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Special Report by Cleverdis- Defending Intellectual Property
The Evolution of the HSIA Market Playing with the Big Boys...The hotelier’s world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Various fields of hotel technologies are galloping ahead at the speed of light, and as part of this, High Speed Internet Access (HSIA) has become a major factor for the hotelier to consider. The sector has developed in leaps and bounds largely due to the fruits of intense Research and Development.
In a Serious Game:
This SPECIAL report notably retraces the work and ideas of a key person involved in that development, known today as “the father of the Internet”, Dr Leonard Kleinrock… work the value of which has only really been fully recognised in recent years (he received the National Science Medal from President George W. Bush). Kleinrock’s team at UCLA spawned what is today known as the Internet 40 years ago, and in 1995, he launched “Nomadix”, an organisation developing hardware and software to facilitate nomadic computing. Thus in the late 90’s, he was the first to develop many of the applications that today we take for granted when connecting to the web at a hotel or in a public place.
Over the past decade, many companies have been developing applications in this field, but only recently have some bigger players started to enter the stage. To this end, DOCOMO interTouch, a subsidiary of the massive Japanese telecom operator NTT DOCOMO bought Nomadix and all its intellectual property. Naturally, given the company’s weight in the marketplace, they have begun a process of defending these rights; a process explained in this document.
Indeed, as the field of HSIA in public places is growing in importance, the value of the patents at the heart of its various technologies also increases and while in the past, patents have sometimes gone undefended, the era of the “Far West” is today behind us. Today, litigating on the issue of Nomadix’s intellectual property, DOCOMO interTouch seek to validate their patents.
This SPECIAL report thus aims to underline the importance for hoteliers and solution providers to understand the value of protecting and respecting intellectual and industrial property rights in this sector. We thus explain in some detail this extraordinary case, which we believe will have major repercussions on the HSIA market in hotels.
Defending Valuable Ideas to Better Build for the Future
DOCOMO interTouch Chief Executive Officer Charles Reed Underlines Importance of “Standing Up” for Intellectual Property
Over the history of Nomadix, there have been various shareholders, and we at DoCoMo interTouch are now the current ones. A considerable amount of capital has been invested into developing leadingedge technology at Nomadix, and the investment includes protecting the Nomadix technologies through intellectual property. And going forward, we need to continue investing.
When people copy someone else’s intellectual property, it devalues it, making it very difficult to get a return on investment. This is at the heart of patent law: “if you are prepared to invest in innovation, you should be able reap the benefits of that innovation”. In the Nomadix IP portfolio, DOCOMO interTouch currently holds over 100 patents, and this is a core value of our operation.
Defending the ideas of great scientists
The recognition of true pioneering is important, and the fruits of the toils of Nomadix’s co-founders, Dr. Kleinrock and the late Dr. Short, both great scientists and innovators, should be accorded the value they deserve. Their innovations are fundamentally important in providing millions of people with the ability to travel virtually anywhere in the world and to connect to the Internet in any hotel or hot spot and gain immediate access to the resources they need. We need to protect the intellectual property that secures these innovations, and continue to build upon it.
The building blocks
It really is important to us that our intellectual property be recognised so that we can invest more into it and get a better return on investment. It’s all about being able to dedicate more resources so that we may innovate more, create more, and try to do more things with HSIA. The Internet is becoming a commodity in the hotel sector today and if people will recognise our patents and respect our intellectual property rights, then we can invest more and develop such things as tiered bandwidth, multiple applications and tiered services, and truly bring above-property HSIA services to the next level.
Chief Executive Officer
The “Father of The Internet”
Dr Leonard Kleinrock Explains Motivation Behind Creating Nomadix
Dr Leonard Kleinrock
Dr. Kleinrock is considered a father of the Internet, having laid down the basic principles of packet switching a decade before his Host computer at UCLA became the first node ever to connect to the Internet in September 1969. He has published over 225 papers and authored six books on a wide array of subjects including packet switching networks, packet radio networks, local area networks, broadband networks, gigabit networks and nomadic computing. Dr. Kleinrock is a UCLA principal investigator for DARPA, where he is at the forefront of efforts to create infrastructures necessary to enable nomadic computing.
