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Patent application raises new threat of information charge

Ali Guryel, managing director of Bromcom Computers, has personally applied for a patent to cover exchange of pupil data over the internet. The move has sparked concern that, if approved, the patent could result in his companies acquiring the right to charge schools in the same way that Frontline Technology, of which Mr Guryel is also managing director, is charging schools up to pound;1,500 a year to use wireless networks to exchange information about students (unless their wireless technology has been bought from Bromcom).

His patent application, for the design of "distributed database system" for "optimum transfer of pupil data", is not strictly for education, he claims, and is made in his name alone and has nothing to do with Bromcom. It was filed on June 9, 2000, and published on April 24 last year.

However, the Department for Education and Skills has previously urged schools not to buy the existing Frontline licences (see web address below).

It is not yet clear whether the DfES will take action to challenge this patent, or Mr Guryel's new application.

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