by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
celebrities, interactions, patents


Letting Famous People Interact Online? Patented! Twitter Sued

from the oh-come-on dept

Mike Wokasch accidentally alerted us to the news that Twitter is being sued for patent infringement over what may be one of the most ridiculous patents we've seen in a long time. The patent, 6,408,309, is for a "method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of famous people." And yes, the USPTO actually approved this.

Reading through the claims, however, not only suggest that this patent never should have gotten anywhere near being approved, but also raises serious questions about how Twitter infringes. What's patented sounds more like a community in which people compete to be recognized as leaders in specific fields. Twitter is just a communications platform -- it has very little of what's actually described in the claims of the patent. But for the regular patent system defenders in the crowd, can someone explain how this could possibly be seen as patentable? An interactive virtual community of famous people? Seriously?

Wokasch also points out that the "inventor" (and I use that term loosely) is a patent attorney himself. Amusingly, the copyright notice on his website says "Copyright 1999 - 2001" suggesting it's not updated very often.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: A Patented Case that deserves it ?

    If patents were useful and beneficial to society there would be all sorts of blogs, by IP maximissts, presenting these useful patents and demonstrating all the good they cause. The reason these blogs don't exist because good patents hardly exist, if at all.

    I was even told, by IP maximists on this blog, that the overwhelming majority of patents were good and that these, on this blog, were the exception. Of course this blog doesn't come close to documenting all the bad patents, or even the bad patents that are presented on other blogs. So I challenged the IP maximists. If the majority of patents are good, they should easily be able to come up with more good (preferably relatively recent) patents than we should bad ones. Most of the attempted good patents they came up with were very easily shown to be bad and we can easily come up with a plethora of bad ones ourselves. I've presented this challenge several times on techdirt on different threads during different periods of time. IP maximists invariably fail to come up with examples of good patents. There are only like a few, if that, and in fact this is the only one I've seen up to date (though that particular case is still an abuse of the system)

    Face it, patents are worse than useless. They cause far more harm than good, at least with our current system.

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