Fronde calls lawyers over Google patent

Fronde has been offering the same text message payment service for years

New Zealand mobile application developer Fronde has referred a new US patent lodged by search engine giant Google to its lawyers.

Google filed a patent last week that would allow users to pay for goods from vending machines and retailers via text message or SMS (short message service). However, New Zealand company Fronde has been offering the same service for years.

Fronde, formerly Synergy, is the company behind text-a-park and Kiwibank’s mobile banking service. It has also developed mobile security and authentication systems being trialled by a number of overseas banks.

US Patent 2007/0203836, called “Text message payment”, was published by Google engineer Ramy Dodin. The invention, dubbed Gpay in the supporting drawings, is described as “a computer-implemented method of effectuating a payment, comprising: receiving at a computer server system a text message from a payor containing a payment request comprising a payment amount sent by a payor device operating independently of the computer server system; debiting a payor account for an amount corresponding to the amount of the payment request; and crediting a payee account that is independent of the computer server system.”

According to the drawings, users could use Gpay to make payments to retailers, doctors and other providers.

Fronde Anywhere chief executive officer Dean Johnson says the messaging space is a busy one for patent filing globally and, for the most part, these have proven unenforceable due to either prior art (it has been done before) or lack of novelty (everyone is doing it).

“As one of the early market entrants in this space, Fronde Anywhere has been offering a range of mobile payment services in the New Zealand market using SMS since 2001,” he says.

“Fronde Anywhere has a comprehensive IP protection strategy in place and would be happy to provide a more comprehensive comment once we have had a chance to review the patent and assess its impact on both NZ and global markets.”