(This story was updated at 4:38pm EST, March 24, 2010, to add a comment from Tix Corp. CEO Mitch Francis) Tix Corp., the California-based...

(This story was updated at 4:38pm EST, March 24, 2010, to add a comment from Tix Corp. CEO Mitch Francis)

Tix Corp., the California-based company best known as the owner of the Tix4Tonight chain of Las Vegas discount ticketing locations, has received a U.S. patent for its proprietary “ticket distribution system,” which could make the company a growing competitor to Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster division.

The patent was approved earlier in the year, and it “covers a number of the key aspects of discount ticketing brokerage operations and technological systems related to the sale and distribution of unused tickets,” according to Tix Corp.

Details of the system have not been released, but essentially, it ties together all of the company’s ticket distribution hubs, which include storefronts, kiosks, the Internet and telephone, under the control of a centralized, proprietary processing system, which the company claims Tix4Tonight pioneered.

In a statement at the time of the approval, Mitch Francis, the company’s chairman and CEO, said the patent process took years to complete. “We are thrilled about the issuance of this patent, which is the culmination of eight years of effort. This important corporate milestone reflects our role as a leader and a pioneer in the business of brokering discount tickets.”

Tix Corp. has a strong position in the Las Vegas market for selling discounted show tickets, but the company has not successfully parlayed that standing into improving its stock, shares of which sell trade the symbol TIXC. As of today, March 24, the stock was trading below $1.30 per share, well under its 52-week high of $4.20.

The company’s 2010 revenues were up about 17.7 percent over 2009 to $81.8 million, but it still recorded a net loss of more than $500,000. That figure was significantly better than the $34.7 million loss for 2008, which was due to charges for goodwill and intangible assets that year.

The proprietary ticket distribution system could further turn around the company’s fortunes. Tix Corp. has not disclosed its specific plans for the patented system, but it could license and sell it as a stand alone product to box offices, ticket companies or other live entertainment entities. Or, the company could use it as a springboard to become a viable competitor to Ticketmaster by trying to expand into the primary ticketing space.

“We are examining options to expand our discount ticket business,” Francis told TicketNews, declining to elaborate.

Ticketmaster just successfully completed its merger with Live Nation, and under the conditions imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in approving the deal, the DOJ sought to create viable primary ticketing competitors to Ticketmaster, from the likes of Comcast-Spectacor and Anschutz Entertainment Group.

Another possible move, as speculated by Web site Benzinga.com, is that Tix Corp. could be an acquisition or partnership target for deep-pocketed Live Nation.