|Publication number||USRE43070 E1|
|Application number||US 11/546,488|
|Publication date||Jan 3, 2012|
|Filing date||Oct 10, 2006|
|Priority date||Jul 18, 2000|
|Also published as||US6804699|
|Publication number||11546488, 546488, US RE43070 E1, US RE43070E1, US-E1-RE43070, USRE43070 E1, USRE43070E1|
|Inventors||James B. Henrie|
|Original Assignee||Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (125), Non-Patent Citations (13), Referenced by (4), Classifications (15), Legal Events (10)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
Notice: More than one reissue application has been filed for the reissue of U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,699. The reissue applications are application Ser. No. 11/546,488 (the present application), filed Oct. 10, 2006, which is a reissue application of U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,699; and application Ser. No. 11/635,062, filed Dec. 5, 2006, which is a reissue application of U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,699 and a continuation reissue application of application Ser. No. 11/546,488.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the field of portable devices such as personal digital assistants or palmtop computer systems. Specifically, the present invention relates to a method and system for preventing unauthorized use of a portable device and for facilitating recovery of the portable device if it is lost or stolen.
2. Related Art
As the components required to build a computer system have reduced in size, new categories of computer systems have emerged. One of the more recent categories of computer systems is the portable or “palmtop” computer system, or personal digital assistant (PDA). A palmtop computer system is a computer that is small enough to be held in the hand of a user and is thus “palm-sized.” As a result, palmtops are readily carried about in a briefcase or purse, and some palmtops are compact enough to fit into a person's pocket. By virtue of their size, palmtop computer systems are also lightweight and so are exceptionally portable and convenient.
On the other hand, because they are relatively small, palmtop computer systems can be easily lost or stolen. Although they are not extremely expensive, palmtops are expensive enough to make them attractive to thieves. To the owner of a palmtop, not only is there a monetary loss if the device is lost or stolen, but the information stored on the palmtop may be very valuable and possibly irreplaceable. Consequently, it is desirable to discourage theft of palmtop computer systems and to encourage their return to their rightful owners when they are lost or stolen.
In addition, it is desirable to prevent use of the palmtop if it is not in the possession of an authorized user. Importantly, this may discourage deliberate acts such as theft if it is known beforehand that the palmtop can only be used by an authorized user. Of further importance, this can prevent information stored on the palmtop from being accessed by someone other than an authorized user.
In the prior art, one method for protecting against unauthorized use of a computer system or against unauthorized access to information stored in a computer system is to use a password. However, passwords are considered by many users to be vexing and inconvenient, passwords can lock out even an authorized user, and experience shows that passwords can be defeated by unauthorized users. In addition, while a password may prevent access to applications and information already existing on the palmtop, it will generally not prevent an unauthorized user from adding new applications and information. Thus, an unauthorized user can simply assume ownership of the palmtop and ignore the password-protected information.
Accordingly, what is needed is a system and/or method that can discourage theft of a device such as a palmtop computer system or personal digital assistant (PDA), and that can encourage return of the device to the rightful owner if it is lost or stolen. What is also needed is a system and/or method that can satisfy the above need and that can prevent use of the device and unauthorized access to information stored on the device if it is not in the possession of an authorized user. In addition, what is needed is a system and/or method that can satisfy the above needs and that is user-friendly and convenient. The present invention provides these advantages and others not specifically mentioned above but described in the sections to follow.
A method and system are described for preventing unauthorized use of a device (e.g., a palmtop computer system or PDA) and for facilitating recovery of the device when, for example, the device has been lost or stolen and an attempt to use it is made by someone other than an authorized user. The authorized user registers the device in a database at a central site using a unique identifier for the device. If the device is lost or stolen, the authorized user records this in the central site database. When the device is connected to the central site using either a wireless or a landline connection, the device automatically communicates its unique identity to the site. The central site performs a lookup based on the unique identity and, if the database indicates that the device is lost or stolen, the device is so notified. In response, the device automatically disables normal operation.
