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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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Have Internet? The Lawsuit the Entire Hotel Industry Is Watching

08/11/2015

As an update to our first article on the lawsuit filed by Nomadix against Blueprint RF, a federal judge ruled allegations of deceiving federal patent examiners could go forward against Nomadix Inc. (an NTT Docomo Company).

The allegations are counterclaims by smaller rival and defendant Blueprint RF which Nomadix accused of patent infringement. Chief among the accusations is an alleged infringement on the concept of a captive portal page. The page is what a user sees when logging into a hotel, airport, coffee house or any other Wi-Fi system that requires log in.

The ruling in the U.S. District of Central California turns the tables on Nomadix, which sued Blueprint RF in October 2014. Nomadix accused the company of infringing on 10 patents, but since has withdrawn three of the patents acknowledging that Blueprint RF does not perform those claims.

Blueprint RF responded in counterclaims that the patents were invalid and unenforceable because of the alleged fraud perpetrated by Nomadix. If the court finds for Blueprint RF, the claims could apply to all seven patents remaining.

Blueprint RF’s accusations of inequitable conduct contain enough specific information to meet the legal standard to overcome Nomadix’s motion to dismiss the counterclaims, Judge Dean D. Pregerson ruled on June 29. Inequitable conduct is considered to be a form of non-criminal fraud.

Nomadix had sought to dismiss the counterclaims, saying the allegations were too general to meet any legal standard to go forward.

Blueprint RF’s allegations are supported by the identities of Nomadix representatives who might have engaged in the scheme, including names of attorneys who filed the Nomadix patents at issue. Further, the allegations include a clear description of how Nomadix representatives might have carried out the scheme, the judge ruled.

Blueprint RF’s counterclaims also include sufficient specific information indicating that the Nomadix lawyers knew they intended to deceive the patent officials, “given the totality of the circumstances,” Pregerson said.

The purported misconduct includes “burying” the patent examiners with sometimes thousands of documents, drawings and other information related to development of the patented technology. This practice can obscure key information, but allows the company to avoid the outright withholding information relevant to its patents.

Blueprint RF says the allegedly infringed patents are outdated and have been available to the public since 1998. Nomadix has been a very influential company in the early evolution of the guest internet network. In the early days of HSIA, business users where the focus and public IPs and VPNs were a pain point. This is not the case anymore. 

The suit is the latest of many filed by Nomadix, a dominant player in the hospitality technology industry. Nomadix has pursued giants in the industry in similar lawsuits. AT&T Corp.’s hospitality business subsidiaries, the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Wayport, Inc. are among companies that settled cases with Nomadix.

Our focus on this law suit is primarily the cost hotels pay in what we call royalty fees (known as license fees) that many HSIA providers charge properties because of past patents, law suits and so on. Millions of dollars that could be spent on innovation are spent on tribute. 

Other industry experts agree and suggest suing competitors so often stifles competition.

“I’d thought the litigation had run its course until this,” said Mark Holzberg, a hospitality technology executive and entrepreneur. Technological advances are more likely if the industry “Spent less time on litigation and more time developing their technology,” said Holzberg, a principal of HT Solutions LLC and formerly the chief executive officer of Lorica Solutions, head of Swisscom’s Hospitality’s North American & Global Managed Services, and the chief financial officer of TravelClick.

If Blueprint RF can win this case it would be a financial turning point for HSIA in the industry.  We will continue to keep an eye on this situation as it develops. 

About The Author
Trevor Warner

Warner Consulting Group


Trevor Warner is an industry expert and consulting for the hospitality technology field.

 
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