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Google Wireless Patents Published 186

Ian wrote to mention a ZDNet article about several patents on wireless technology held by Google employees. From the article: "The patent applications, filed by Google employees Wesley Chan, Shioupyn Shen and former Google product management director Georges Harik, propose lowering the cost of wireless access by offsetting the costs via advertisements on the service. Google, which receives the bulk of its revenue from advertisers, is seeking to expand its potential advertising base by moving further into the wireless market."
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Google Wireless Patents Published

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  • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:32AM (#15010802) Homepage
    I will be master of the obvious- Giving things away for free is not a business model that leads to big profits. Give away ad supported free stuff is a different story....
    I would take free wifi in exchange for looking at some ads-
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:39AM (#15010866)
      That is obvious. Which means it shouldn't be patentable...
    • I too would accept WiFi for free, with google ads (not devilclick ads though). I would also pay to have ad free content at times.
      -nB
    • WiFi is pretty much 'free' after the initial cost (which itself isnt very much). It's your connection you'd be paying for. I would rather have the initial cost then free WiFi.

      For an internet connection it gets weirder, since we're already inundated with ads anyway, but I'd rather be able to use my connection without ads, unless they were for stuff like cars, processors and graphics cards (eg, stuff that I'd actually consider buying).

      For something like a city-wide WiMAX connection, I could put up with
    • I remember quite a few dial-up schemes that were supposed to be "free" and "ad supported".

      They seem to have all failed.

      Why was this patented?
    • Well, I don't want to have to run some closed, proprietary software that's going to take over my browser to administer these ads. It's not that I would disagree with seeing them, but rather disagree with turning over control of my machine to google. Sorry, but I really don't see a way to impliment this without first 0Wn1Ng the client's box.
      • How about only allowing access through an HTTP proxy which inserts ads? Seems to me like that would work. :)

        • that would be fine, but I wonder if advertisers would go for it due to stuff like adblock, etc... Google doesn't want to be evil, but their advertisers might.
          • Their advertisers don't leave right now because of that, though. I mean, so long as the ads are relatively unobtrusive, only expert users will remove them, and I'm sure the theory is that they're the minority of the target audience (especially since that group of people is bound to be less likely to click ads anyway).

        • So, no mail? What about SSL?
          • Web mail, or a specific exception. Most users have access to a web interface for their mail. As for SSL, I doubt that ads have to be on every page, particularly when in such small doses as the average user's use of SSL.

            The fact that Google have gotten patents implies (or you'd hope it'd imply) that they've got something marginally more sophisticated up their sleeves though. Mine was a simple example.

    • I think that with free Wi-Fi from anyone, and especially Google, would mean that more people see more ads. People that would normally pay for dialup, can now have a free and faster connection, seeing more pages, and more ads. I wonder if the revenue generated from more ad viewers would offset the cost of providing the Wi-Fi.
  • GooglEvil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:34AM (#15010809) Homepage Journal
    Patents on business model ideas, not working machines, are evil.
    • The reply to that is: "Hey, everybody's doing it."

      I'll draw an analogy from the world of sports. Many athletes take steroids just because "everyone else is doing it" and they think that this will just level the playing field.

      So in the business world, if you don't patent your ideas, someone else might. And then you're boned. You gotta stay ahead of the competition. So, obviously we need to fix the patent system and stop these patents in the first place.

      • So in the business world, if you don't patent your ideas, someone else might.

        If you're publishing your "ideas", it's prior art, a further patent would held no value (and the patent shouldn't be granted in the first place)
      • Re:GooglEvil (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:14AM (#15011095) Homepage Journal
        Instead of injecting themselves with poison, they could tell some reporters the other guy is competing unfairly by doing it.

        Instead of patenting a business practice, Google could document their use of it as prior art, protecting themselves from a later patent.

