Feeds

Wi-Fi hotspots hit with page redirect royalty claim

Patent owner demands cash

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

US wireless internet service providers have been hit with demands for hefty royalty payments from an intellectual property exploitation company claiming it owns gateway page redirection.

Acacia Technologies last week began sending details of a patent it owns which details the process by which a WISP's servers redirect connected computers' browsers to a login page, Wi-Fi Networking News reports.

The patent in question is 6,226,677, and was acquired by Acacia from LodgeNet. Granted in May 2001, the patent application was originally filed in January 1999, long before the Wi-Fi hotspot business emerged.

Curiously, Nomadix, a company that sells network access control software to WISPs, announced earlier this year that it had been granted a similar patent, number 6,636,894. Nomadix' patent describes "systems and methods for redirecting users having transparent computer access to a network using a gateway device having redirection capability". Acacia's simply talks about "controlled communications over a global computer network".

Essentially, they amount to the same thing, and since Nomadix' version goes back only so far as December 1999, Acacia has the potential to cry 'prior art', should the two firms come to blows.

Acacia's patent simply describes page redirection. Nomadix' patent, which cites a number of other patents but not Acacia's, applies redirection to the specific task of garnering and processing login data in order to decide whether or not the user should be granted access to the Internet.

Many WISPs weren't overly concerned with Nomadix' patent. Plenty use software like the code Nomadix offers, and they expected their own software partners to deal with any claims made by Nomadix. Only those who had developed their own redirect code needed to worry about licensing the technology.

Acacia, however, appears to be targeting WISPs directly. According to WFNN's report, the company is demanding $1000 a year for up to 3500 redirected connections. Beyond that number, each redirected connection will levy a fee of 5-15c.

However, the company claimed the fees need not put any hotspot owners' business at risk. "We think we set the royalties at a low enough level where it shouldn't have any affect on the market," Rob Berman, Acacia's executive VP of business development and general counsel, told WFNN. "These royalties should not affect anybody's business in a negative way."

WISPs have 30 days to respond, he said. After that, anyone found infringing the patent could be liable for a patent violation suit.

However, just as Acacia's patent pre-dates Nomadix' IP, so some WISPs claim to have been doing redirects even earlier, potentially grounds to challenge the validity of both patents. ®

Related stories

Nomadix patents Wi-Fi hotspot log-in tech
Cisco sued in Wi-Fi patent clash
T-Mobile boosts public WLAN security
Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.