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Boingo Awarded a Patent For Hotspot Access

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the pay-up-everyone dept.

Patents 105

Boingo has scored a patent for accessing a Wi-Fi hotspot by a mobile device. The patent, no. 7,483,984, was issued in January, but Boingo only started talking about it recently. The patent application was filed in December 2002. According to the company, the methods covered by the patent include: "...accessing wireless carrier networks by mobile computing devices, where a client software application hosted by the device accesses carrier networks using wireless access points. For example, when a computer — or netbook, smartphone or any other Wi-Fi-enabled device — is in a location where there are multiple signals, the patented technology looks at each signal and alerts the user which signal will work, showing the signal as an understandable name and ID for the user.The patent covers all wireless technologies and spectrums, as well as any mobile device that access wireless hotspots." The company is not saying anything about whether or how they will attempt to wield this patent.

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105 comments

First post god strikes again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447087)

4 times in 5 days. Suck it up baby!!

Re:First post god strikes again! (-1, Offtopic)

metacell (523607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447121)

Um... how about writing about something instead?

Re:First post god strikes again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447135)

<sarcasm>Truly, there is no better way for you to win the hearts and minds of the ladies. I salute you, and the epic amounts of pussy you are about to score.</sarcasm>

How interesting. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447105)

I heard Hitler was awarded a patent for his Jew Hotspot technology. Today we know it as the convection oven.

Re:How interesting. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447251)

I have a burning need to tell you exactly what is wrong with that statement...

WTF! (4, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447137)

I thought Halliburton patented this tactic back in 2008: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/10/1651236&from=rss [slashdot.org]

Boingo is infringing another corporation's intellectual property!

Re:WTF! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447267)

Considering they bought the URL from Dan's Boingo Page [boingo.org] originally, they are actually out to ruin two things I use.

Re:WTF! (1)

Gresyth (1103851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449755)

As of 5-19-2009 Haliburton filed a request for reconsideration of their patent application being rejected on 2-19-2009. http://portal.uspto.gov/external/PA_1_0_15H/view/BrowsePdfServlet?objectId=FUWRR4H6PPOPPY4&lang=DINO [uspto.gov] The NON-Final rejection of all claims, 53 page pdf http://portal.uspto.gov/external/PA_1_0_15H/view/BrowsePdfServlet?objectId=FRDIGQCZPPOPPY5&lang=DINO [uspto.gov] I would think for this nonsense they could have just skipped straight to the FINAL rejection.

20080270152 (5, Funny)

KronosReaver (932860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447153)

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=20080270152&OS=20080270152&RS=20080270152 [uspto.gov]

Patent Acquisition and Assertion by a (Non-Inventor) First Party Against a Second Party

Abstract

Methods for a first party to acquire and assert a patent property against a second party are disclosed. The methods include obtaining an equity interest in the patent property. The methods further include writing a claim within the scope of the patent property. The claim is written to cover a product of the second party where the product includes a secret aspect. The methods further include filing the claim with a patent office. The methods sometimes include offering a license of the patent property to the second party after the patent property issues as a patent with the claim. The methods sometimes include asserting infringement of the claim by the second party after the patent property issues as a patent with the claim. The methods sometimes include negotiating a cross-license with the second party based on the assertion of infringement of the claim, where under the cross-license the first party obtains a license to an intellectual property right from the second party. The methods sometime include attempting to obtain a monetary settlement from the second party based on the assertion of infringement of the claim.

Re:20080270152 (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447469)

This is absolutely horrifying! Will it be granted? It was filed by the poster child of ruthless corruption.

I think people have been modding this "funny" because they think you made it up.

Re:20080270152 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447539)

No, they modded it funny because it is funny.

Re:20080270152 (1, Flamebait)

_ivy_ivy_ (1081273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447767)

But wait!

I've applied for a patent for the method of patenting the process of abusing the patent system!

Too bad it's patently obvious.

Re:20080270152 (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448121)

I thought you were kidding until I saw the link, even then I didn't really think it would link to a patent application for that...

In any case, though, I'm sorry to inform Halliburton that there's a bit of prior art [law.com] on patent trolling. Though I'd almost hope they get it, if for no other reason than to see the irony of a patent troll getting sued for patent infringement.