        "Everybody's doing it" is bad logic that most successful people outgrow when we become adults. That maturity might take longer for jocks, nerds and lawyers, but it's available to practically everyone.
    • Re:GooglEvil (Score:3, Insightful)

      by szembek ( 948327 )
      Not necessarily. If they enforce the patent it would be a different story, but sometimes companies have to take out patents just to protect themselves. It seems the trend is if you don't patent every possible idea in the world, some bullshit company will and then they will sue you. Look at Eolas. We'll have to see how this pans out though.
      • Re:GooglEvil (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:25AM (#15011179) Homepage Journal
        Prior art is proof against later patents, and a lot cheaper - and less evil than even the threat to monopolize an idea.
        • Re:GooglEvil (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shawb ( 16347 )
          Most of the cost of getting a patent is searching the existing documents to determine if the idea you implemented has already been patented. Once that is done actually getting the patent is quite trivial. And defensive patents can be argued as less of an evil than not getting them. If google gets hit by a submarine patent, there is a good chance they can pore through their patent library and find something the other guy is violating. Then they can threaten countersuit, or have the other party just give
          • And defensive patents can be argued as less of an evil than not getting them.

            So you agree that doing so is evil? Google never said "We'll be less evil than those other guys", they said they wouldn't be evil AT ALL. Any amount of evil greater than 'none' is, by definition, evil.

            Don't get upset with me because they set the bar so high for themselves, then failed to meet it.
            • >So you agree that doing so is evil?
              >Don't get upset with me because they set the bar so high for themselves, then failed to meet it.

              if their bar is to do no evil as seen by Slashdot posters, then thats would indeed be a impossible bar.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil [wikipedia.org]
              Evil is a term describing that which is regarded as morally bad, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, or wicked. In most cultures, the word is used to describe acts, thoughts, and ideas which are thought to (either dir
          • Those are some pragmatic justifications for doing evil.
        • Prior art is proof against later patents, and a lot cheaper - and less evil than even the threat to monopolize an idea.

          If prior art really is cheaper, then why didn't RIM use that against NTP? The problem is that once this thing gets to court, the courts automatically assume the patent is valid. It appears that you cannot present evidence in an infringement case to nullify the patent, you have to get the USPTO to do that, and we've all seen how long that can take (even longer than a court trial).

          I wo

          • Using an evil system is evil. You might say it's a "necessary evil", but that's still evil.

            RIM used everything it could. But NTP actually had the patent prior to RIM publishing any art. A better question might be "why didn't NTP use prior art?", since NTP registered first. You'll have to ask the lawyers: the case was pretty complex, expensive, and decided more on politics (like the US government's begging to hand it to RIM) than on any protection of an inventor's investment in inventing the Blackberry.
        • Yeah but some companies like to have 'defensive' patents, used like currency ... ie, say that companies can't use yours unless you can use theirs, or pull out patents to counter sue those who attack you for using theirs... etc

          • As I (and others) have been posting frequently in this thread, a patent is not required to defend from another party preventing use of an "invention". Merely documenting "prior art" of use of an "invention" prohibits another party from later patenting it.
      • If they enforce the patent it would be a different story,

        Unenforced (and occasionally enforced) patents are the business equivalent of land mines from old wars.

        but sometimes companies have to take out patents just to protect themselves. It seems the trend is if you don't patent every possible idea in the world, some bullshit company will and then they will sue you.

        It's perfectly possible for the company with a "protective patent" to become one of these parasites. e.g. if their primary business fails i
    • Patents on business model ideas are not evil. The misuse of these patents once acquired is evil. Unfortunately, the patent system as is forces companies to file for silly patents in order to cover their butts. So the question will be what Google does with the patents now that they have them.
      • No, patents which create monopolies on ideas, like business patents, are evil. Creating and holding them is evil. The mere existence of such a patent, especially owned by a rich, aggressive corporation like Google, inhibits others from using the idea. That's evil.

        The alternative, documenting one's prior art in conducting such processes, prevents a patent from stopping one's use of the idea, and is not evil.
    • Well, I think evil might be too strong a word. Still, I do consider patents on business processes -- as opposed to patents on technology without which a business process can't exist -- to be an abuse of the patent system.

