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Facebook Patents the News Feed 96

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hope-for-narrow-focus dept.
daedae writes "It seems Facebook has been granted a patent for the news feed, as a method of monitoring activities, storing them in a database, and displaying an appropriate set of activities to an appropriate set of users. 'That sounds pretty broad, and the social-networking world was all atwitter at the possible ramifications. Writing for ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick proclaimed, "This could be very big. ... MySpace, Flickr, Yahoo, Twitter (?), the sharing part of Google Reader, and even Google Buzz — do all of these sites have technology at the center of their social experiences that falls under this new patent of Facebook's?" The patent may not be that broad. Nick O'Neill at the All Facebook blog wrote that the patent doesn't appear to cover status updates as used by Twitter. "It appears that this patent surrounds implicit actions. This means status updates, which is what Twitter is based on, are not part of this patent. ... Instead, this is about stories about the actions of a user's friends. While still significant, the implications for competing social networks may be less substantial," O'Neill wrote.'"
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Facebook Patents the News Feed

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  • where and order by (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) *

    Here's the patent info [uspto.gov].

    There are existing mechanisms that allow a user to display information about other users. Some mechanisms may allow the user to select particular news items for immediate viewing. Typically, however, these news items are disparate and disorganized. In other words, the user must spend time researching a news topic by searching for, identifying, and reading individual news items that are not presented in a coherent, consolidated manner. Often, many of the news are not relevant to the user. Just as often, the user remains unaware of the existence of some news items that were not captured in the user's research. What is needed is an automatically generated display that contains information relevant to a user about another user of a social network.

    So what they invented is a couple of WHERE and ORDER BY clauses in a sql query based on what the algorithm thinks is relevant to the user?

    Sounds like this is the second coming of Einstein.

    • by Aeros (668253)
      im sure its a little more involved. they didnt invent sql
    • There are existing mechanisms that allow a user to display information about other users. Some mechanisms may allow the user to select particular news items for immediate viewing. Typically, however, these news items are disparate and disorganized. In other words, the user must spend time researching a news topic by searching for, identifying, and reading individual news items that are not presented in a coherent, consolidated manner. Often, many of the news are not relevant to the user. Just as often, the user remains unaware of the existence of some news items that were not captured in the user's research. What is needed is an automatically generated display that contains information relevant to a user about another user of a social network.

      Is it just me or are the parts I emphasized here simply describing how facebook works?

      Having news presented to me sorted by what order my "friends" happened to stumble upon it seems quite "disparate and disorganized" to me.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's because ideas in your mind are sorted by category and relation to other ideas. If ideas in your mind were sorted by which friend they're releavnt to, then Facebook would appear to you to be a perfect and unequaled model of organizational purity.

        Now, think about how a 16-year-old girl's mind works.

    • by magsol (1406749)
      Yet again, it would appear that the US patent system is being used to stifle competition, as opposed to stimulating innovation.

      And here I was, thinking the patent application I submitted while interning at IBM which was a new ways of providing recommendations to users was actually a good idea. It's apparent to me now which of these two patents was clearly more original.
    • a sql query based on what the algorithm thinks is relevant to the user?

      not "user"... it's "user of a social network". TOTALLY different. there is obvious prior art showing this for general "users"... facebook's new INVENTION applies the concept in a proprietary process to "users of social network". where is the shame for the investors that are probably stuck $100k on fees and salary to get this filed?

    • You missed when you did your copy-and-paste. Here's what you should have quoted:

      1. A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising: monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment; storing the plurality of activities in a database; generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is for presentation to one or more viewing users and relates to an activity that was performed by another user; attaching a link associated with at least one of the activities of another user to at least one of the plurality of news items where the link enables a viewing user to participate in the same activity as the another user; limiting access to the plurality of news items to a set of viewing users; and displaying a news feed comprising two or more of the plurality of news items to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewing users.

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        Can someone turn that into English? I'm trying to figure out how the hell reading news about someone allows me to participate "in the same activity as the another user".

        As far as I can tell, what this patent means is that if my friend sets his status to "brb getting stoned" and there's a news article about a drug bust, I'll be invited to the address of the bust so I can get arrested too.

        • by Zordak (123132) on Friday February 26, 2010 @07:14PM (#31291990) Homepage Journal

          Can someone turn that into English?

