
19. The method of claim 17, further comprising, when said commodity is at least one of being older and less functional than said similar commodities in said certain geographic region, offering said commodity in an alternative geographic region different from said certain geographic region.
20. The method of claim 17, further comprising, when said commodity is at least one of being older and less functional than said similar commodities in said certain geographic region, offering constituent parts of said commodity for sale on said portal.
21. The method of claim 17, further comprising, when said commodity is at least one of being older and less functional than said similar commodities in said certain geographic region , offering said commodity through another portal.
22. The method of claim 17, further comprising, when said commodity is at least one of being older and less functional than said similar commodities in said certain geographic region , offering said commodity directly to consumers.
23. The method of claim 15, further comprising, when said condition of said commodity is such that said commodity is to be sold as whole units, offering said commodity over a global web community.
24. The method of claim 15, further comprising, when said condition of said commodity is such that said commodity is defective, determining a bill of materials for said commodity.
25. The method of claim 24, further comprising, offering defective constituent components of said commodity to a scrap market by way of said portal.
26. The method of claim 24, further comprising, offering raw material scrap of said commodity to raw material merchants by way of said portal.
27. The method of claim 24, further comprising, offering hazardous waste constituent parts of said commodity to a waste disposal operator by way of said portal.
28. The method of claim 1 , wherein offering for sale on said portal occurs when said asset recovery strategy indicates that asset recovery is greater via the portal than through direct selling to at least one of a secondary dealer and market.
29. The method of claim 28, wherein determining said asset recovery strategy includes determining condition of said commodity.
30. The method of claim 29, further comprising, when said condition of said commodity is such that said commodity is defective, determining a bill of materials for said commodity.
31. The method of claim 30, further comprising, offering defective constituent components of said commodity to a scrap market.
32. The method of claim 30, further comprising, offering raw material scrap of said commodity to raw material merchants.
33. The method of claim 1, wherein offering said commodity for sale includes offering said commodity for sale in multiple forms selected from at least one of whole units, constituent parts, scrap, and raw scrap material.
34. The method of claim 33, further comprising receiving at least one offer for each of said multiple forms.
35. The method of claim 34, wherein one of said multiple forms receives a highest offer greater than offers received by other of said multiple forms, further comprising selling said commodity as one of said multiple forms that received said highest offer.
36. The method of claim 1, wherein offering said commodity for sale includes offering said commodity for sale in multiple ways selected from at least one of offering said commodity in an alternative geographic region different from a certain geographic region, offering constituent parts of commodity for sale on said portal, offering said commodity to businesses through another portal, and offering said commodity directly to consumers through yet another portal.
37. The method of claim 36, further comprising receiving at least one offer for each of said multiple ways.
38. The method of claim 37, wherein one of said multiple ways receives a highest offer greater than offers received by other of said multiple ways, further comprising selling said commodity in one of said multiple ways that received said highest offer.
39. A networked asset recovery portal coupled to multiple client terminals in which a commodity is traded from a seller to a purchaser at one of said multiple client terminals by said portal, said portal comprising: a database that stores exchange information about how said commodity is to be traded on said portal, wherein said exchange information is derived from an asset recovery strategy for said commodity; a listing that contains a description of and a term of sale for said commodity; and an exchange processor that is adapted to communicate said description and the term of sale with said one of said multiple client terminals and to trade said commodity in accordance with said exchange information retrieved from said database.
40. The portal of claim 39, wherein said exchange processor calculates a commission earned by said portal operator based on a price paid for said commodity by said purchaser.
41. The portal of claim 39, wherein said exchange processor calculates a fraction of said commission to be paid to a third party that referred said seller to said portal operator.
42. The portal of claim 39, wherein to trade said commodity includes to auction said commodity.
43. The portal of claim 39, wherein said exchange information indicates said commodity is to be offered for sale in multiple forms selected from at least one of whole units, constituent parts, scrap, and raw scrap material.
44. The portal of claim 43, wherein said exchange processor is adapted to receive from said multiple client terminals at least one offer for each of said multiple forms.
45. The portal of claim 44, wherein one of said multiple forms receives a highest offer greater than offers received by other of said multiple forms and said exchange processor trades said commodity in said one of said multiple forms that received said highest offer.
46. The portal of claim 39, wherein said exchange information indicates said commodity is to be offered for sale in multiple ways selected from at least one of offering said commodity in an alternative geographic region different from a certain geographic region, offering constituent parts of commodity for sale on said portal, offering said commodity to businesses through another portal, and offering said commodity directly to consumers through yet another portal.
47. The portal of claim 46, wherein said exchange processor is adapted to receive from said multiple client terminals at least one offer for each of said multiple ways.
48. The portal of claim 47, wherein one of said multiple ways receives a highest offer greater than offers received by other of said multiple ways and said exchange processor trades said commodity in said one of said multiple ways that received said highest offer.
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