Google has filed and published the following patent applications:
(1) Method and system to provide wireless access at a reduced rate:
Methods and system for providing wireless access at a reduced rate. In one embodiment, access to a WAP is provided to an end-user at a rate subsidized by a first entity. The first entity includes advertisements in an end-user view.
which sounds like a Google (secure) proxy that modifies passing-though HTML
(2) Method and system to provide advertisements based on wireless access points:
Methods and system to provide advertisements in a view of an end user accessing a wireless access point. The advertisements are related to the WAP based on a predetermined criterion.
aka contextual advertising for Wifi
(3) Method and system for dynamically modifying the appearance of browser screens on a client device:
In one embodiment, a connection of a client device to a wireless access point is identified. Further, the appearance of a screen presented on the client device is modified to reflect the brand associated with a provider of the wireless access point.
aka the ‘captive portal’
What troubles me here is the way patents are being used:
- “don’t be evil” version: Google is just filing some good and/or obvious ideas, just so that the next guy won’t do it and sue them for using their own idea.
- “be blatantly evil” version: Google is filing the patents to make sure no one can do the same thing, to block the market with broad, mediocre patents
Patents are there to create a window of opportunity to develop an original and innovative idea, not to be misused by patent trolls.
I don’t like patents in software (although I’m co-author for one application – everyone has the right to change his opinion). It’s silly to have 20-year patents in a world moving that fast, and the US Patent and Trademark office does not have the best track record at deciding what is original or worth giving a patent to.