Connecting people in public places. That was the original brief of Nomadix when Dr Kleinrock established it along with a brilliant young partner, a former underling at UCLA, Joel Short, back in the late 1990’s. The company would go on to create some of the most useful technologies in the HSIA sector. We asked Dr Kleinrock what his “vision” was at that time…
In 1990, I was one of the first researchers to look into the area of what we now call “nomadic computing.” It was clear that people were taking their laptops and moving around and becoming more nomadic. I was supervising graduate students at the time and a few years later I began working with a graduate student by the name of Joel Short, a most impressive young man. His dissertation was one that touched upon nomadic computing – specifically on wireless mesh networks. I was quite impressed with Joel and, as it turned out, I had also backed-off a bit from formal university teaching as I had just stepped down as chairman of the Computer Science department in 1995. So as this young man had a practical insight, a technical insight and engineering insight, I thought it might be interesting and fun to form a company with him and see where it goes. And of course there was the domain of nomadic computing sitting there in front of us, basically unexplored and about to explode. We sat down and decided ’let’s take a shot at this’. We informally created this company called ‘Nomadix’ on a sofa in my home in the late 1990’s.
What was your vision at that time?
We saw that laptops were getting smaller and less expensive. We were seeing the things that people carried on their waist, be it a pager or a cell phone with some small functionality… we could see where that was heading. It was clear that people were becoming more nomadic. We could see that the applications would arise and we had experimented with some of that in our own company laboratories. I was writing papers at the time anticipating the rise of nomadic computing and this was an ideal time to help realise that vision. And the idea was not so much to become a dynamic large business but rather to get the technology out there to allow this capability to be employed which by the way was the same motivation that started the Internet.
We were basically trying to get a technology out into the domain of the users, which in the Internet case allowed connectivity and in this case allowed “nomadicity”.
HSIA in hotels in particular is as expected as hot and cold running water in the bathroom. How pervasive is this technology going to become in the coming years?
That’s a rather interesting question. The fundamental need, which was the idea of nomadic computing, the ability to go anywhere, with any device, and at any time connect … that is not only a rising need, it’s as you say an ability that people expect just like running water. But connecting people to networks wherever they go presents many challenges. For example, when you move your laptop from one location in a home environment to another, it may reach out and try to find the router it knows. When you leave that environment and travel across the street or the country or even the world, the environment you find doesn’t have your proxy, doesn’t have your router, doesn’t have your firewall, and on those other networks you are an alien. And we felt that was an important problem, because people are taking their laptops and they are moving around and they had no easy way to gain access to the infrastructures of the environments they approached. It was a very significant problem and we had a very good idea how to solve it. So we tackled that problem. But it’s not only in hotels of course, or from office to office, it’s out in the street as well. The reliance on the need for connectivity when you arrive at your foreign destination can be satisfied with our technology.
The New Utility
HSIA in Hotels… as Essential in the Hotel Room as Light and Water
HSIA has become a fundamental technology offering in hospitality, and the key to its success lies in its reliability, stability and security when it comes to complementing and enhancing the guest service. Just how important is a good HSIA service? We put the question to DOCOMO interTouch EVP of Global Sales and Marketing, Michael Hopkins…
HSIA has become as fundamental as all the other services in the room such as lighting and water. Some are terming it the “fourth utility” and that’s quite true. We believe that the secret lies in finding the right solution for each hotel and their individual needs, and understanding how dynamic the guests’ requirements are in terms of the fact that they are changing very quickly.
Traditionally, in the early days, the Internet was used for communication and information: for email and surfing the web. Today, more and more, it is part of the entertainment experience.
People are streaming video entertainment of various kinds into the room, and this is becoming increasingly popular. The broadband experience and the amount of bandwidth provided to the guest therefore either enhances or detracts from the user experience in the room.
By the same token, we are noting that the traditional video on demand service is seeing an ongoing decline.
