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Archive for the ‘four-party’ Category

Clickshare awarded patent for system that could reduce need for central “big brother” databases or multiple user accounts

Posted on: December 10th, 2013 by wdensmore No Comments


AMHERST, Mass., Dec. 10, 2013  – A Massachusetts company has patented a system that it says could reduce the need for large, central databases of user names and accounts – a key emerging privacy challenge – while also reducing the need for users to have to have multiple online accounts.

The U.S. Patent Office on Tuesday issued U.S. patent No. 8,606,719, “System for Management of Alternatively Priced Transactions on Network,” (PDF) to Clickshare Service Corp. The company already has a related patent for a “System for Management Payments on a Network – Four or More Parties,” and has been working on the service since at least 1997.

The key innovation, the company said, is a system which both authenticates users across multiple independent web services, and allows users to choose among multiple home-base registrars. The patent also describes methods for allowing the sharing of user preferences, and real-time, variable pricing of digital content.

“Our technology gives consumers control over who sees personal information, and creates the potential for publishers to conveniently share content and users across networks which permit variable pricing and service offerings,” said Richard Lerner, CEO.

The Amherst-based company provides online registration, subscription, access control and billing services for millions of customers of newspaper and other information-publishing websites.

In a key privacy aspect, the sharing system works when the consumer users are known to information-publishing websites — and the system itself — only by a unique number. Only the user’s chosen home base (required for account reconciliation) associates the number with a person, and even then, need not know which content the user purchases.

Under the system patented by Clickshare, a person can have an account at one website, and purchase information, manage identity information, and get paid for advertising viewing at multiple other websites without having to repeatedly register or pass around name or unique identity information.

Unlike services such as iTunes or Facebook Connect, users of a Clickshare system would be able to choose their “home base” yet have a single account that works at multiple sites without repeated registration.

”There has been no Internet-based customer management system for payments or demographic tracking which did not require the creation of a massive, central names database, raising difficult marketing, partnering and privacy issues,” says Bill Densmore, founder of Clickshare. “Clickshare’s patented approach leaves customer ownership distributed among participating partners, and can put significant privacy control in consumer hands.”

Clickshare said it continues to explore with its dozens of publishing clients applications for the technology.

The patent covers  a system which manages and controls user accounts, payments and anonymous access to Internet websites where there are four parties involved. The four parties are the consumer user, the consumer’s home-base website (where the consumer has an account and profile information), one or more information or service-vending websites where the consumer wishes to view or purchase, and a system website where the parties can authenticate, aggregate, transfer and share usage and billing data across the system. The new patent expands protection for the system first described by Clickshare in U.S. Patent No. 7,324,972 issue Jan. 29, 2008.


Clickshare has been providing services such as user registration, authentication, access control, subscription management, “per-click” purchasing, event ticket sales and online print subscription capture for the newspaper and media industries for over 10 years, registering over six million accounts.  The Clickshare System supports many models including traditional purchasing, B-to-B applications such as tracking and payment for advertising click-throughs, reliable exchange of consumer information, federated authentication and management of loyalty programs.

Some of Clickshare’s customers  include:

  • Boston Globe Media Partners (at Worcester, Mass.)
  • BH Media (Berkshire Hathaway) at The Omaha World-Herald
  • Sun-Times Media
  • Crain Communications Inc.

Clickshare was formed in 1997, is privately owned. It raised $2.9 million in initial equity capital through 2001, and has operated on revenues since. Shareholders include the University of Massachusetts, venture investors, PeopleSoft founder David Duffield and former publishing executives of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader and Philadelphia Inquirer.

For Clickshare:
Edward Bride, 413-442-7718

On Jan. 29, 2008, Clickshare was awarded ( U.S. Patent No. 7,324,972 for “Managing transactions on a network: four or more parties.” (Initial announcement: The patent covers Clickshare’s federated authentication, transaction and personalization news and advertising social network.

Clickshare awarded patent for four-party content transactions

Posted on: November 19th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Clickshare Service Corp. was notified by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that it received a patent relating to its technology for creating a federated network of Internet web sites.

Clickshare has developed a unique system that networks web sites, allowing consumers to use existing accounts with trusted providers, to make secure, privacy-protected, purchases from any web site within the network. Consumers can make purchases from hundreds of vending websites without providing credit card-information to each site, using Clickshare’s Digital Calling Card (TM) technology. The consumer’s financial information resides with their trusted provider and the Clickshare Network settles payments among providers and vendors.

U.S. Patent No. 7,324,972 was awarded Jan. 29, 2008 for a “System for Management of Transactions on a Network: Four or More Parties.”

“Our technology gives consumers control over who sees personal information while simplifying the process of purchasing music, video, games and text across social and business networks,” said Rick Lerner, CEO.

The Clickshare System supports many models including traditional purchasing, B-to-B applications such as tracking and payment for advertising click-throughs, reliable exchange of consumer information, federated authentication and management of loyalty programs.

Clickshare has been providing services such as subscription management, “per-click” purchasing, event ticket sales and online print subscription capture for the newspaper and media industries for over 10 years. Its clients include Crain Communications Inc., the New York Times Co. (at Worcester, Mass.), The Sun Times Newspaper Group (Chicago Sun-Times and other papers), The McClatchy Co., Journal Register Co., as well as government agencies.