Re:20080270152 (1)

roemcke (612429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448621)

I hope they get this patent and start going after patent trolls. Often pantents are aquired for defensive purposes, so that you can countersue if somebody sues you. Normally patent trolls doesn't produce any products, so there is no way to sue them for patent infrigment to protect yourself, except if you own a patent for abusing the patent system :)

Wiki says FAIL (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447163)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wifi_hotspot

Publicly proposed in 1993.
Widely deployed by 1996.

Re:Wiki says FAIL (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447337)

Wow, you went to all that effort, but you couldn't even skim the summary? Boingo didn't patent the hotspot, they patented a method to have a single signon for multiple wifi (or other spectra) carriers.

Not that this is a sustainable patent (it seems pretty obvious to anyone skilled in the art).

Re:Wiki says FAIL (1, Troll)

cool_story_bro (1522525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451573)

Not that this is a sustainable patent (it seems pretty obvious to anyone skilled in the art).

I wish that were true, but it's not those guys we have have to worry about.

Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447169)

This patent is beyond the Patent Office's usual idiocy and right up there with "method for playing with a cat with a laser". I mean really, displaying a list of accessible networks using perfectly standard techniques?

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (1, Flamebait)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447191)

Yeah.

I mean, I wasn't even an early adopter and I had a home wireless setup before they filed this, and a computer that would present a list of hotspots by SSID.

This is nuts.

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (5, Funny)

rminsk (831757) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447361)

For complete context here is the Method of exercising a cat [google.com] patent.

A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (3, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448465)

Damn, can't find the "+1 Holy Crap It's True" mod

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28450335)

... directing a beam of visible light ...

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (2, Informative)

loutr (626763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28450387)

The beam is invisible, you (and the cat I guess) can only see the "bright pattern of light". One of my friend does exactly that with his cat, it's funny as hell watching him jump around trying to catch it :) I'll tell him to buy a license right away so he can keep on exercizing his cat.

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (1)

cool_story_bro (1522525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451609)

"beam of invisible light" != "invisible beam of light". I know I'm splitting hairs, but the light is not invisible, the beam is

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (1)

tkasd (1532407) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451869)

Make sure your friend will not just try to circumventing the patent by attaching the laser pointer to the cat's collar - there is a patent for that too: http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=1EF3AAAAEBAJ [google.com]

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447535)

My guess without looking up the prosecution history on Public PAIR (which anyone could do when the system is up) is that the key limitation here is that you have to get carrier network information from an access point database using the carrier network identifiers as a key.

Unfortunately, some internal databases at the USPTO have been down all day today, and that includes the databases that supply data to Public PAIR.

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447661)

Sorry. Someone already filed an application on "Method for replacing chimpanzees weilding 'APPROVED' stamps with human examiners".

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448387)

Wow. Patent Examiner are idiots. Yet none of the "experts" on slashdot have found any art to invalidate this patent.

If you think the patent is invalid, show me some art. If you can't, shut the fuck up.

Re:Can we bring back real patent examiners now? (1)

PsiCTO (442262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451637)

Please, not before my application for the indexing of data volumes (with a preferred embodiment based on vegetable dyes stamped onto processed cellulose sheets) such that information such as authorship, data category, repository location, publication date, publisher, and such is presented in an index consisting of cards (see later preferred embodiments) arranged in stacks contained by sliding card-holding racks (see later preferred embodiments for examples in wood and steel). Said racks are located in a central repository and locatable via instructions presented by a second invention (referenced therein) with preferred embodiments including signs, help desk brochures, verbal instruction from repository custodians, etc.

They Mention Wi-Fi In Their Patent (1, Interesting)

xp (146294) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447189)

Since they mention Wi-Fi in their patent doesn't the patent invalidate itself by itself referring to prior art?
--
Job Frenzy [adaptiveapp.com]

Re:They Mention Wi-Fi In Their Patent (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448015)

Shhh! Don't tell anyone! Let me let you in on a little secret of the patent procedure - the whole reason the "prior art" section is there is to see if filers put something in there. If they do, bam! instant rejection. After all, it's pretty common knowledge that the only things that can be patented are items created entirely from scratch with no relationship to existing technology and using only newly-discovered materials. Apparently this patent slipped through the cracks. Thanks for pointing out the non-blank "prior art" section; we'll have someone look into it and get back to you; keep monitoring your email inbox and stand by your phone (yes, we have them already).

