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The Internet is a publicly accessible system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). Some refer to the "Internet" when in actuality they intend to say the World Wide Web (WWW).

The Internet is composed of hardware and software - often complex components that have evolved significantly, and continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Each advancement consists of relatively small improvements - it is these small improvements that have carried forward the overall technological advancement.

Each innovation requires a considerable amount of resources - often investigation to determine whether a problem even exists, followed by various trials and experiments, and work towards a viable commercialization of any technological advancement found.

Preivously, we explored software patents and the controversey some have put forth. In today's business environment, investors are hesitant to place their money into any investment without some kind of guarantee or protection. Patents provide these assurances to investors.

Due to the sheer volume of patents - it truly is a monumental task to come up with a definitve list of all of the relevant Internet patents. However, we feel that we have found several Internet patents that are a decent sampling of relevant Internet related patents. We would not be surprised at all to hear of other internet related patents we may have inadvertently missed.

The criteria we used in arriving at which patents to place on this list include:

  • Contribution to the advancement of Internet technology (by introducing some insight or solving a problem not previously recognized as a problem)

  • Generated significant revenues or have the potential to generate signifcant revenues

  • Well engineered Claims that are solid and may provide assurances to investors (such as causing difficulty for competitors to blatantly rip off the innovations)

  • Caused some controversy or stir in the community

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - RSA Algorithm

Cryptographic communications system and method

Inventors: Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, Leonard Adleman

Issued: September 20, 1983

Filed: December 14, 1977

Selected statement:

Briefly, the present invention includes at least one encoding device, at least one decoding device, and a communication channel, where the encoding and decoding devices are coupled to the channel. The encoding device is responsive to an applied message-to-be-transmitted M and an encoding key to provide a ciphertext word C for transmission to a particular decoding device. The encoding key E is a pair of positive integers e and n which are related to the particular decoding device. The message M is a number representative of a message-to-be-transmitted and wherein

where n is a composite number of the form

ps where p and q are prime numbers.

For messages represented by numbers outside the range 0 to n-1, a conventional blocking means is utilized to break the message into message block words before encoding, where each block word is representative of a number within the specified range. Following subsequent decoding, the recovered block words may be transformed back to the original message.

RSA released the patent into the public domain literally just before the patent was to expire. Up until that point, a significant amount of revenues were generated for RSA which helped grow the company (and a variety of related companies such as Security Dynamics, VeriSign). RSA was eventually sold to EMC for $2.1billion.

The RSA algorithm was and continues to be an important cryptographic element in Public Key Infrastructures (PKI) and online electronic commerce. RSA provides two keys - a public key and a private key that enable secure communications to take place. The keys can be used for signing as well as encryption.

The patent allowed RSA to charge a 2% license fee.

1. A cryptographic communications system comprising:

A. a communications channel,

B. an encoding means coupled to said channel and adapted for transforming a transmit message word signal M to a ciphertext word signal C and for transmitting C on said channel,

where M corresponds to a number representative of a message and

where n is a composite number of the form

where p and q are prime numbers, and

where C corresponds to a number representative of an enciphered form of said message and corresponds to

where e is a number relatively prime to 1 cm(p-1,q-1), and

C. a decoding means coupled to said channel and adapted for receiving C from said channel and for transforming C to a receive message word signal M'

where M' corresponds to a number representative of a deciphered form of C and corresponds to

where d is a multiplicative inverse of e(mod(1 cm((p-1),(q-1)))).

Netscape Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

Old Netscape Navigator logo

Secure socket layer application program apparatus and method

Inventors: Taher Elgamel, Kipp Hickman

Issued: April 6, 1999

Filed: October 31, 1995

Selected statement:

In one aspect, the invention provides a sockets application program interface bound to a security protocol which is layered between an application layer and transport layer. The socket interface is widely used in network environments. This facilitates integration of the invention into a wide range of host machines connected to a network. Placing the security protocol between the application layer and the transport layer enables many different types of application programs to employ the new security with only slight modification. Moreover, the security protocol can communicate with many different operating system platforms without requiring operating system changes.

Netscape created the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to facilitate secure online e-commerce. At the time of inception, there were many competitors to SSL. Additionally, prior efforts into similar research (such as Secure Network Programming (SNP) based on Berkeley sockets) did exist, however, within a relatively short amount of time, SSL emerged as the defacto mechanism to secure transaction between a web browser and web server.

The inventors realized that any solution to securing online e-commerce would need to be easy to fit with existing Internet socket programming as well as provide robust security. SSL cleverly did that.

