Patent battle

Nashua-based PowerOasis Inc. and PowerOasis Networks LLC are suing a Texas company for patent infringement.

The privately held firms have filed a joint lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts accusing Wayport Inc. of Austin, Texas, of infringing on two patents that cover pay-as-you-go access to telecommunications terminals that work like vending machines for the Internet, dispensing wired or wireless Internet access for a fee charged to a customer’s credit card.

The suit seeks a preliminary injunction to stop Wayport from providing pay-as-you-go Internet access in airports, hotels and other public places. The suit also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Wayport said it believes the suit’s claims “are without merit and (we) intend to vigorously contest them.”

Both PowerOasis and Wayport are fee-for-service companies, but the problem, according to PowerOasis, is that Wayport uses the pay-as-you-go method the local company says it patented.

The company’s technology was invented in 1995 by Charles C. Schelberg Jr. of Milford, and later developed with his business partner, Thomas M. Duff Jr. of Nashua, president of PowerOasis Inc.

Patent features include a machine for vending Internet access to a customer, a payment mechanism for receiving payment, and an electronic circuit for determining when the transaction is done, among other things.

“They have all of the features of our patent buried in their technology,” Duff added. “When you go through it on a functional comparison, their product is exactly the same as ours.”

Wayport provides high-speed wireless and wired Internet service in more than 3,000 locations, including hotels, airports and McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, according to the company Web site.

PowerOasis said its data ports are used in 21 airports in 16 states — including Manchester Airport — and in other public buildings in five states.

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