The Government

Dead on arrival... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447211)

The independent claims contain the key limitation:

wherein two or more carrier network identifiers associated with a common carrier network system are aggregated to generate a carrier network system identifier that is included in the user selectable list

so if you see multiple Starbucks SSIDS, you just display one on the list to pick from.

it would seem, therefore, that if you do not perform this step of aggregating the two or more network identifiers associated with a common network system, you've avoided this patent.

HINT: show 'em all, even if it means showing multiple Starbucks.

My favourite carrier when I'm on the road? LINKSYS

Re:Dead on arrival... (3, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447255)

wherein two or more carrier network identifiers associated with a common carrier network system are aggregated to generate a carrier network system identifier that is included in the user selectable list

Haven't GSM phones done this for ages when roaming? The phone may be in range of multiple towers from multiple providers, yet it only gives a list of providers (not the individual towers).

Re:Dead on arrival... (1)

roemcke (612429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448839)

I don't know if GSM phones check with a database to see if they are allowed to connect to the access point when listing networks.

What is claimed in the patent is doing ALL of the following in a single product:

- Scanning for access points or looking them up from a storage medium
- Looking up access rights for the access points from a database
- Listing access points to the user, where access points belonging to the same provider are shown as a single item.

Some claims ar more specific, but i think doing only 2 of the 3 things above should not count as infringement or prior art.

Disclaimer: My knowledge of patent law is by reading slashdot. And patents are generally harder to understand than obfuscatet perl-scripts.

Re:Dead on arrival... (2, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449335)

What is claimed in the patent is doing ALL of the following in a single product:

- Scanning for access points or looking them up from a storage medium
- Looking up access rights for the access points from a database
- Listing access points to the user, where access points belonging to the same provider are shown as a single item.

Some claims ar more specific, but i think doing only 2 of the 3 things above should not count as infringement or prior art.

I don't know about the database either, but adding the database doesn't seem very inventive. Prior art doesn't have to be identical and there was a case that concluded that putting together two existing technologies to create a new product or device was not, per se, sufficiently inventive.

Re:Dead on arrival... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28450071)

My old phone (10 years ago) would add an F (forbidden) to the names of those providers that my phone company didn't have a roaming agreement with.

Re:Dead on arrival... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28454741)

I don't know if GSM phones check with a database to see if they are allowed to connect to the access point when listing networks.

Actually, the system checks the database for the number and ESN of the phone to see if it's allowed on the network. That's why you could be standing next to a tower and have zero signal on your phone is because it's not allowed on that network.

Re:Dead on arrival... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451107)

Didn't Windows XP SP1 do this, which was released in....oh, I don't know....maybe September 2002?

As to checking a database to see if they're allowed to connect....isn't that basically MAC filtering? The only difference is, it doesn't display "Verboten!" on the interface. Hardly a patentable innovation....

Re:Dead on arrival... (3, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447829)

The independent claims contain the key limitation

Yeah, but you have to understand that none of the /. editors knows anything about patents, which is why summaries on patent-related stories always cite completely irrelevant information that has nothing at all to do with what is actually patented. This despite nearly a decade of people who DO know something about patents pointing it out.

It's kind of sad, really. Nerds are supposed to be all up on the facts, but as patent stories on /. make clear, the editors and most of the readership don't care about facts at all, which is why they insist on treating totally unrelated information, like the patent abstract, as if it had something to do with what is actually being patented. It doesn't, and anyone who knows anything about patents knows that.

Re:Dead on arrival... (2, Insightful)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448415)

No no no, this isn't an editor this is kdawson. kdawson is to $COMPETENTEDITOR as Ed Wood is to $COMPETENTDIRECTOR.

One day he'll pass into internets mythology like Biff.