      If this turns out to be that type of abusive patent, Google will loose a lot in my estimation.
      • I think monopolies that attack the liberty of the mind are evil. Patents are exactly that kind of evil. Abuse of them is really evil. Any use beyond the recovery of investment to invent the patented device is abuse.

        You can do the math on Google's patents.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:34AM (#15010822)
    I'm not a programmer, but it sounds like Google is trying to patent a business model rather than an actual technology.
  • OK, guys... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:35AM (#15010824) Journal
    I understand why patents and IP rights are crucial for innovation, and why the problem is lousy patents, not patents as a whole. These filings, though, sound like textbook cases of lousy patents. So, are all the GSycophants here going to engage in the same hysterical screeching we're getting two stories down on the E-Bay case, or is Google going to get the same approval Transmeta got?
    • I think that it is bad, but I also hope that the patents are held as a defence (much like the M$ drednaught does with many of theirs). With companies patenting everything in sight I'm afraid there is no choice but to patent your ass-print in the chair, fo fear that if you do not, someone else will and use your idea to make money by sueing you.

      It's a lousy state of affairs, but that's the way things are.
      If the big G would PD their defensive patents that would prove to me that they are defensive only :-)
      -nB
    • Patents and IP rights are not crucial to innovation. Rewarding invention is crucial to innovation. Patents are just one possible way to do this.

      And I don't think patents are even the right way to do that. To be compensated for his invention, a patent holder must stop inventing and start running a business. But business is not his specialization, invention is.

      A better way to compensate patent holders may be to allow EVERYONE to use a patent, but they must always pay some percentage of revenue on sales of the
      • I don't think patents are even the right way to do that. To be compensated for his invention, a patent holder must stop inventing and start running a business.

        Of course. That's why companies hire some people to create technology, and other people to commercialize technology.

        A better way to compensate patent holders may be to allow EVERYONE to use a patent, but they must always pay some percentage of revenue on sales of the invention the patent holder.

        "Must?" Who polices the market? The adventures of

      • They call that licensing.
  • Will Google Ads replace normal ads on a page if you're connecting with Google? That seems to be the only way I can really see Google making money off of this, and that seems to be slightly against their "Do No Evil" policy.
    And I don't think they'll have users install a bar that shows ads at the top of their screens at all times. Remember services like NetZero? They didn't work, so how would Google manage working this?
  • Stop the madness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:36AM (#15010838)
    Under the patent, the browser's appearance would be modified to reflect the brand associated with the wireless access-point provider.


    Defensive patenting or not, this kind of crap has really got to stop.

    • "Under the patent, the browser's appearance would be modified to reflect the brand associated with the wireless access-point provider.."

      Defensive patenting or not, this kind of crap has really got to stop.

      I completely agree - but what makes this odious is not the patenting, but the fact that any business wants to implement this.

      My tolerance of pointless branding has been exhausted. I take the logos off of my clothes, and I pour my Starbucks coffee into a plain mug. I tore the Intel and Microsoft Win

  • Linksys (Score:5, Funny)

    by quokkapox ( 847798 ) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:37AM (#15010846)
    As I've stated previously here, I cannot conceive how Google nor anyone else plans to compete with the existing "linksys" free wi-fi monopoly.

    I don't like monopolies, but linksys is free, ad-free, and conveniently ubiquitous. I sometimes have to deliberately tell my PC to connect to my own secured wireless AP so I can get to my files. It's almost annoying.

    BTW how *does* linksys make their money, anyway?

  • by hagrin ( 896731 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:51AM (#15010949) Homepage Journal
    ... from having their entire business model come crashing to the ground. I have been thinking about the masses, the grandmas, etc. that don't have ad blocking software and that actually do see these advertisements, but how long will it take before the Operating System makers *cough* Microsoft *cough* start trying to "help" the user by blocking competitor ads by default through the OS and Windows Updates and deploying their own ads instead?