Clickshare Service Corp. is a privately-owned company based in Amherst, Mass. For more information, see  (413) 253-7800.

For Clickshare:
Edward Bride, 413-442-7718


A decade later: Advice about managing user relationships still relevant?

Posted on: October 23rd, 2001 by Bill Densmore No Comments

Borrell study recommends newspaper industry
align on shared authentication for content puchasing

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Oct. 23, 2001 — Newspapers seeking long-term profit from the Web should focus on registering and controlling the online accounts of their users, rather than ceding those relationships to new-media competitors, according to a just-completed online readership study. They should work with vendors that enable one-click, single sign-on purchasing at a networked alliance of websites, the study adds.”Newspapers, as they adopt a subscription or registration model, have the opportunity not only to capture that all-important subscriber/billing relationship, but also to achieve the industry’s elusive goal of creating a nationwide databank of customers,” concludes a report by Borrell & Associates Inc. released last week.

The report suggests that an alliance of newspaper sites, using single sign-on, one-account, one-registration technology known as an “e-wallet”, could help newspapers to (a) control their own billing and end-user relationships, (b) build a uniform transaction standard for millions of local consumers and (c) create the industry’s elusive goal of a nationwide service for customers who have control of their own “persona.” 

The 70-page report is based upon extensive interviews with news industry online executives, analysis of news and non-news websites which charge for content and responses from 1,895 recipients of a Belden Associates Inc. survey – a 13.3-percent response rate of 14,300 panelists queried. The respondents, surveyed Sept. 23-29, answered questions about their information-viewing habits, and about their willingness to register at websites and pay for information.

The study said a simultaneous poll of 120 newspaper publishers and groups by Borrell found 24% expressed high interest in the topic of erecting registration tollgates on their websites, a dozen have done so, and 350 more are thinking about doing the same thing.

Because the survey results showed 75% of consumers are willing to enter personal information for access to a free website, the Borrell report recommends that newspapers adopt an approach similar to The New York Times of requiring all users to register for access to most services. The report also recommends that newspaper websites (a) not charge for generic web access and (b) consider charging for premium “niche” content instead. The report finds a monthly membership fee of between $1 and $3 to access premium content may be acceptable to consumers.

The full report, “The Free vs. Paid Debate: Newspapers must decide between short-term ROI and long-term goals; status, challenges and directions for 2001-2005,” is available for $595.00 from Borrell at:

Re-establishing a billing relationship with web consumers is vital to the industry, the report says.

“When newspapers rushed to secure their place on the Web in the mid-1990s they lost a core strength: the billing relationship with their readers,” says the Borrell study. “While newspapers provided the content, the major ISP’s wound up ‘owning’ the readers and redirecting eyeballs … It is no wonder that the top-two news websites are owned by AOL/Time Warner ( and Microsoft ( … the bill-paying relationship is no small matter.”

The report recalls the 1995 effort by 10 major U.S. newspaper chains, the New Century Network, to create a “Travel Pass.” Under the e-wallet concept, the report says, users register account and demographic information and choose an ID that rests in a home-base databank. Whenever the user visits a site that participates in the e-wallet program, the user merely needs to enter their name and password to “enter” or “buy.”

The report cites two vendors — including Clickshare Service Corp. and QPass Inc. — as having pursued and gained some traction in the newspaper industry with such shared-authentication networks. It says the big difference is price and that QPass has focused on the largest newspapers, while Clickshare’s “rapidly-growing client list includes a diverse group.”

Qpass’ three-party model requires users to register their information in a central databank controlled by QPass, analogous to American Express or Discover cards. Clickshare’s four-party model vests registration in multiple databases among the multiple independent service providers, analogous to Visa or MasterCard, with their association of thousands of bankcard issuers.

Other recommendations of the report:

— Choose an outside vendor that provides scalability and registration portability because building an in-house registration system will likely not scale in the long term.

— Don’t charge for access to the basic website yet. There is no evidence that free content on websites cannibalizes print subscribership. Borrell found that 76% of site users are already print subscribers or are outside the market and can’t buy the print product. There is also strong data to suggest that websites actually sell newspapers.

— Find a local community’s content niches (sports, arts, tourism, history, recreation, etc.) and mine them because the average newspaper website gets one-third of its audience from outside the newspaper’s circulation area.

— Be patient and plan for the long term. Slightly more than half of U.S. households are online and broadband will not reach one-third household penetration for as long as another four years.

About Borrell & Associates
Borrell & Associates Inc. is a research, consulting and project firm based in Hampton Roads, Va. 

About Clickshare
The Clickshare Service is an Internet transaction infrastructure for privacy-protected purchasing of text, music, video, software, and other products and services. Partners such as publishers, banks, ISPs, associations, retailers and other telecommunications carriers use it to enhance, extend and share customer relationships with publishers and entertainment providers.

Clickshare allows a consumer to have one account at a most-trusted “infomediary”, and to purchase information from across the web without having to repeatedly enter credit card information, register repeatedly or surrender personal information. The result is one account, one ID, one-bill simplicity.

Clickshare’s investors include Sawgrass Seacoast Investors LLC, the University of Massachusetts and private individuals, including founding executives of PeopleSoft Inc., and the former publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Sun-Times. Its executives, board and advisors include veterans of the publishing and credit-card industries.

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For Clickshare:
Edward Bride, 413-442-7718 []
Bill Densmore, 877-340-0436 []