Re:Dead on arrival... (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448735)

Yeah, but you have to understand that none of the /. editors knows anything about patents, which is why summaries on patent-related stories always cite completely irrelevant information that has nothing at all to do with what is actually patented. This despite nearly a decade of people who DO know something about patents pointing it out.

What people who claim to know something about patents "point out" is contradicted by the actual prosecution of patent violations, where the claims are construed rather more broadly than patent fans would imply.

In any case, that limitation is not significant. You could argue that aggregating multiple access points within the same ESSID covers it. But even if it doesn't, there's nothing patent-worthy about abstracting carrier information to present a higher-level summary to the user. Even if it hasn't been done in exactly this scenario (which is apparently what the patent office thinks is "novel"), similar things have been done often enough that it's certainly not patent-worthy... that is, it's obvious.

Re:Dead on arrival... (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451411)

What people who claim to know something about patents "point out" is contradicted by the actual prosecution of patent violations, where the claims are construed rather more broadly than patent fans would imply

I'm not a fan of software patents, and your comment doesn't answer my point because you correctly ground the prosecution of patent violations in the claims, however broadly construed, rather than in completely unrelated matter like the abstract, background, and company press releases, all of which get top billing in /. patent stories.

The question of whether or not the claims in this patent are sufficiently novel to pass examination is independent of the question of what is being claimed. The summary of the article, and the headline in particular, is misleading to the point of falsehood.

The headline is talking about a "patent for hotspot access", which the patent in question has nothing to do with. It is a patent for presenting multiple hotspots from the same provider to the user as a single choice in the UI, not a patent for accessing hotspots.

"Lies for Nerds. Stuff that isn't true."

Re:Dead on arrival... (2, Insightful)

saxmanb (156794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28452731)

I couldn't agree more. *flame on* Most of the slashdotters just wave their hands and say "oh this is SOOOO obvious..blah blah blah" but hardly any try to actually find something that teaches the "obvious" invention (that published before the filing date). It's always "oh everyone knows that". Well, if everyone knows it then it shouldn't take but a few seconds on google, should it?

I'm all for the patent statutes being amended and the system being overhauled, but geez, don't bash the examining corp for following the current law. If you think a patent is invalid and is threatening your business or innovation FILE A REEXAM OF THE PATENT. It's cheaper than litigation and if you think the patent is "bad" then supply the art and invalidate the thing. Geez. *flame off*.

Re:Dead on arrival... (3, Interesting)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448555)

Unfortunately, the common carrier can be simply construed as the internet as proxied by ISPs. Identifiers can simply be IP addresses - when viewed as a tuple (ap, ip) the ips are unique. Note that it does not logically matter which ap or isp is chosen for a network connection. My laptop certainly maintains a list (database) of access points, and attendant information (passwords).

I can pick one from the list, or one will be automatically chosen.

The iPhone is even more interesting here; it even switches between cellular and wifi.

As far as I can tell, this patent locks up everything currently in play for wifi - Linux NetworkManager conflicts, as does the iPhone, and, I believe Windows.

iwconfig and ifconfig in Linux would NOT conflict, but, outside of some techies, no one uses that layer directly. Private networks are also not affected.

The most interesting question is: who should pay? The invention doesn't come together until a number of elements are combined - the ap, a common network, a connection list. Remove any one of these elements, and (from my read) the invention ceases to exist. We won't be getting rid of the common network, so it will be "client side" payouts -- either on the aps, or the software that remembers aps. aps themselves don't infringe, so the only item left is the software that maintains and manages the connection list. NetworkManager.

My response to that? They would be serious asshats to actually USE this patent.

Re:Dead on arrival... (2, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451207)

The most interesting question is: who should pay?

The chain of command at Boingo who approved this, by being dragged out, beaten senseless, and having "I RUIN AMERICA" tattooed on their faces.

Fives years ago, I would have meant that as a joke.

Re:Dead on arrival... (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449899)

wherein two or more carrier network identifiers associated with a common carrier network system are aggregated to generate a carrier network system identifier that is included in the user selectable list

so if you see multiple Starbucks SSIDS, you just display one on the list to pick from.

it would seem, therefore, that if you do not perform this step of aggregating the two or more network identifiers associated with a common network system, you've avoided this patent.