    Many corporate enviroments already filter out ads through content blocking on their networks and that's a huge consumer market that aren't being reached (heck, I do all my "work" from work). How long until Cisco, Dell, etc. turn on this content filtering as their default policy?

    Do these actions (blocking competitor content at either the network or OS level) constitute anti-trust activities?

    I have a man crush on Google, no doubt, but I really wonder how they plan on succeeding with their current business model 10 years down the line. Or maybe, by then, everyone will be vested and no one from there will really care.
  • Dear Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twifosp ( 532320 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:54AM (#15010972)
    Drop the do no evil charade. Creating patents based on prior art is not "good". Freei internet, netzero, and more have already provided a service just like this. Because it's wireless instead of wired has no technical merit and is just like Microsoft patenting the double-click. Creating patents on an idea that doesn't have technical merit is not "good". Creating large demographic databases to sell to advertisers to further feed a corrupt consumer society is not "good". Google knows more about its frequent users online & purchasing habbits than they know about themselves.

    Drop the motto or start practicing what you preach.

    Sincerely,
    The-Not-Easily-Fooled

    • The motto isn't "Do no evil". It's "Don't be evil". Semantics aside, I believe there's a difference. Having said that, I don't see how these patents fit the meaning of either phrase.

      I think there is significant merit in the fact that this patent focuses on wireless access where previous incarnations were wired. The USPTO seems to agree. Read the Background [uspto.gov] section on application. This is most definitely about wireless access. Indeed, it seems to me that the entire raison d'etre for this one partic

      • I think there is significant merit in the fact that this patent focuses on wireless access where previous incarnations were wired. The USPTO seems to agree.

        The USPTO also agreed that patenting the double-click was a good idea. Not to mention "One click storing of consumer information" that was awarded to Amazon. Or perhaps the patents that were awarded for hyperlinking.

        Point being that there is all kinds of silly use of patents that have been awarded and enforced by the USPTO. As it has been argued

    • While it may seem to be completely prior art BS, there are some elements that need to be addressed specifically because it is prior art. The main thing I noticed that the patent covers is a method to modify your browser specifically so that it displays affiliated ads when it is connected to Google's hotspots, and then to NOT show those ads when it is connected to someone else's hotspot. That is a big concern, as simply installing software that displays ads at all times regardless of which internet provide
    • Creating patents on an idea that doesn't have technical merit is not "good".

      "Technical merit" has never been the standard of patentability - not throughout the entire history of the patent system (the U.S.'s or anyone else's.) In fact, recent court decisions have disavowed that ideas even need to be "technical" in order to qualify for patents. Even better, "technical" inventions without a business aspect are rejected: they are merely scientific concepts.

      Patents are about novel business concepts - alwa

      • Good point. However, I wasn't arguing the criteria for obtaining a patent. I am merely pointing out that frivolous use of patents is not "good".
        • I am merely pointing out that frivolous use of patents is not "good".

          I completely agree. But there are already so many misconceptions about patents amongst Slashdotters that I felt compelled to clarify this one point.

          - David Stein

    • Microsoft is trying to patent the double click [uspto.gov]. Duh!
  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:58AM (#15011000) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone know how many patents google has? And how many patent applications they've filed? How many are hardware and how many software? I tried googling for it and (ironically?) found no answers.

    We know how many patents Microsoft has [msversus.org] and that they apply for an average of 10 per week (at last count). So I'm curious how Google compares.
  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:02AM (#15011027) Homepage
    Let see patent 20060058019 [uspto.gov] if for changing your browser display to show the vendor or ad, Cisco has been providing this for years. The only thing that may make it different is that it requires that it is for free access.
    Then 20060059044 [uspto.gov] in there words "the appearance of a screen presented on the client device is modified to reflect the bran associated with a provider of the access point. " This is what was seen in free dial-up services a long time ago, only difference now it is wireless.
    Finally 20060059043 [uspto.gov] is one to provide free access by displaying ads. Again this was done at various times through dial-up and cable organizations.
    It should not rate a patent to get something that was done under dial-up and cable and change it to wireless.
    • And in a logical world, even those shouldn't have been given any sort of patent, because the concept of using commercial sponsors to subsidise goods or services has been around for centuries. Granting a patent for using an existing and well-known business model to operate a business is not new or innovative, irrespective of what that business happens to be.
  • As far as I can tell these are just patent applications. No patents have been awarded for these proposals.
  • Here's a copy of a story on slashgeo.org earlier this morning, there's a link to see "Google GeoAds".

