Surfkitchen, a provider of ODP (On Device Portal) is on the way to have a UK patent that – if I understand it well – might generate a lot of troubles if granted. This patent cover the download of dynamically generated data that is trigerred by an SMS.
First, let’s look at the abstract:
Abstract of EP1536613
A method of server initiated download of information is described. When a server (5) determines that content (26,28) is stored which is to be made available to a remote device (1;2) the server (5) dispatches a signal to the appropriate remote device (1,2) in the form of a non HTTP message such as an SMS message which has a predefined format. When such a signal is received, this indicates to the remote device (1;2) that content to download exists. A browser program (14) on the remote device (1;2) then responds to the received message by forming a conventional HTTP link to the server (5) and requests location data identifying the location of content (26,28) to download from the server (5). When the browser program (14) receives the requested location data the browser program (14) utilises the location data to generate instructions to cause copies of the content (26;28) to be downloaded via the HTTP link.
So the patent seems to cover the fact that you notify a mobile through SMS that a content is available on the server. Then, the mobile answer by forming an HTTP request to download this content from the server.
This seems quite broad, and might cover many existing services/technologies:
- MMS ( See Wikipedia definition ) . A notification is send to the client, using SMS or Wap Push and then the phone generate an HTTP request to download the contents.
- Wap Push, more generally speaking, is just sending a link (an URL) to a mobile phone, so it trigger by definition an HTTP request.
If you dig one step further, it appears that the patent highlight the fact that it’s not really an URL to the exact location which is sent. It only trigger the fact that some informations are available, and then, the server identify the user and only send the relevant information….
-  Having the server 5 send an initial content update signal which indicates the existence of content to be downloaded from the server 5 but which does not indicate the location of that content gives rise to many advantages.
-  Firstly as the signal does not identify the location of any particular item of content, a single signal can be sent to a remote device to enable the remote device 1, 2 to download multiple items of content. The fact that a single signal can be sent reduces the amount of data which is transmitted to the remote device via the non http link.
-  Additionally, since data identifying the locations of content to be downloaded only needs to be generated after the browser program 14 has initiated a communications link between the remote device 1; 2 and the server 5, this data will identify current locations for content to be downloaded even when there is a delay between the sending of the initial content update signal and the initiating of a communications link by the browser program 14. The possibility that content from within the content store 24 is deleted in the interim between notification of the existence of content and the dispatch of a request to download content from a location and hence a requested item of content is no longer available is therefore reduced.
Translation: the data to be downloaded is created dynamically. In other words, the link might be http://myservice.com/get/tomsoft ( or just http://myservices.com/get if the user is automatically identified) and then the answer content depend of the user: it’s a dynamic content/page creation….
So if the result of the SMS sent is a dynamic page, then you might be concerned by this patent.
It might be the case of SyncML, where HTTP synchronisation can be triggered by an SMS for instance.
In fact, many services trigerred by SMS might be covered by this patent. MobileScope have plenty of these, but we are not the only one in the industry. Of course, as a competitor to SurfKitchen, we are more concerned by such patent.
But many deployement of applications are done through SMS/WapPush, and it’s not always a link a static ressource, but to a ressource that might depend of your handset for instance.
Note: the patent is not yet awarded, but in a final phase.
So I would be curious to get your feedback/views on this? Does anybody in the industry feel concerned by this?