In another embodiment, instead of notifying the device that it is lost or stolen, the device is notified that it is not lost or stolen and its use is authorized. In this embodiment, operation of the device is automatically enabled when the central site indicates that use of the device is authorized. This feature can also be used to re-enable a device that was reported as lost or stolen and disabled as a result, and then was recovered by its authorized user.
In one embodiment, the central site is a World Wide Web site residing on a server computer system in a computer system network (e.g., the Internet).
In one embodiment, when disabled, the device displays information that can be used to identify and contact the authorized user, such as the user's name and address. In other embodiments, other security measures can be used depending on the preferences of the authorized user. In one of these embodiments, the Web site can initiate a trace to locate the device. In another embodiment, if the device does not make contact with the central site for a specified period of time, operation of the device is automatically disabled.
Thus, in accordance with the present invention, when a device is lost or stolen, it can be more readily recovered and, in the meantime, unauthorized use of the device is prevented. Each time the device is connected to the Internet, the device automatically checks a Web site to determine if it is lost or stolen. If the device is reported as lost or stolen, the device will be disabled to prevent normal operation. While in the disabled mode, the device can display information on how to contact the authorized user, or the Web site can initiate a trace to find the location of the device.
In accordance with the present embodiment of the present invention, these security measures can be automatically implemented in the background without a user knowing they are occurring, and thus they are convenient and user-friendly. In addition, once it is understood that unauthorized use will cause the device to be disabled and thus of little use to an unauthorized user, the likelihood of theft of the device is expected to decrease, and the likelihood of its return to the rightful owner is expected to increase.
In the following detailed description of the present invention, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will he recognized by one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details or with equivalents thereof. In other instances, well known methods, procedures, components, and circuits have not been described in detail as not to unnecessarily obscure aspects of the present invention.
Some portions of the detailed descriptions, which follow, are presented in terms of procedures, steps, logic blocks, processing, and other symbolic representations of operations on data bits that can be performed on computer memory. These descriptions and representations are the means used by those skilled in the data processing arts to most effectively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art. A procedure, computer executed step, logic block, process, etc., is here, and generally, conceived to be a self-consistent sequence of steps or instructions leading to a desired result. The steps are those requiring physical manipulations of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated in a computer system. It has proven convenient at times, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bits, values, elements, symbols, characters, terms, numbers, or the like.
It should be borne in mind, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities. Unless specifically stated otherwise as apparent from the following discussions, it is appreciated that throughout the present invention, discussions utilizing terms such as “determining” or “indicating” or “indexing” or “receiving” or “performing” or “initiating” or “sending” or “implementing” or “disabling” or “enabling” or “displaying” or the like, refer to the action and processes of a computer system (e.g., process 900 of
The present invention is discussed primarily in the context of a portable computer system, such as a palmtop or personal digital assistant, with the capability to access via the Internet a World Wide Web (“Web”) site residing on a server computer system. However, it is appreciated that the present invention can be used with other types of devices that have the capability to access some type of central device or central site, including but not limited to laptop computer systems.
In the present embodiment, base station 32 is both a transmitter and receiver base station, which can be implemented by coupling it into an existing public telephone network 34. Implemented in this manner, base station 32 enables portable computer system 100 to communicate with a proxy server computer system 36, which is coupled by wire to the existing public telephone network 34. Furthermore, proxy server computer system 36 is coupled to the Internet 52, thereby enabling portable computer system 100 to communicate with the Internet 52.
Coupled with Internet 52 are multiple servers exemplified by server 30. Residing on server 30 is a Web site 40. When communicating with a Web site over Internet 52, protocols such as CTP (Compact Transport Protocol) and CML (Compact Markup Language) can be used by portable computer system 100 in the present embodiment.
