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Think about the moment when you first enter your hotel room. Look around: Does the room tell you anything unique about the hotel where you are staying? Or is it all beige walls and double beds with white covers, and you have to walk back outside and look at the sign on the hotel’s facade to even remember where you are?

Hotel guests commonly bring multiple devices with them during their stay. However, many hotel environments don’t provide easy access to charging outlets. This situation can lead to a guest feeling more than inconvenienced. A recent survey found almost 90 percent of people "felt panic" when their phone battery dropped to 20 percent or below.

Spam is one of the major problems that most hotel website owners face on regular basis. It is a bad practice used by spammers to persuade the page rank of a site.

GBTA recently partnered with AccorHotels to conduct a study investigating the role of loyalty in managed travel programs in Europe with the goal of understanding how loyalty programs currently fit within company travel policy and what opportunities may exist in the future.

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. 



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Nomadix vs. Blueprint RF Update: The Nomadix Patent Case Explained

11/11/2015

For more than a year a fight has been brewing between Blueprint RF and Nomadix over Internet gateway patents. As the lawsuit begins to find clarity there are two basic functions that remain in dispute, the captive-portal or login page and PMS-billing connection fees to guestrooms. 

While the case remains pending before a federal judge in California, we found out that Blueprint RF filed for Inter Partes Review (IPR) of the captive-portal patents with the U.S. Patent Office. Blueprint RF submitted over 40 pieces of the evidence to the patent office, which has the power to invalidate the patents in question. The IPR process takes approximately 18 months and historically has found roughly 80 percent of the patents submitted for review to be invalid.

One of the most interesting aspects of the court case surrounds who was first to develop portal page redirection. Blueprint RF contends that Nomadix filed its patent applications nearly a year after the technology was implemented by competitor, the Connect Group, and many months after it was demonstrated at the 1998 HITEC.

Evidence shows that Nomadix filed its first provisional patent application in December 1998 and claims to have had portal page redirection working in March 1999. Blueprint RF asserts that the Connect Group had portal page redirection working in January 1998 and in commercial service by March 1998, followed by ATCOM with its IPORT server in July 1998. 

Nomadix’s case against Blueprint’s claims relies on an expert opinion saying that a comment in the Connect Group source code indicates that the Connect Group’s portal page redirection was not actually working until May 1999, two months after Nomadix had its “captive portal” working.  With respect to IPORT, Nomadix contends that the evidence should be ignored because the documentation is unclear.

Blueprint RF has submitted testimony from Michael Slemmer, the primary author of the Connect Group software, who explained that the May 1999 date refers to the date he left the company and saved the code into a special storage facility, not when he wrote the portal page redirection code. Slemmer testified that portal page redirection was working in January 1998 and in commercial service in March 1998 at the San Jose Hilton followed by other hotels.

Slemmer’s testimony is upheld by three witnesses including John Gengarella, the hotel’s general manager and Connect Group investor, who originally had the idea of redirecting hotel guests to a payment page as a financially viable way to bring high-speed Internet into the hotel.  Charles Katz, the Connect Group’s chief financial officer, testified that he was present at the successful demonstration of the technology at the June 1998 HITEC.  Stanford University programmer Andrew Roper also testified that portal page redirection was working when he interned with the Connect Group during the summer of 1998.

Slemmer, Gengarella and Katz all emphasized that the successful demonstration of portal page redirection in June 1998 led to the multi-million purchase of the Connect Group by LodgeNet, which was announced at the 1998 HITEC. That testimony is supported by press coverage in June 1998, an invention disclosure written by Slemmer in September 1998, a patent application filed in November 1998, and a sale covering 11,800 rooms in 120 Wingate Inns locations signed in January 1999—all before Nomadix claims to have first come up with the idea.

On the ATCOM side, Blueprint RF presented Keith Olson, the primary author of the IPORT software.  He testified that ATCOM was so impressed with the Connect Group gateway at the June 1998 HITEC conference that they immediately set out to come up with their own version. The IPORT “server only” version 2.0 was released a month later in July 1998 followed by IPORT Central Office in October 1998.  Olson’s testimony is backed up by another IPORT programmer who said that IPORT portal page redirection was already developed and on sale when he started working for ATCOM in November 1998.  That testimony is supported by a wealth of press coverage, two “White Papers” published on the IPORT website in November 1998, and the IPORT User’s Manual dated April 1999.

Blueprint RF contends that they have found the “smoking gun” to free the industry of these patents and open the way for new development and innovation.  It’s up to the federal court and the patent office to make the final decision. 

Lodgenet Acquires Connect Group

Internet Access for the Road Warrior Easier Than Ever, IPORT™ Version 2.0 Released

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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