Business & Finance
Commentary
8/12/2005
06:56 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: Online Gambling, Patents, And Trump U?

If you believe, as I do, that it's only a matter of time and technology until online gambling is legal in the United States (though to judge from the number of Americans already indulging, a lot already think it is), the technology part may be closer than you realize. A company called Global Cyber Licensing LLC has been knocking on doors recently, trying to get funding for technology that may solve one of the issues holding back Internet gambling. "We see ourselves as a tool of the regulators," says Paul Siegel, VP of product development for Global Cyber. The company says its technology allows a gambler's location to be verified by the global positioning system, which solves one of the regulators' thorniest problems: how to keep online gambling within state lines (gambling is regulated on the state level). Nevada legalized intrastate gambling a couple of years ago, but regulators have been stuck on how to enforce it. Also, Native American casinos, which are on tribal land and not subject to federal laws, are looking for ways to ensure the identities and location of potential online gamblers. Siegel's company needs about $6 million to finish the software work necessary to make the system compatible with multiple Internet gambling devices, and to get an "associated equipment" license from Nevada gambling officials. The company is in discussions with "a Fortune 500 company that's invested a lot of money in online stuff over the last six to eight months," says Siegel. Maybe he'll hit the jackpot.

Amazon.com settled a patent dispute last week by licensing a Chicago company's intellectual property for $40 million. What's remarkable about the settlement, other than the fact that patent issues are more and more central to the technology discussion--witness the highly charged disputes going on between Gateway and Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion and NTP--is that this settlement resolves one of the more controversial patent issues falling out from the dot-com bust. Amazon settled several patent claims with Soverain Software, including a couple sometimes referred to as the "shopping cart" patents. Soverain acquired these patents from Divine Inc., which acquired them in 2001 from Open Market, an early E-commerce technology vendor. These claims, epitomized by patent No. 5,909,492--"Network Sales System"--were criticized when they were issued in the late 1990s as typical of the vague and overly broad "business-method" patents related to the Internet being churned out by the Patent Office. Amazon vowed to fight the patent claims when the litigation was filed last year.

Donald Trump, the self-promoting real-estate mogul, last week launched The Trump Blog, which resides on the Web site of Trump University(?!). Trump's blog will be "reflective of what's topical in the news, business, and education, [though] he won't tackle popular culture or entertainment," said Michael Sexton, president of Trump University. But he will tackle himself. In a typical passage, Trump wrote: "The glamour and grandeur of my buildings and my life are no mere trappings."

Hey, me too! Certainly, the glamour and grandeur of "The News Show" are no mere trappings--check it out at www.TheNewsShow.tv, or on www.informationweek.com. If you spot a trapping, or have an industry tip, send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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