Group multiple entries as being equivalent and only displaying one. Who could ever have thought of that novel concept!!???

Now I'm really convinced that current IP laws do indeed promote the creation and dissemination of new ideas!

Re:Dead on arrival... (1)

DeskLazer (699263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28454519)

wait a minute, are you that asshole that keeps parking in front of my apartment building with your laptop out and looking for an unsecured network? our router is password protected. get off our lawn!

Can I just point out that.. (1)

PipingSnail (1112161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447293)

Can I just point out that a mobile phone is in itself a mobile computing device (even without the ability to "run" your app of choice or a command shell. Even the "bricks" that people carried around circa 1985 had more CPU power than most computers. This patent is invalid right from the get go.

Re:Can I just point out that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447367)

Even the "bricks" that people carried around circa 1985 had more CPU power than most computers.

Umm, I think you just might be a teensy weensy bit wrong there.

Dr Boingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447297)

Pinky against corner of mouth, "I want one million dollars for accessing WiFi hotspots". Clue evil laugh.

Re:Dr Boingo (1)

_ivy_ivy_ (1081273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447785)

No sharks with laserbeams?

Impossible (3, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447305)

The patent seems to be related to the mobile device specifically accessing a "hot-spot". Just how the heck are they supposed to license this and make money?

Any mobile device can connect up to wireless that does not necessarily qualify as a hotspot. So how can you force a mobile phone manufacturer, a netbook manufacturer, a laptop manufacturer, etc. to pay royalties when there is no guarantee that the device will ever be used to access a hotspot? I understand they have a patent, but I don't find that reasonable.

To me it would be the same as getting a patent on the act of juicing oranges and then asking royalties from every single juice machine manufacturer with the claim, "well it could be used to juice oranges".

They could go after the people hosting wireless hotspots that the devices would be accessing or the access point manufacturers, but the claim is on the client device......

Re:Impossible (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447385)

I'm guessing they are not interested in licensing.

There are legal theories that a patentee may use to cover the situations you discuss: contributory infringement and induced infringement. Wikipedia has a brief mention. [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Impossible (4, Insightful)

Ifni (545998) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447481)

To me it would be the same as getting a patent on the act of juicing oranges and then asking royalties from every single juice machine manufacturer with the claim, "well it could be used to juice oranges".

Or going after the recordable media manufacturers and demanding royalties because "it could be used to record copyrighted media." I have complete faith that such things would never come to pass.

Re:Impossible (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448323)

Your comment needs some clarification. Since we are talking about U.S. patent law, ill stay in that region. In the U.S. there is special blank CD media made for recording music onto CDs using STANDALONE CD recorders. Blank CDs labeled specifically 'for music' have the royalties you describe above attached to it. In Canada, its as you describe.

Re:Impossible (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447889)

The significance is apparently that one is presumably charging for access to a specific hot spot rather than to the other ones in the area. Doesn't make it any more valid, but it does appear to mean commercial services rather than unprotected WAP.

Re:Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28450217)

The retailer of the software which displays the list of SSIDs and allows the mobile device to connect to the hotspot will be charged with royalties. The device manufacture is only responsible for the driver which falls outside this patent

Re:Impossible (1)

DeskLazer (699263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28454587)

can you please put this in a car analogy for some of us? this is slashdot after all...

The must be more to the patent (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447323)

otherwise this won't last for very long.

The key element of the claims (5, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447347)

There is one key element of the claims that no OS or device that I'm familiar with implements. Specifically, the list of wireless networks presented to the user must include "getting carrier network information from an access point database by the access client using the plurality of carrier network identifiers, wherein the carrier network information includes information indicating whether the access client is authorized to access a carrier network..." In short, the list of networks must include whether or not the client is authorized to access each network.

To my knowledge, no OS or device does this inherently. They may show that the network is encrypted or that it requires a username and password, but those say nothing about whether the client is authorized (i.e., allowed or permitted) to access the network. Even software that shows that a user is currently connected to a network that requires authentication only implies authorization and then only to that network, not any others.

So, as I read the patent, most existing software does not seem to infringe. One possible infringer might be the Easy Wi-Fi app for the iPhone, but it has been made obsolete by iPhone OS 3, which auto-authenticates with AT&T hotspots.