          No, not really. That's kind of the point. Claim language has very specific meaning, both within the field of patent law, and within the patent itself. You can't just summarize a claim and say, "well, that's the gist of it," because every single word has an effect on the scope of the claim. If this patent is ever litigated, the parties will spend months and tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars fighting over the definitions of "social network environment, " "news item," and "link." The entire case can hinge on the definition of a single word, and I have seen courts hand down some surprising (and vexing) claim constructions.

          So basically, any advice you get from Slashdot armchair lawyers on what these claims "really mean" isn't worth the electrons it's printed on.

          • by butlerm (3112)

            the parties will spend months and tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars fighting over the definitions....

            You have just made an important part of the argument for why software patents shouldn't be allowed in the first place, to say nothing of dubious patents in other fields. Such patents cause a net decrease in human health and welfare. The social costs are far greater than the benefits. We could do better by paying software patent attorneys to dig holes in the ground and cover them back up again.

            • by Zordak (123132)
              No, I've actually just described the reality of patents in general---it has nothing to do with them being software patents. You can argue that we shouldn't have patents at all, but you would be in such a minority that you would be very unlikely to effect any kind of real change.
              • by butlerm (3112)

                I said an important part of the argument against software patents, whose other pernicious features make that a cost particularly not worth bearing.

                And frankly, if you don't understand what is wrong with software patents in particular, I wonder what planet you have been living on for the last decade. Virtually every software company in the country agrees that they cause more harm than good. For most of them, it is all just a (very expensive) game of mutually assured destruction. For most the rest, it is just

                • by Zordak (123132)
                  The only substantive argument I've seen from you so far is that obvious patents are bad, which has nothing to do with whether software is or should be statutory subject matter. And guess what---I heartily agree with you. Obvious patents are bad. In fact, when I was in law school, I wrote a comment for our law review about improving section 103 by abandoning TSM as "the" test for obviousness and instead adopting a more flexible fact-intensive inquiry, with some presumptions in favor of obviousness in cert
                  • by butlerm (3112)

                    The primary argument against whether software patents should be statutory is economic, not legal in nature. i.e. all things considered they cause more harm than good. There is an enormous amount of evidence to that effect - tens of billions of dollars in expenses every year with no evidence that there is actually a net benefit to anyone except the patent bar.

        • If I'm reading the summary correctly, it's about building this kind of list:

          - Alice became a fan of Wonderland. [Become a fan of Wonderland]
          - Bob just won an apple in the Halloween tournament. [Play Halloween]
          - Carol is attending the Yadayada concert [RSVP]
          - Dave and Ellie are now friends
          - Frances joined the group, "I Hate Software Patents" [Join "I Hate Software Patents"]
          - Greg commented on Hayden's status. [Read comment]

          Probably a key element in it is trying to make the list relevant enough to the user th

          • Sigh... the entire point of posting one of the claims from the patent is to dissuade people from trying to interpret things other than the claims when explaining what the patent covers. Yet you're interpreting the summary, which is already an interpretation of parts of the patent document other than the claims.

            The claims are what matters when you're talking about what a patent covers. Everything else is there to allow the patentee to fulfill their end of the bargain of disclosing their invention in exchan

          • The best I can do is:

            1. watching what happens in the system, and storing some or all of the events in a DB
            2. generating the messages for some or all of those events
            3. some or all of these messages are to be used to be displayed to users, showing what one or more other users have done
            4. making a list of who is allowed to see the collection of news items (presumably, in an item by item basis, otherwise the design is pretty odd)
            5. displaying items from that list to one or more of the people on the other list

            This isn't overl

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We're in a death-spiral where all companies patent everything, because everybody else is doing it. Welcome to government sanctioned anti-competition.

    • So what they invented is a couple of WHERE and ORDER BY clauses in a sql query based on what the algorithm thinks is relevant to the user?

      Maybe it's the algorithm part that's different here and not the SQL?

    • by blair1q (305137)

      > Sounds like this is the second coming of Einstein.

      He's gone around the universe already?

  • FTFA: Bajarin agrees that the patent is yet another sign of the need for patent reform. "This is one of those disappointing actions by the patent department and demonstrates their weakness when it comes to technology," Bajarin said. "It is not clear that Facebook actually invented anything unique or proprietary in order to get this patent. They used open-source code, namely JavaScript, which is open and free and created a process by leveraging existing technology."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      They used open-source code, namely JavaScript, which is open and free and created a process by leveraging existing technology

      more importantly they created a process that others had also already created. every corporate intranet i've built since 1999 has had similar functionality.