"...the invention provides a sockets application program interface bound to a security protocol which is layered between an application layer and transport layer."

Essentially, SSL uses a handshaking sequence to bootstrap and secure a connection between two communicating parties (the client and the server). The handshake sequence uses three protocols:

  • the "SSL Handshake Protocol" (establishes Client and Server SSL session)

  • the "SSL Change Cipher Spec protocol" (establishing agreement on the Cipher suite for the session)

  • the "SSL Alert Protocol" (to convey SSL error messages between Client and Server).

These messages are encapsulated in the "SSL Record Protocol" along with the application protocol data.

1. A method for routing a data packet in a collaborative computing system comprising:

fragmenting the data packet into one or more data cells, each data cell including a header and a payload;

inserting into the header of each data cell a packet identification code and a cell identification code;

establishing a link between an originating collaborative computing node and a receiving collaborative computing node by transmitting a signal cell from the originating collaborative computing node to the receiving collaborative computing node without transmitting a signal cell from the receiving collaborative computing node to the originating collaborative computing node;

transmitting each data cell from the originating collaborative computing node to one or more receiving collaborative computing nodes; and

combining each data cell at each receiving collaborative computing node into a packet containing the same information as the data packet.

Amazon 1-click

Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network : 5,960,411

Inventors: Peri Hartman, Jeff Bezos, Shel Kaphan, Joel Spiegel

Issued: September 28, 1999

Filed: September 12, 1997

Selected statement:

An embodiment of the present invention provides a method and system for ordering an item from a client system. The client system is provided with an identifier that identifies a customer. The client system displays information that identifies the item and displays an indication of an action (e.g., a single action such as clicking a mouse button) that a purchaser is to perform to order the identified item. In response to the indicated action being performed, the client system sends to a server system the provided identifier and a request to order the identified item. The server system uses the identifier to identify additional information needed to generate an order for the item and then generates the order.

In 1997 Amazon realized that it might be able to increase sales by creating a simpler system to purchase items online. Jeff Bezos and company created a method for placing an order to purchase items with a single mouse click by identifying the user and the item and providing a single action to click.

After the patent issued, a controversey started. Many said this should not be patentable, however interestingly enough, is that no-one else bothered to do this. Which leads one to question whether anyone recognized the problem, or that improved efficiencies could be gained. Patents were originally created to benefit both the patentee and the public (due to the disclosure of otherwise proprietary information that would be kept private).

Needless to say, the patent did advance technology, and the controversey it created is undisputable.

A bounty was created to help find any prior art before September 28, 1997 that may invalidate Amazon's patent. This did lead to the discovery of one prior art but which only prompted the Examiner to push back on some of the Claims. If anything, this invalidation helped to strengthen Amazon's patent by focusing and refining it.

1. A method of placing an order for an item comprising:

under control of a client system,

displaying information identifying the item; and

in response to only a single action being performed, sending a request to order the item along with an identifier of a purchaser of the item to a server system;

under control of a single-action ordering component of the server system,

receiving the request;

retrieving additional information previously stored for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request; and

generating an order to purchase the requested item for the purchaser identified by the identifier in the received request using the retrieved additional information; and

fulfilling the generated order to complete purchase of the item

whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model.

Google Content Advertisements

Serving advertisements based on content

Inventors: Darrell Anderson, Paul Buchheit, Alexander Carobus, Yingwei Cui, Jeffrey Dean, Georges Harik, Deepak Jindal, Narayanan Shivakumar

Issued: November 14, 2006

Filed: February 26, 2003

Selected statement:

The present invention allows advertisers to put targeted ads on any page on the web (or some other document of any media type). The present invention may do so by (i) obtaining content that includes available spots for ads, (ii) determining ads relevant to content, and/or (iii) combining content with ads determined to be relevant to the content.

Google text advertising is considered by many to be responsible for the diminishment of banner ads.

AdSense was not provided by Google until after year 2000, yet now the number of advertisers using AdWords is astounding.

Google AdSense essentially automates much of the human component of determining where to place ads and placing those ads. Using a small Javascript snippet, Google AdSense serves up content-relevant ads within iFrames on a Google Network members site. Google Network members place this small Javascript snippet on their website or website template.

Google AdWords is the online auction service that advertisers use to bid on keywords. Using a properietary algorithm, Google matches up advertisers from AdWords with content providers using AdSense. Essentially, Google is the middle man for online advertising.

97% of Google's revenue is derived from online advertising.

Google revenues are approaching $24billion per year.