It should be appreciated that within the present embodiment, one of the functions of proxy server 36 is to perform operations over the Internet 52 on behalf of portable computer system 100. For example, proxy server 36 has a particular Internet address and acts as a proxy device for portable computer system 100 over the Internet 52.
It should be further appreciated that other embodiments of a communications network, planned or envisioned, may be utilized in accordance with the present invention. For example, a wireless connection may be made from portable computer system 100 directly to the Internet 52.
The data and information which are communicated between base station 32 and portable computer system 100 are the same type of information and data that can conventionally be transferred and received over a public telephone wire network system. However, a wireless communication interface is utilized to communicate data and information between portable computer system 100 and base station 32. It should be appreciated that one embodiment of a wireless communication system in accordance with the present invention is the Mobitex wireless communication system.
With reference first to
Importantly, in the present embodiment, host computer system 56 is also coupled via connector cable 68 to a cradle 60 for receiving and initiating communication with portable computer system 100 (“handheld computer”) of the present invention. Connector cable 68 can be a serial bus (e.g., RS232), a parallel bus, a Universal Serial Bus (USB), or any other type of workable connection. Cradle 60 provides an electrical and mechanical communication interface between connector cable 68 and portable computer system 100 for two-way communications with host computer system 56. Portable computer system 100 also contains a wireless infrared communication mechanism 64 for sending and receiving information from other devices.
With reference next to
With reference to
Infrared communication mechanism 64 (e.g., an infrared emitter and detector device) is for sending and receiving information from other similarly equipped devices (see
With reference still to
In one embodiment, computer system 100 includes a communication circuit 109 coupled to bus 110. Communication circuit 109 includes an optional digital signal processor (DSP) 120 for processing data to be transmitted or data that are received via signal transmitter/receiver device 108. Alternatively, processor 101 can perform some or all of the functions performed by DSP 120.
Also included in computer system 100 of
Refer now to
Continuing with reference to
Continuing with reference to
With reference still to
In step 910 of
With reference still to
In the present embodiment, the account is indexed using the unique identifier so that the account can be readily accessed using the unique identifier. The user can then enter preferences into the account pertaining to the security features of the present invention. For example, the security features can be enabled or disabled depending on user preferences.
In one embodiment, the user accesses Web site 40 to set up the account using portable computer system 100. For example, portable computer system 100 can be registered using the synchronization process described in conjunction with
In the present embodiment, Web site 40 is set up to support the features of the present invention. In one embodiment, in which portable computer system 100 is a palmtop computer such as a Palm III, a Palm V, or a Palm VII (or other such devices), Web site 40 can be a site such as Palm.net. In another embodiment, Web site 40 can be an Internet access conduit that is commonly available to users of portable devices, such as the AvantGo site. It is appreciated that the security features of the present invention will be desirable to users of portable devices, and as such a number of Web sites may find it advantageous to add such security features to the services they provide.
In step 915 of
In one embodiment, when the device is lost or stolen, the user accesses the account set up for portable computer system 100 at Web site 40 and enables the security features of the present invention by clicking on an input box to indicate that portable computer system 100 is lost or stolen. When the device is recovered, the user accesses the account at Web site 40 and disables the security features of the present invention by clicking on the input box, thereby indicating that portable computer system 100 is no longer lost or stolen.
In step 930 of
In step 940 of
In step 945, based on the account information, a determination is made with regard to whether or not portable computer system 100 is lost or stolen (based on the user input provided in step 920). If portable computer system 100 is not reported as lost or stolen, then Web site 40 sends a signal to the device indicating normal operation of the device is enabled (step 950), and normal operation of the device continues (step 955). It is understood that enabling normal operation can be a default setting such that, if no response is received to the signal of step 930, then portable computer system 100 will continue to operate normally.