    • by icebike (68054) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:29PM (#31290892)

      As a minimum Google Buzz and Twitter strike me as clearly violating this patent.

      Facebook would probably not try to exercise this patent outside of their narrow sphere. The problem comes when they sell this to some patent troll who uses it to try to shut down the next big thing that comes along.

      Combined with a couple dozen different patents it presents the appearance of an insurmountable roadblock, even if several of the pieces are fluff patents.

      Even if we can't knock some sense into the patent office and expect them to find every existing example, we can extract a pound of flesh from those that apply for patents already in common usage, by imposing mind numbingly sever financial penalties for failing to mention and dispose of existing art in common usage at the time of application.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ucblockhead (63650)

        Twitter doesn't do anything like this. It just gives you a flat view from the people you follow, and lets you manually search using hand-entered search terms.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sepodati (746220)

        >> As a minimum Google Buzz and Twitter strike me
        >> as clearly violating this patent.

        Where does Buzz or Twitter automatically generate news items based on the activities of other users and include a link so that you can also participate in those activities?

        This basically patents the part I hate the most about Facebook. Stupid updates about people feeding the Aquarium Fish or playing Mafia Wars and a link so you can play, too. If this stops other social media sites/apps from adding these stupid g

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by icebike (68054)

          Where does Buzz or Twitter automatically generate news items based on the activities of other users and include a link so that you can also participate in those activities?

          Not used Buzz yet I see...

          http://answers.oreilly.com/topic/1069-google-buzz-5-things-you-need-to-know/ [oreilly.com]

          Maybe no so much for Twitter, but Buzz can generate "news items" form a variety of your other google services, and allow others to see and comment upon them.

          • by Sepodati (746220)

            No, I hadn't looked into Buzz that much. It does sound closer to violating the patent, though, if it also matches all of the other claims. I'm sure they (Google/Buzz) can get by saying they don't match one or two of them.

            -John

      • by Zordak (123132) on Friday February 26, 2010 @07:33PM (#31292254) Homepage Journal

        As a minimum Google Buzz and Twitter strike me as clearly violating this patent.

        Really? I bill tens of hours carefully picking over the specification, the claims, the prosecution history, and the prior art before I ever give my clients an opinion like that, and I never use the word "clearly." "Likely" is about the strongest commitment you'll get, because you don't really know until you've taken the thing to trial and exhausted your appeals.

        The problem comes when they sell this to some patent troll who uses it to try to shut down the next big thing that comes along.

        Why would they do that if it's as valuable as you think it is?

        Even if we can't knock some sense into the patent office and expect them to find every existing example, we can extract a pound of flesh from those that apply for patents already in common usage, by imposing mind numbingly sever financial penalties for failing to mention and dispose of existing art in common usage at the time of application.

        Patent applicants and their attorneys are already required to disclose to the patent office any relevant prior art that they're aware of (look up "inequitable conduct"). The penalty for failing to do so is a void patent. If a patentee intentionally held back prior art and then sued a competitor on the bad patent, the trial court could very easily award stiff sanctions. There is absolutely no incentive for holding back known art. Patent attorneys are paranoid about this. If anything, we err far on the side of disclosing stuff that's only marginally relevant rather than be found to have held back prior art. I myself have withdrawn (on the client's instructions) applications that had already been allowed so that we could submit art that we weren't even sure was relevant.

        • by butlerm (3112)

          There is absolutely no incentive for holding back known art.

          If the quality of the software patents granted over the past decade is any indication, patent attorneys have such a narrow definition of "prior art" as to render the term meaningless.

          • by Zordak (123132)

            Then give me an example. Give me a patent number, tell me which references were disclosed in the IDS, and then point me to a reference that is material to the allowed claims and should have been disclosed that wasn't. And then for good measure, explain to me why the attorney and/or applicant should have been aware of the reference they failed to disclose.

            I'm not saying there are bad patents---software or otherwise---but by and large, patent attorneys will submit any piece of art that comes anywhere close

            • by butlerm (3112)

              You have not addressed my argument, which is that the patent bar has established a sufficiently narrow definition of prior art as to render the term virtually meaningless.

              Any software engineer with a reasonable history in the field could cite more sophisticated implementations of the same sort of technology that Facebook just patented going back decades. Every modern publish and subscribe messaging platform on the planet is far more sophisticated, for example.

              But lo and behold, add the term "social networki

              • by Zordak (123132)

                You have not addressed my argument, which is that the patent bar has established a sufficiently narrow definition of prior art as to render the term virtually meaningless.