Re:The key element of the claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447389)

dogg, its /. it aint exactly the place to go for an honest summary of a patent.

this patent is about displaying a list of carriers for a user to choose among. yet the summary says its a patent for "accessing a hotspot". whether or not you think the actual patent claims are too broad or not, the summary is way off.

Re:The key element of the claims (0, Redundant)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447859)

dogg, its /. it aint exactly the place to go for an honest summary of a patent.

What he said. It's tiresome that /. continues to cite completely irrelevant information in patent story summaries. I don't know whether the editors are simply too stupid to understand the very simple fact that nothing but the claims matter or if they are deliberately posting false and misleading summaries to boost readership outrage.

If the latter, /. risks becoming just another boingboing, with its carefully crafted culture of Two Minutes Hate.

Re:The key element of the claims (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449185)

"In short, the list of networks must include whether or not the client is authorized to access each network."

So in other words, they patented the impossible. At best they could say that you are authorized to be prompted by a username and password. Since the system doesn't know if I know the password, nor could it ever know if I know and remember my password, it can never work. I am not authorized until I successfully enter my password during the authorization process. The very best it can do is verify if I am authorized to attempt to gain authorization from the system ;-)

Re:The key element of the claims (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451687)

"In short, the list of networks must include whether or not the client is authorized to access each network."

So in other words, they patented the impossible. At best they could say that you are authorized to be prompted by a username and password. Since the system doesn't know if I know the password, nor could it ever know if I know and remember my password, it can never work. I am not authorized until I successfully enter my password during the authorization process. The very best it can do is verify if I am authorized to attempt to gain authorization from the system ;-)

I think as soon as you say "they patented the impossible" and "it can never work", you're acknowledging that their method, if it does work, is novel and nonobvious.

Re:The key element of the claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28450371)

There is software which displays whether you have a password for given network stored or if you had connected with it in the past.

But I doubt I'm authorized to access 90% of the networks I have on my list.

Re:The key element of the claims (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451177)

When I open my laptop in a dense AP area, and check for wireless networks, I see:

linksys Automatic
Unsecured wireless network

dlink Automatic
Unsecured Wireless network

store348
Security Enabled wireless network

shop
Security Enabled wireless network (WPA)

Your security sucks
Unsecured wireless network

My Business Network Automatic
Security Enabled wireless network (WPA)

See those three "Automatic" labels? That's displayed by checking a database to see if I'm authorized to access that network.

Re:The key element of the claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28456885)

Lots of software from mobility network aggregators has knowledge of whether or not it can connect an authenticate to a network using cached credentials. of course the creds could be expired and the network could reject, but they still know. Look up iPass and Fiberlink

Huh? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447369)

Doesn't the fact that WiFi hot spots exist in the first place count as prima facia evidence that there are already in existence methods of selecting and connecting to them? There would be no mobile hot spots if clients couldn't connect!

May it fuse to their arm as -4 to hit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447423)

"whether or how they will attempt to wield this patent."

And I hope they don't have a "Remove Curse" scroll either.

Re:May it fuse to their arm as -4 to hit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448405)

Or a blessed scroll of enchant weapon... or what if they are confused and try to cast... fuck it. n/m.

Tear it down (4, Interesting)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447577)

The US Patent Office should be eliminated. It doesn't serve its intended purpose, and the way patents are reviewed indicates that the people examining them either don't often have a clue on what is obvious or non-obvious, or that there is massive corruption and the finances of the examiners need forensic investigation.

I think there are way to many lawsuits out there, usually motivated by greed, but is it possible for people to launch a class action lawsuit to simply stop an entity from operating?

It seems like the concept of free market economy and all-encompassing corporate patents are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Re:Tear it down (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447791)

Once the economy recovers and the USPTO starts hiring again, you could always apply to work there and fix the system from within.

Re:Tear it down (1)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447833)

eh, its easier to complain on the internet.

Re:Tear it down (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449223)

Grandparent:

"Once the economy recovers and the USPTO starts hiring again, you could always apply to work there and fix the system from within."