Alternatively, Web site 40 can respond to portable computer system 100 with an indication that the device is not lost or stolen, where this indication is necessary in order for portable computer system 100 to operate normally. In one embodiment, the user can configure portable computer system 100 such that it is necessary for the device to make contact with Web site 40 on a periodic basis, at an interval specified according to user preferences. If the specified time period expires before portable computer system 100 connects with Web site 40, then the device is automatically disabled. For example, the authorized user could specify that portable computer system 100 is to connect with Web site 40 once per week, and if a week goes by without such a connection, then portable computer system 100 is disabled. If, at a later time, the authorized user attempts to use portable computer system 100, then portable computer system 100 can still be connected to Web site 40 (this capability remains even if the device is in the disabled or locked mode). After looking up the account information based on the unique identity of portable computer system 100 (step 945) to determine whether the device has been lost or stolen, Web site 40 sends a signal to the device that unlocks the device and enables normal operation. It is appreciated that other actions may need to be performed in order to re-enable operation of the device.
In step 960, if portable computer system 100 is reported as lost or stolen, then Web site 40 sends a signal to the device indicating that normal operation of the device is disabled. As described above, disabling operability of the device can be the result of a signal received from Web site 40 or it can be a default setting if no response is received to the signal of step 930. In addition, if portable computer system 100 has been reported as lost or stolen and has already been disabled in accordance with the present invention, it will continue to remain disabled as a result of this step. For example, if portable computer system 100 is in the locked mode, and no response is received in step 960, then it will continue to remain in the locked mode.
In step 965, in the disabled mode of operation (e.g. a locked mode), many (almost all) functions of portable computer system 100 cannot be used. In one embodiment, portable computer system 100 changes the configuration stored in flash memory (e.g., ROM 103 of
In one embodiment, information for identifying and contacting the authorized owner or user is displayed on display device 105 (
Once portable computer system 100 is recovered by the authorized user or rightful owner, it can be reset for normal operation. In one embodiment, a bootstrap reset would be required in order to allow the flash memory to be overwritten with the normal configuration information. In another embodiment, as described in conjunction with step 915, the authorized user can change the account information to indicate that the device is no longer lost or stolen. Accordingly, when portable computer system 100 is subsequently synchronized (per
In summary, in accordance with the present invention, when a device (e.g., a portable device such as portable computer system 100) is lost or stolen, it can be more readily recovered and, in the meantime, unauthorized use of the device is prevented. Each time the device is connected to the Internet, the device automatically checks a Web site to determine if it is lost or stolen. If the device is reported as lost or stolen, the device will be disabled to prevent normal operation. While in the disabled mode, the device can display contact information for the authorized user, or the Web site can initiate a trace to find the location of the device.
In accordance with the present embodiment of the present invention, these security measures can be automatically implemented in the background without a user knowing they are occurring, and thus they are convenient and user-friendly. In addition, once it is understood that unauthorized use will cause the device to be disabled and thus of little use to an unauthorized user, the likelihood of theft will probably decrease and the likelihood of return to the rightful owner will probably increase.
Thus, the present invention provides a system and method that can discourage theft of a device such as a portable (palmtop) computer system, PDA, laptop or other types of device, and that can encourage return of the device to the rightful owner if it is lost or stolen. The present invention also provides a system and method that can prevent use of the device if it is not in the possession of an authorized user and that can prevent unauthorized access to information stored on the device. In addition, the present invention provides a system and method that is user-friendly and convenient.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention, identifying and locating lost or stolen personal digital assistant devices via a landline- or wireless-connected web server, is thus described. While the present invention has been described in particular embodiments, it should be appreciated that the present invention should not be construed as limited by such embodiments, but rather construed according to the below claims.
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|U.S. Classification||709/224, 726/2, 455/410, 709/203|
|International Classification||G06F21/00, G06F15/16, H04L29/06|
|Cooperative Classification||G06F21/88, H04L63/10, H04L63/0876, G06F21/31|
|European Classification||H04L63/08H, G06F21/31, G06F21/88, H04L63/10|
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