Legal Issues

by Joseph Weisenthal

Patent Office Is Friendster's Friend

from the they're-ba-ack dept

The former champ of the social networking space, Friendster, may finally have a way to claw back at the sites that have overtaken it: patent litigation. The company announced today that it has received a broad patent for a "system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks." In other words, it's basically a patent on online social networking. At this point, the company hasn't explicitly stated that it intends to sue anyone, though the company says it will protect its intellectual property, which isn't hard to interpret. Amusingly, the company claimed to have forgotten it had every applied for the patent, which is odd since from the nascent days of the space, the various players were fighting about who owned what intellectual property. The coming legal battles (in our crystal ball, we're seeing a court in East Texas for some reason) could prove interesting. First of all, there could be prior art on this "technology" as Friendster wasn't even the first social networking site. But even if the patent were granted legitimately, it's intuitive how this patent would be more of a hindrance than an incentive for innovation. Of course, if the patent system is designed to act as a consolation prize to companies that fail, then it's doing its job just fine.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Frink, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 8:54pm

    We really shouldn't discuss this for fear of litigation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dan, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:02pm

    social networking

    I think I still have my login around here somewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    the internet, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:59pm

    something we call...

    isn't the entire internet (well the 40% that isn't porn [and even then you have your arguments..]) nothing but a giant "social" network...?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Infested Templar, Jul 7th, 2006 @ 2:48am

    one thing that would go a long way to help this problem with patents would be to reduce the duration. Something like maybe 10 years for physical inventions, maybe 2 years for software stuff. If you don't do anything with it in 2 years you may as well not have it in the IT industry as it moves so quickly (and this would speed it up more).

    The worst though is buisness model patents. There is no point in them except to stifle competition. I'd like to see someone try to claim that people wouldn't invent different buisness models witout patents. Endless competition and coppying is what promotes the speed of inovation in buisness models to allow people to stay ahead. Wich leads to the same point about other patents....

    Perhaps scrapping patents alltogether would be going a bit to far but it would be at least 90% better then the current situation with patents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Mousky, Jul 7th, 2006 @ 6:32am


    Software is protected under copyright law. Under no circumstances should software be protected under patent law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Mousky, Jul 7th, 2006 @ 6:35am


    I really need someone at the USPTO explain how they granted such a broad patent. Also what exactly is a social networking site? How is a forum or chat room any different from a social networking site?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jul 7th, 2006 @ 8:36am

    Re: USPTO

    Another example of how much a peer review
    system is needed at USPTO.

    Isn't it about now that angry due jumps in to call
    everyone an idiot and explain how patents are
    protecting the garage shop inventor from evil

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 7th, 2006 @ 10:07am

    Isn't my grandfather's Rolodex prior art?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Nobody, Nov 2nd, 2006 @ 10:57am

    Re: social networking


    If you are who I think you are you only have the 6 degrees login because you rewrote thier hacked code into something nice and clean. Ah the pain of moving from one failed dot com to another.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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