Parent:

"eh, its easier to complain on the internet."

When you say it is easier, I presume you mean that it is actually possible to complain on the internet. ;-)

Re:Tear it down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28447969)

Yes, let's destroy everything that doesn't work correctly, because this proves that its original intent is unimportant.

Re:Tear it down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448085)

It serves it's purpose.

revenue generation.

Re:Tear it down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448115)

Well, you could always get yourself elected to Congress. That's sort of like a lawsuit, except well, a bit more upfront costs.

There's 435 spots in the House open, and 36 in the Senate.

Re:Tear it down (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28451711)

The US Patent Office should be eliminated. It doesn't serve its intended purpose, and the way patents are reviewed indicates that the people examining them either don't often have a clue on what is obvious or non-obvious, or that there is massive corruption and the finances of the examiners need forensic investigation.

So, since you're such an expert, please tell us - what is "obvious"?

This is not innovation (4, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447609)

Even if no one had thought of this before (which is not really true), this is the kind of thing that once a need presents itself, hundreds or thousands of people would think up how to do this. This is nowhere near the kind of thing that justifies the patent system concepts (of taking the rights away from possible other inventors because it is a concept that was not likely to have other inventors). The patent system is supposed to reward the inventor for creating something that we would otherwise have not had. But this is a case of something we most certainly would have almost as soon as the need is first experienced. The only advantage of a prior-to-the-need invention in this case is a few weeks lead time on the initial development, at most.

Re:This is not innovation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449173)

And copyright is supposed to benefit the creators of art and give them a reason to create, where's the news? It's been turned upside down as well, turning it into a tool that hinders creation and deters artists from continued creation.

Both share a few common traits, both are broken, both are used as a tool to keep a stranglehold on competition and customer. And both need a serious overhaul.

US Patent Office (0, Flamebait)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447631)

Poster Child for PATHETIC!!!! Speechless, simply speechless.

Please tell me I am misunderstanding this (1)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447677)

So basically Boingo can file patent infringement lawsuits against any company that makes Wi-Fi products which show a list of access points within range.

Re:Please tell me I am misunderstanding this (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448573)

well, they can try now. Im fairly sure the lawsuit would be a failure if put before a court.

pointless (1)

Kebis (1396783) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447737)

This reminds me of McDonald's "how to make a sandwich" patent.

Re:pointless (1)

cs_jd3 (1582789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449151)

Or what about Amazon's one-click patent joke?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click [wikipedia.org]

It was partially rejected in US recently, now Amazon's trying to "fix" it post-mortem. Never was granted in Europe...

Are Euros any better at this than the US? Why are our patent laws so lax?

Boingo. (1, Offtopic)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447787)

Boingo is a company that was founded by the founder of Earthlink, Sky Dayton, back in 2001. His idea was to create a nationwide (and later global) network of hotspots, much like Wayport provides. It never took off. The USPTO is slow. Big deal, this isn't a patent troll company. It's a legitimate business that provides a very large network of hotspots. But of course this is Slashdot where nobody actually reads the article or researches what is being talked about and just jumps to conclusions.

Hell, he rented a house from my family out in California when he was starting this company and we got free Internet access from him in exchange for beta testing his service. Wayport has been around longer than Boingo, but didn't get into the wireless hotspot business until 2004. I really don't know what to make of this patent though.

Re:Boingo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448095)

So you're saying that you're a Scientologist?

Re:Boingo. (5, Informative)

$pace6host (865145) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448189)

I was traveling a bit recently, and a lot of the WiFi hotspots in airports, restaurants and hotels were free (or included with whatever purchase you were already making). Most of the ones that weren't could be accessed with Boingo, so I looked into it a little. It seems that their "innovation" is that they are a network of networks. The actual WiFi service provider that you use might be AT&T or Wayport, but a Boingo subscription gets you access to all of them. I think the patent is intended to cover their method of identifying Boingo-member networks and listing those. They have special software you can download for that, though you don't need it. You can simply use the advertised SSIDs of the WiFi hotspots themselves. Their "innovation" is looking up the SSIDs in the network database for you, to automatically identify which networks are part of Boingo, consolidating the list, and then letting you have preferences as to which networks show up on the top of the list. I prefer open standards myself. I also prefer to places that offer their WiFi for free - so I decided not to subscribe and they can keep their patented technology.

