Boingo awarded patent for hotspot access

Boingo Wireless has been awarded a patent covering the method and apparatus for accessing networks through a mobile device (patent No. 7,483,984). According to Boingo, the methods covered by the patent include “accessing wireless carrier networks by mobile computing devices, where a client software application hosted by the device accesses carrier networks using wireless access points. For example, when a computer – or netbook, smartphone or any other Wi-Fi-enabled device – is in a location where there are multiple signals, the patented technology looks at each signal and alerts the user which signal will work, showing the signal as an understandable name and ID for the user. The patent covers all wireless technologies and spectrums, as well as any mobile device that access wireless hotspots.”

“This patent represents a huge addition to Boingo’s intellectual property,” said David Hagan, CEO and President, Boingo Wireless, Inc. “As the leader in Wi-Fi networks, Boingo is absolutely committed to making it easy for our customers to get online with one simple click. This patent highlights our commitment.”

“The technology covered by the patent is used in the Boingo client software for both laptop and a wide array of mobile platforms, including Android, iPhone, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile,” said Niels Jonker, Boingo’s chief technology officer and a co-author of the patent. “With this patent, Boingo cements its position as a leader in authentication and verification of various wireless technologies, making it easier for a user to find the right network and connect with it, in a seamless presentation and user experience.”

While patents can be valuable intellectual property for a company, the most important measure of a company’s success is still its profitability. It is better to be in a situation where users love your product or service, and are willing to pay for it (and your margins are fat) than to spend all your time and money writing patent applications. The usability and usefulness of your product should be the focus. There are many firms that use patents to scare off potential competitors without delivering any tangible value to anyone and perhaps they are successful in doing so. We know of companies whose only business model is to sue potential infringers and collect settlement money. Nevertheless, investors in tech companies like Boingo want to see not just lots of users, but also patents and other forms of intellectual property.