                Actually, I have. In fact, I addressed your argument before you even made it. You just aren't listening. I have told you that the patent attorneys I know (including me) will submit anything even remotely or tangentially related to the claims. There is no incentive to try to be clever and look at prior art narrowly. It just weakens your patent. And I doubt that you've ever even read an office action that rejects claims over prior art, much less responded to one. So I'm guessing you don't really know w

                • by butlerm (3112)

                  There is no incentive to try to be clever and look at prior art narrowly. It just weakens your patent.

                  That is hilarious. Patent attorneys have _every_ possible incentive to construe prior art in the narrowest possible terms, such that a patent has the broadest scope possible. And in fact, software patent attorneys seem to rarely if ever search or cite anything other than previously issued patents and (on occasion) published journal articles. Standard industry practice for related innovations considered too

                  • by Zordak (123132)

                    Still waiting on that single concrete example... (which wouldn't prove your thesis, but at least would be a starting point)

                    No, you don't have to be a patent attorney to make a meaningful argument about patent law, but you do have to know what you're talking about. When you say things like "this is just status updates on social networking," you make it glaringly obvious that you either don't really know what a patent is, or you do know what it is but you prefer disingenuous hyperbole. So yeah, my opinions

                    • by butlerm (3112)

                      Assuming you know anything about the history of publish and subscribe systems, or access control lists, or broadcast notification filtering, why don't you tell me _anything_ that is a non-obvious advance in the state of the art in the Facebook patent.

                      I am telling you that the the claims are entirely derivative, superficial, and obvious and have cited an entire field of commercial software systems that do the same thing and ten times more, on a much more sophisticated and flexible basis. Do you deny that pu

                    • by butlerm (3112)

                      By the way, you might start with telling us how anything in the Facebook patent is a non-trivial advance in the state of the art over Patent 6,298,455 "Publish and subscribe data processing with failover using cascaded sequence numbers" granted to IBM on October 2, 2001.

                      If anything Facebook's patent describes a regression in the state of the art, back to the kindergarten level. Of course that is the way they want it, all the better to intimidate the widest possible range of competitors over the widest possi

                    • by Zordak (123132)
                      Okay, that's a good start. Now the next step is to map the art you cited to each and every element of the following claim:

                      1. A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising: monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment; storing the plurality of activities in a database; generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is for presentation to one or more viewing users and relates to an activity that was performed by another user; attaching a link associated with at least one of the activities of another user to at least one of the plurality of news items where the link enables a viewing user to participate in the same activity as the another user; limiting access to the plurality of news items to a set of viewing users; and displaying a news feed comprising two or more of the plurality of news items to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewing users.

                      Once you have done that, you have legitimately complained about a patent.

                    • by butlerm (3112)

                      I have given an excellent illustration of the technology used to implement any number of comparable systems of much greater sophistication. The only thing that remains is to establish the obviousness of any of the differences.

                      And if you don't think that once given the prior art of a contemporary, sophisticated publish and subscribe system the remaining steps here are not perfectly obvious to any person having ordinary skill in the art, I should well conclude that you have something to sell.

                      And _even_ if the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602)

      They used open-source code, namely JavaScript, which is open and free and created a process by leveraging existing technology.

      While I think the patent in question (and virtually all software patents) is bullshit, this part of the argument above is utterly absurd.

      Even the most legitimate patents trivially fall into this category of things developed using other things that already exist by leveraging existing technology.

  • by Galestar (1473827)
    Isn't the news feed very similar to aggregated RSS feeds from multiple sources? Not necessarily technically, but from a "process" standpoint.
    • Re:RSS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jgtg32a (1173373) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:17PM (#31290750)

      Since when has prior work stopped someone from getting a patent?

      • It's okay, Facebook have only patented displaying a news feed in entirely the wrong order, no matter how many times you tell it to display my feed in chronological order FFS.
    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      If you combine it with filters (found in most rss programs), password-protected rss feeds (possible) and some algorithm that tries to decide what's important news to you (Facebook seriously sucks at this though), then yes it's basically the same thing.

      • I actually have an app that predates facebook itself, I think (I'm not 100% sure when facebook was started) that produces RSS feeds from serverlogs, and takes actions based on these messages (including email, page, etc).

        It's also been BSD licensed since 2006... when did facebook start this stuff?

    • by Sepodati (746220)

      The key to the patent is that news items are generated automatically based on the activities of other users (your friends) and the news items have a link in them so that you can participate in the same activity. Add in security for who sees the news, ordering, database, etc, and you've got the patent.