Google's profit margins are roughly 25%, or close to $6billion.

AdSense on Google Network members generate about 31% of those revenues or about $7.2billion per year. Profits on that adds up to roughly $1.8billion per year.

1. A computer-implemented method for obtaining document information for use in serving a content-relevant ad request, sourced by one of (A) a content provider serving content to a content rendering application and (B) a content rendering application, the computer-implemented method comprising:

a) returning one or more executable instructions, for reading document information, to the content rendering application;


b) setting, with the content rendering application, a document identifier, to address desired document information,

wherein the document identifier is set to address desired document information by determining whether or not the one or more executable instructions were returned to either (A) a frame embedded in a main document, or (B) a main document,

wherein the main document includes the document information, and

wherein whether or not the one or more executable instructions were returned to a frame or a main document is determined by:

(i) executing a comparison operation to compare a location to which the one or more executable instructions were returned with a main document location,

(ii) if a result of the comparison operation execution indicates that they are the same page, setting the document identifier to the location to which the one or more executable instructions were sent, and

(iii) if the result of the comparison operation execution indicates either a mismatch or a security violation, setting the document identifier to a document referrer to the location to which the one or more executable instructions were sent.

Security Dynamics - SecurId tokens

1) Method and apparatus for synchronizing generation of separate, free running, time dependent equipment

2) Method and apparatus for secure identification and verification

3) Method and apparatus for personal identification

4) Method and apparatus for utilizing a token for resource access




Selected statement:

The SecurID hardware token displays a number which changes at a set interval (aka time-synchronized one-time password). The client enters the one-time password along with a PIN when authenticating.

It is hard to determine exactly how much revenues this patent resulted in, but an estimate is all that is needed to show the value of this patent.

Three years ago RSA was recording around $75million per quarter from their SecurID tokens. That's $300million per year, at over 15 years that might be in the $1-$3billion dollar range. Who knows how much the principal inventor Kenneth P. Weiss got of that?

What makes this patent important is that it was very difficult to provide a better solution for authentication, for enterprises providing remote access it pretty much was a requirement.


7,089,208 System and method for electronically exchanging value among distributed users

Inventors: Max Levchin, Luke Nosek, Peter Thiel, Scott Banister

Issued: August 8, 2006

Filed: April 28, 2000

Selected statement:

In one embodiment of the invention a system and methods are provided for conducting a value exchange between two or more persons using a distributed value exchange system.

In this embodiment the system may comprise one or more system servers configured to register a person or other entity (e.g., a business) as a system user and allow him or her to conduct value exchange transactions with persons who may or may not also be registered users. A user then employs a client computing device (e.g., a handheld, palmtop or desktop computer, a web-enabled telephone, a two-way pager) to initiate or conduct a value transfer. The value exchange may be conducted while online with (e.g., connected to) the system, while offline, while connected (e.g., via wireless connection) to another user's device, etc. When the transaction is submitted to the system, it notifies transaction parties that are as-yet unaware of the transaction and attempts to clear or finalize the transaction and adjust the users' account balances appropriately.

1. A computer-implemented method of facilitating a value exchange between multiple users in a distributed value exchange system, the method comprising:

(a) registering a first user with the value exchange system, wherein the first user is assigned a first account with the value exchange system;

(b) receiving at the value exchange system a value exchange transaction from the first user, wherein said transaction involves a second user and includes:

(i) a pre-existing identifier of the second user, wherein the pre-existing identifier enables communication with the second user independent of the value exchange system; and

(ii) a value to be exchanged between the first user and the second user; wherein the first user sends the value exchange transaction to the value exchange system without informing the second user of the value exchange transaction; and

(c) at the value exchange system:

(i) computer-generating a notification of said value exchange transaction;

(ii) electronically sending said notification to the second user; and

(iii) prior to said electronically sending, debiting said value from one of said first account and a second account associated with the second user, and crediting said value to the other of said first account and said second account.

PayPal's patent provided a method to "conduct a value exchange between two or more persons using a distributed value exchange system". PayPal is essentially a trusted third party that allows e-commerce business transactions and money transfers to occur over the Internet.

Similar to Netscape's SSL - there were many competing solutions yet for various reasons PayPal emerged as the defacto standard for transferring money. So much so that by 2002 eBay threw in the towel on their own competitor and acquired PayPal. By that point, PayPal handled the large majority of online auction sites transactions.