Re:Boingo. (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448691)

Ah, I never really fully looked into what Sky was doing with Boingo. That seems kind of pointless in a way.

Also, whoever modded me, please do explain how I was trolling.

Re:Boingo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28452135)

And now some idiot mod thinks that somehow talking about Boingo in an article about Boingo is offtopic? Slashdot is full of retards now.

REPEAT AFTER ME: MODERATION IS NOT USED TO CENSOR THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH.

Unbelievable (1)

EmmDashNine (1082413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447797)

This is patent trolling at the worst. While they may have a product that actually uses the technology covered by the patent, the patent will end up serving them more by allowing them to squeeze others for existing products. Patent_troll [wikipedia.org]

This makes me sad (1)

hampton (209113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448145)

Sad enough to use a frowny [despair.com] . :-( (TM)

I can see the civil suit now (4, Funny)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448267)

Boingo Inc. vs. 35:42:11:AA:EA:03, 432 US. 666.

Lawyer: You connected to a wireless network in Starbucks?
Defendant: Yes, that's correct.
Lawyer: No further questions.

Re:I can see the civil suit now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448909)

Hmm... we have witness testimony in a Supreme Court appeal. Grand understanding of the legal system.

So much for PTO's (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28448329)

promise to be more responsible. This patent is ridiculous. It doesn't pass the obviousness test.

Did anyone actually read the patent? (4, Informative)

Logos (80812) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449021)

Yes I know, this is /. and no one read the article, let alone the actual patent - however the article (and the /. excerpt) are very misleading about what was patented. Reading the actual [uspto.gov] patent, it appears that the patent was granted on a method for the user to create an account with the patent-holder and then use the patent-holders software to access any number of various for-pay and other wifi hotspots without having to manage the individual credentialing, network configuration and associated billing. I am not a lawyer, or a patent attorney -- and I'm not a big fan of software patents in general -- but this doesn't sound anything like: "patenting wifi hotspot access". More like: "patenting an integrated, account-managed, token passing, billing system for accessing multiple diverse wifi-hotspot vendor systems". I.e. Much narrower and a based on a product built on basic wifi access. In short: Boingo was granted a patent on their software that makes it easier to manage all those wifi accounts you have to set up if you travel a lot and use a bunch of different carriers. Not wifi access in general. The editors should consider amending the front page summary because its very misleading.

Re:Did anyone actually read the patent? (1)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28449751)

I believe you're correct. I haven't read the patent, but do I subscribe to Boingo (travel weekly for work) and I've used the software in question -- it will tell the user which networks in range are Boingo affiliates, and allows them to log into those networks using their Boingo accounts, regardless of who actually operates the network in question.

RIP IP3 Networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28449323)

"As you may be aware, we have been in litigation with Nomadix for over 18 months, and the financial and operational pressures of continuing that litigation have made it impossible for us to continue to operate. We have done everything in our power to avoid this step, but we have now run out of time, money and any viable alternatives."

Killed by Nomadix's patents: http://www.ip3.com/

In this one particular case... (1)

hotdiggity (987032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28450419)

...I'm okay with this superfluous patent.

Normally, I'd be outraged (okay, maybe just irritated) with patenting something this silly. But if the end result is the prevention of somebody reproducing Boingo's client, we all win.

The Boingo client is just another resident program that adds nothing useful to the desktop environment. It just delays my boot up time, takes up memory, and occasionally crashes or updates itself. If I wanted that, I'd get Adobe Reader, thanks.

When I rush through an airport and want Wifi, I don't want to have to install a client. Windows may not get everything right, but it has a perfectly good wifi selection system that other hotspot providers are okay with. Maybe this patent will prevent OS's from incorporating this marginally useful feature, and that might be a shame (if anyone really cares). But I don't want hotspot-specific software on my computer, doubtlessly pushing advertising and God knows what else upon me.

Tired of this crap... (1)

decompiler (690527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456035)

Why can't people just find an *honest* way to earn a living any more? F'ing losers...
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