      I don't see how this relates to an RSS feed at all.

      Not saying this is particularly novel, either, but that's what it is. It's not a patent on a "news feed". Typical slashdot summary.

      -John

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In other news Microsoft today was granted patents for the application for, approving of, and legal protection provided by documented inventions. The expected lawsuit of every government in the world is expected shortly. When reached for comment the head of the U.S. patent office was found to be a small gremlin like creature living in a dark cave beneath Congress who's only response was something about Sarah Palin.

  • Lazy Patent Agents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ironicsky (569792) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:21PM (#31290808) Journal
    The USPO is getting lazy. There is quite a few examples of prior art which would extinguish this useless patent, namely Google News.
    • The USPO is getting lazy

      I am going to be a bit more pragmatic and look at the cause. At my work, we all appear to be lazy, ie timelines are pushed, things get pushed off the list, and, in a less-than-ideal-world way we are under performance pressure. This results in what I call the 80-20 result. Things get done to 80% and are called finished.

      I suspect an employees KPI's are calculated on "Applications processed" rather than some other measure.

      The only savior to the USPO in when the Govt decides the
    • Or RSS?

    • The USPO is getting lazy. There is quite a few examples of prior art which would extinguish this useless patent, namely Google News.

      Uh, no. Here's the claim:

      1. A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising:
      monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment;
      storing the plurality of activities in a database;
      generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is for presentation to one or more viewing users and relates to an activity that was performed by another user;
      attaching a link associated with at least one of the activities of another user to at least one of the plurality of news items where the link enables a viewing user to participate in the same activity as the another user;
      limiting access to the plurality of news items to a set of viewing users; and
      displaying a news feed comprising two or more of the plurality of news items to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewing users.

      Hint: Just because it says the word "news" doesn't mean that anything involving news is prior art. For instance, Google News doesn't present items relating to activities performed by another Google News user.

      I wouldn't throw stones at the USPTO for being lazy when you can't even be bothered to read the patent claims.

      • I wouldn't throw stones at the USPTO for being lazy when you can't even be bothered to read the patent claims.

        And having read it I would lob boulders, not stones. One of the most important criteria is supposed to be "not obvious to someone else well-versed in the art". This fails. Almost every software patent fails that test.

        • One of the most important criteria is supposed to be "not obvious to someone else well-versed in the art". This fails. Almost every software patent fails that test.

          How many patents do you have? Yeah... Everything is obvious in hindsight, particularly to people who don't invent anything.

  • Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:23PM (#31290834) Homepage Journal
    If its patented and only usable by one company the idea of everyone aware of the actions of the friends of your friends, then that privacy nightmare will became unpopular.
  • by Kanel (1105463) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:25PM (#31290856) Journal

    You can't patent something that has already been published or is out in the open. The Facebook news is well known so this means one of two things:

    1) This is a patent that was filed years ago, before facebook launched the feed. In the years since the filing, facebook has probably developed their feed away from the original proposal in the patent

    2) The patent contains something new that facebook has not implemented in today's facebook and which is not published elsewhere. In that case, what?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kanel (1105463)

      To be precise, you can publish as much as you like once the patent application has been handed in at the patent office. You don't have to wait until the patent is granted, which could be years later

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You can't patent something that has already been published or is out in the open. The Facebook news is well known so this means one of two things:

      1) This is a patent that was filed years ago, before facebook launched the feed. In the years since the filing, facebook has probably developed their feed away from the original proposal in the patent

      The patent was filed August 11, 2006. Facebook opened itself to the public on Sept 26, 2006, although it was open to college students prior to that. If Facebook didn't add this feature until the Sept 26, 2006 relaunch, then the application pre-dates the public use, and the patent isn't removing something from the public domain.

      Additionally, under 35 USC 102(b), you actually have an entire year to use your invention before you have to file. It's a grace period. So they could have implemented the feature at

  • This should not be patented. Newsfeed is needed for human survival. It should not carry a price.

    • by el_jake (22335)
      You are absolutely right. This is so wrong. But then again all "software" patents is.
    • Not to mention, it's just plainly stating what happened to who.

      I would like to patent "stating the truth in a list." Isn't that basically what they're doing?

      What if I started publishing a list that my program generated telling you of all the activities of a group of people? Would I have to .. Lie about it as to not cross this patent?
      • by Sepodati (746220)

        >> What if I started publishing a list that my program generated
        >> telling you of all the activities of a group of people?

