Feeds

NetZero wins round one in patent suit

Free ISPs slug it out

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

US ISP NetZero has got a temporary restraining order against rival Juno Online Services as part of their ongoing spat over online ads.

The move, which centres on a patent governing ads or messages shown via a window separate to the browser, is part of a tit for tat legal dispute between the two. Juno sued California-based NetZero, which offers a free ISP service in return for constant ads on users' screens, for patent infringement last year. So NetZero filed a similar suit against Juno on December 26 - saying its floating window, Juno Guide, infringed its patent (which was issued on December 6).

Today's move bans Juno from displaying third party adverts in its ad banner window until March 15. It is still free to use the space to advertise its own services.

NetZero chairman and CEO Mark Goldston issued a warning to other ISPs: "We believe our patent is a powerful proprietary right which will provide us with a competitive advantage in our market... Other ISPs should take note of the court's ruling and carefully consider their use of similar ad banner windows."

New York-based Juno remained upbeat about the ruling - it claimed the advertising in question accounts for less than four per cent of revenues, while it was relieved the court didn't opt for NetZero's original request to stop Juno from engaging in other advertising areas.

"To put this ruling into perspective, about two-thirds of Juno's revenues are currently derived from subscriptions to its billable premium services, while the remaining third comes from various forms of advertising and e-commerce, only a small part of which is based on the floating ad banner shown to users of our free basic service," said Charles Ardai, Juno president and CEO.

Ardai claimed the advertising did not infringe on any valid NetZero patent, and added the ISP would contest the allegations. After mid-March NetZero can ask to extend the restraining order, while a court date has been set for July.

According to Phillip Silverstein, Senior VP and general council of New York-based intellectual property management company General Patent Corp (GPC), the NetZero action is a symptom of the industry - and one that is on the increase.

There were 1,800 patent infringement lawsuits filed in 1996, and in 1999 this number rose 34 per cent to 2,300. Silverstein reckons patent lawsuits saw a big hike in 2000, largely due to "an increasing number of business method patents issuing from the patent office".

"These are going to be a very significant cause of litigation, simply because many of the business methods that are covered by these patents are probably being practiced by other businesses," he said. ®

Related Stories

BT launches US hyperlinks legal action
Tulip sues Dell over alleged $17bn patent infringement
Compaq sued for $60m over video patent
UK Patent Office opens software patent consultation
Mercata wins group-buying Net patent
Amazon's Bezos calls for radical change in patent laws

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.