NTP - wireless email

Inventors: Thomas Campana, Michael Ponschke, Gary Thelen, Andrew Andros

Issued: multiple: starting from 1995

Filed: multiple: starting from May 1994

Selected statement:

In the early 1990's, communications largely consisted of phone, fax, and pagers. Internet email existed largely in research circles. At the time, rare was the person who would have predicted email would take over corporate and personal communications in 2009. Indeed, email has become important.

The case which by now is infamous resulted in NTP receiving a settlement of $612.5 million in a patent infringement suit against Research In Motion (RIM). Say what you may, but $600million is a lot of money for a couple patents and deserves some recognition.

Graphics Interchange Format (Gif)

High speed data compression and decompression apparatus and method




Selected statement:

Also known as the LZW patent. In the 1990's this patent created much controversy because hundreds of software developers were affected. It is unclear how much this patent netted its owners.

Google PageRanking

Method for node ranking in a linked database

Inventors: Larry Page

Issued: September 4, 2001

Filed: January 9, 1998

Selected statement:

Originally developed by Larry Page while at Stanford University, as a result Stanford owned the patent but gave Google an exclusive license. In 2005, Stanford sold its shares in Google for close to $340million.

Google's search results are based largely on a sophisticated algorithm that looks at a variety of factors. It is these results that keep people coming back. This patent examines various aspects of the web (such as "backlinks") to arrive at a ranking of web pages.

Prior to Google's innovations, search engines largely relied on factors that were easily gamed (such as keyword stuffing on a page).

Undisputably Google has changed the web landscape. Not only have they improved searching but they've also made PageRank a valuable asset. In effect, Google has improved searching and made it more difficult for SEOs.

1. A computer implemented method of scoring a plurality of linked documents, comprising:

obtaining a plurality of documents, at least some of the documents being linked documents, at least some of the documents being linking documents, and at least some of the documents being both linked documents and linking documents, each of the linked documents being pointed to by a link in one or more of the linking documents;

assigning a score to each of the linked documents based on scores of the one or more linking documents and

processing the linked documents according to their scores.

Google - Free WiFi

Method and system to provide advertisements based on wireless access points

Inventors: Wesley Chan, Shioupyn Shen, Georges Harik

Issued: -still pending-

Filed: September 14, 2004

Selected statement:

This isn't anywhere close to being granted or implemented let alone released but it's not hard to see the potential value in this patent. The patent outlines a business model for businesses to be able to provide free WiFi service to the internet. In fact, home users may also use it (neighbourhood free WiFi?). The patent says the advertising a wireless user would see is based on the "geographical location of the WAP, an operation of an entity providing the WAP, selected by the entity providing the WAP, and a profile of the WAP.".

1. A method comprising: placing advertisements in a view of an end user accessing a wireless access point (WAP), the advertisements being related to the WAP based on a predetermined criterion.

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft - mp3 encoding

Digital encoding process




Selected statement:

In 1987 the prestigious Fraunhofer Institut Integrierte Schaltungen research center began researching high quality, low bit-rate audio coding. Their research was helped with the audio coding by Dieter Seitzer, a professor at the University of Erlangen. Dieter Seitzer had been working on the quality transfer of music over a standard phone line. The "father of mp3" refers to Karlheinz Brandenburg who led the research. A specialist in mathematics Karlheinz Brandenburg also helped and had since 1977 been researching methods of compressing music. Karlheinz Brandenburg said how MP3 took several years to fully develop and almost failed in 1991. During testing "the encoding simply did not want to work properly. Luckily 2 days before submission of the first version of the MP3 codec, we found the compiler error."

This is an important patent because of the early date and what the first claim holds:

1. A digital coding process for at least one of transmitting and storing acoustical signals, the process comprising the steps of:

sampling an acoustical signal to obtain samples;

transforming the samples of said acoustical signal using a transform/filter bank into a sequence of second samples to thereby reproduce a spectral composition of said acoustical signal;

quantizing said sequence of second samples in accordance with the requirements with varying precision;

at least partially coding said sequence of second samples using an optimum encoder, and in which a corresponding decoding and inverse transformation takes place during reproduction of the acoustical signal;

correlating the occurrence probability of the quantized spectral coefficient to the length of the code utilizing a code in such a way that the more frequently said spectral coefficient occurs, the shorter the code word; and

allocating a code word to several elements of said sequence or to a value range to thereby reduce the size of the table of said encoder;

wherein the allocating step further comprising the steps of:

directly assigning a code word to only one part of the value range of an element of said sequence; and

assigning all values lying outside said partial range a common identifier and a special code.


Please feel free to let us know of any Internet patents that you feel may are relevant or should be included in this list.

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