And people want to be able to choose what bandwidth they need…
Yes. We’ve already implemented and tested this in a number of partner hotels. Now it is possible to offer guests standard connectivity or a premium service. The standard service may be offered at a lower price, or in some cases as part of the room rate, while if you want dedicated bandwidth there is an additional price.
To what point is Doctor Kleinrock seen as a “philosophical founding father” within your organisation?
Dr Kleinrock was one of the true innovators. The fact that you can sit down today in an airport lounge and connect to a network without doing anything other than opening up a web page is an incredible statement of how his innovations affect our way of life. He is the philosophical father behind what we do.
What differentiates DOCOMO interTouch in this sector?
We are leveraging upon Dr Kleinrock’s legacy and building upon it in order to continue offering what we consider to be the preeminent gateway technology, centering the experience around guest requirements.
Executive Vice President,
Global Sales & Marketing
The Riches of Research
A Sampling of Nomadix’s Patented Innovations
Nomadix’s patent portfolio includes more than 100 patents in various countries around the world. The patents include many ideas relating to network connectivity, most if not all being useful in the hospitality industry. The following is a small sampling of some of the valuable ideas that are protected in the portfolio.
The ‘892 And ‘727 Patents
The inventors of the ’892 and ‘727 patents conceived of the idea of having the gateway on the foreign network pretend to be the home network of the visiting computer. In this manner, the gateway could facilitate network connection completely transparent to the user, who would not have to make any configuration changes.
The ‘894 Patent
Building on the innovation of a gateway that could pretend to be the visiting computer’s home network, the inventors on the ‘894 patent further conceived that the gateway should track each user who connects to the network, and came up with the very useful feature of forcing the visiting computer’s Web browser to access a login portal page (e.g., Hotel Login Page) instead of the user’s home page (e.g., Google), while making it appear to the user’s Web browser as if it had successfully accessed its normal home page.
The ‘399 Patent
Further building upon the innovations of a gateway on a foreign network that could transparently provide network connection service and that could also control and restrict visiting computers’ access, Nomadix’s inventors conceived of integrating the gateway with existing, computer-based management systems. Thus, in the ‘399 Patent, the inventors realized that the innovative gateway could be modified to communicate network usage information to existing property management systems and thereby automatically add charges to users’ hotel bills based on their network usage.
The ‘009 Patent
Often, a user’s computer is configured to use a proxy service as an intermediate traffic router between the user’s computer and the rest of the Internet, and the proxy service hides the user computer’s IP address from the rest of the Internet by using its own IP address instead. However, when the user is attempting a network connection on a foreign network, his computer will seek out the pre-configured proxy server, which may not exist on the foreign network. Nomadix’s inventors conceived of a ‘transparent proxy’ whereby a gateway on the foreign network pretends to be and mimics the user’s proxy server, allowing network/internet access as expected by the user’s computer without any need for re-configuration.
Gérard Lefebvre has held positions of Director and Chairman with a number of companies in the Display and Digital Peripherals Industry. He is recognised world-wide by industry leaders and the management of major end-user organisations for his work in creating true, efficient and sincere communication between top corporate buyers, specialised channel and top vendors. Gérard currently heads Cleverdis, which he founded in 1997. Gérard is graduated from Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP-EAP 1977) with a specialisation in International Finance.
The foundation of investment in Research and Development is a kind of “wise wager” based on an understanding that there should be a subsequent Return on Investment in relation to the stakes of the game if true innovation results from that R&D. This is why, when a company develops a totally new solution in any field, it is usual for them to file patents that legally protect their intellectual property. Upon seeing the value of the patents held by Nomadix, its new mother company, DOCOMO interTouch, decided to pursue any fi rm it believes has “borrowed” its intellectual property. As DOCOMO interTouch President Charles Reed points out, unless his company can be sure that its patents are respected, what point is there to invest further in R&D? We believe that the attitude and actions of DOCOMO interTouch in the vehement defence of its intellectual property are a kind of “wake up call” for this industry, which will cause some companies to reconsider the importance of verifying intellectual property when developing new products.
Contact DOCOMO interTouch for further information:
DOCOMO interTouch Pte. Ltd.
89C Science Park Drive
#03-09/12 The Rutherford
Singapore Science Park 1
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