    Remember this story [slashgeo.org] about location-aware AdSense? Google is still working on various ways to geolocate ads. All Points Blog shares [allpointsblog.com] their patent application for Wi-Fi location ad delivery [clickz.com] and Google Local ads [searchenginejournal.com]. Shimon Sandler explains the link between Google Base and those GeoAds [shimonsandler.com] and adds: "Wanna see it? Go to Google Local and type in the search box, booksellers nyc. You should see a little coffee cup in addit
  • by ajkst1 ( 630286 )
    After reading this, it reminds me of the late 90's when people were handing out "free" internet access in exchange for showing ads on your screen. This is how NetZero got their start. I think the offer of free wireless internet is more appealing than free dial-up simply for the speed increase. Also, screen resolution has gotten higher, allowing for more usable space than with the ads from before. Anyone who actually used the free dial-up services knows what I'm talking about. The ads took up close to 25% of
  • If I were Google, which I'm not, I would give away the free wireless without any special patent because it's only going to help me. Why? Because Google ads are already all over the mother-loving internet. I don't need to create new ad space, it's already there, but what I can do is fine-grain my targeting so that instead of serving up an ad for a national mortgage broker, I can serve up the ad for the mortgage broker within 1 mile of the hotspot. It seems like a brilliant plan to me. You are reading an Emai
  • Either they patent it, or Microsoft/Yahoo/Somebodyelse does. It's not like they could afford to get hit by another 1B patent infringement lawsuit.
  • how hard is that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @01:34PM (#15012128) Journal
    I've not read the patents, just the basic idea in TFA. The first one talks about modifying a browser's appearance to serve up ads when connecting to a wireless access point. So here's what you do:

    1) Modify DNS so that every request gets 'wifi.google.com' appended to it (so 'slashdot.org' becomes 'slashdot.org.wifi.google.com'). Make sure DHCP is pushing your DNS servers. Correllary to this, block access to port 53 off your network.
    2) Have every request get rewritten with the same IP address, or group of IP addresses.
    3) Have a proxy server on that/those IP(s) serving up pages. The proxy discards the 'wifi.google.com' bit and gets the actual page from the real site, then rewrites the HTML, putting the original content in a frame beneath a smaller frame serving Google ads based on the content of the original page.

    There's some fleshing out to be done there, especially regarding cookies and https, but nothing that couldn't be hammered out with a whiteboard, two markers, and a six pack of Diet Berries & Cream Dr. Pepper (yumm, tastes like happy!).

    Considering pretty much every broadband provider I'm acquainted with is doing something similar (at least they're doing points #1 and #2), how much of a stretch is it to do #3? (Normally, the only do it for the first request, requiring you to accept their TOS. Hotels usually require it on every initial connect.)

    Now, I don't know for certain that this is what the Google engineers have come up with. Maybe they're much more clever than I (nah, couldn't be). But whatever it is, it's going to look very similar to this. And if I can come up with this solution two minutes after reading the words "show ads on a browser to pay for wifi", how in the world could they think it qualifies for a patent???
  • Google came into the online advertising world late and they are lucky no one patented online advertising before them. Yes Overture did something disgusting but that was late into the game, we're talking advertising, banners, CPM, CPC, not just bidding. Google is morphing into a disguting filthy animal. I don't care if "they're just as bad as anyone else", they are actually worse than the pioneers who paved the way for them and didnt set up patent landmines.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison

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