        If your list included a link that allowed people to also participate in said activity, you'd be close to violating the patent. You'd also have to implement a method for storing said activities in a database, a relation system for views and people in your group, a security system to ensure only authorized or related people can view the list, etc.

        There's more to the patent than

  • Yet another example of why software patents are a threat to the health of the republic. The sad thing is that Facebook probably actually thinks this is an "invention".

  • Facebook would lose a lot of face (pardon the pun) if they tried to act on this patent. I personally don't think they intend to. They just want to deter the "next big thing" from even seeing the light of day. Everyone who enters this aerna would be walking onto a trap door that Facebook controls the lever of.
  • They've just patented RSS feeds. Idiots.

    • Rss feeds related to your friends activities? Maybe they've patented an rss feed reader which I guess you can say each feed is your friend but not rss feeds themselves
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Tolkien (664315)

        Man. I was in the middle of writing a rather lengthy post meant to contradict you and then I RTFA. In short, you're right, but it's hardly a "reader" rather the method for constructing the feed of relevant data in the first place. In any case, I'm sure we can all agree that this is a worthless patent to begin with.

  • If not, let's patent the 'hide user comments for a score less than'!

  • How long? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How long until someone patents writing?

    Or, to be simpler, what happens if someone patents patents?

    What is the world is coming to?

    We, as species, are only strong _because_ we share knowledge. All this infighting... what are we waiting for?

    An alien/animal intelligent enemy that unites us?

    Pathetic.

  • If it stops others from implementing this abomination, I'm all for it. As embarrassed as I am to admit that I use FB I have to say that the News Feed is horrible. I guess they were trying to find a way to show me what I'm interested in without showing me a whole bunch of garbage. They failed utterly. News Feed has some random kind of order that I can't fathom. It mainly shows me things I've already seen without showing me new stuff. And it seems I can't permanently turn it off.

  • So they've patented the biggest thing they broke when they upgraded the site a few weeks back? They are most welcome to patent it, though they are wasting their time and money -- it does not work properly. No-one is going to copy it... no-one in their right minds anyway.
  • When my patent on relation databases goes through I'm going to own this rock.
  • how is this any different than pointcast? I wonder if they are still around.
  • Once again we have a Slashdot story on patents that is a complete FAIL.

    THE ABSTRACT IS NOT WHAT THE PATENT COVERS. It is the first claim that is the patented material, to whit:

    1. A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising: monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment; storing the plurality of activities in a database; generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is f

    • by butlerm (3112)

      Story is definitely wrong on issue of obviousness question.

      Any smart sixth grader could come up with stuff like this in his sleep. The implementation details may not be obvious, but the idea being patented is such a hum drum application of run of the mill computer technology that it is pathetic that anyone considers this patentable at all.

      • Here's a clue for you, right from IP Law 101:

        Patents cover implementations of ideas.

        The fact that as you say that the implementation might not be trivial is exactly what makes this patentable.

        DUH.

        • by butlerm (3112)

          Well, if Facebook patented a specific implementation that wasn't right out of software engineering 101, maybe the patent would be valid.

          As tempted as I am to respond in kind, I must say that "DUH" is exactly the way to garner enemies and opponents of your position, of whatever dubious value it may have.

        • by butlerm (3112)

          "A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising: monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment; storing the plurality of activities in a database; generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is for presentation to one or more viewing users and relates to an activity that was performed by another user; attaching a link associated with at least one of the activities of ano

  • it's merely an algorithm... reducible to pure maths.

    I wish people would stop trying to defeat software patents on the basis of prior art and instead work on defeating them as un-patentable in the first place.

    • So what would you use to define and protect software innovations?

      Copyright doesn't work as it only protects the expression, and does nothing to protect the same code in another language. Trade marks only protect against use as a brand identifier (paraphrased to avoid a recursive definition). Free market only protects the biggest fish to push the idea, or in some cases the first to market. Open source allows no guaranteed reward (and little to no investment). Software as a Service only works for unique busin

  • As my sites aren't based in the USA, but in EU, this basically only means that I'll get fewer competitors from the USA and that the ones I have will spend more money on lawyers and less on development. I don't see how reading a patent would help me implement this though, but there might be something smart in there that I can't see by simply using Facebook and think.

    Yes, I run sites similar to Facebook and I'm about to implement that kind of news-feed. Different, but similar.

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