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. icon
    Jimr (profile), 21 Jan 2011 @ 9:04am

    Further proof USPTO is just a registry

    Further proof USPTO is just a registry service. They do not have the resource or skills to validate the patents so accept them all and then shift the cost to dispute them to the courts and challengers to cover the cost of actually validating them.

    They just need to add in little caveat that requires the patent must be provable (repeatable and/or implementable) and in use (or schedule to be in use) only by the proposed patent holder.

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