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USPTO Lets Amazon Patent the "Social Networking System" 265

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-farmville-are-belong-to-us dept.
theodp writes "After shelling out a reported $90 million to buy PlanetAll in 1998, Amazon shuttered the site in 2000, explaining that 'it seemed really superfluous to have it running beside Friends and Favorites.' But years later in a 2008 patent filing, Amazon described the acquired PlanetAll technology to the USPTO in very Facebook-like terms. And on Tuesday, the USPTO issued US Patent No. 7,739,139 to Amazon for its invention, the Social Networking System, which Amazon describes thusly: 'A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts.' So, should Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg worry about Amazon opening a can of patent whup-ass?"
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USPTO Lets Amazon Patent the "Social Networking System"

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  • Like (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:19PM (#32596710)

    Anonymous Coward likes this

  • by TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:22PM (#32596736)
    1) Buy company that "invents" un-patented technology everyone is using.
    2) Patent said technology yourself, because the USPTO can't be bothered to actually think about what they are doing.
    3) Wait for the other users of "your" technology to make a substantial amount of money.
    4) Profit!
    • It looks like the buyout by Amazon does predate Friendster and MySpace... though to be honest, there's no way in hell this should pass any "obvious" test.
      • Re:Patent Trolling (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:36PM (#32596890)

        It looks like the buyout by Amazon does predate Friendster and MySpace... though to be honest, there's no way in hell this should pass any "obvious" test.

        That may well be true, but, the website based social networking sites are far from the first to utilize this "technology"

        'A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts.'

        This has a very strong similarity to "elite" status granted to users of old school dial up BBSs for uploading or otherwise providing coveted data or services. Such similar systems were even loosely in place within AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, and other dial-up ISPs long before 1998. Even forum profiles could conceivably fall into this category.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes (679165)

        It looks like the buyout by Amazon does predate Friendster and MySpace... though to be honest, there's no way in hell this should pass any "obvious" test.

        None of that matters. They didn't file until 2008. Therefore... anything existing before 2008 is prior art.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Except that's completely wrong. The Date of Invention is the earliest of 3 dates: the date of public disclosure, the earliest date of *continuous* development before the date of file, or the date of file.

          So, yes, obviousness does matter in this case, as does the DoI.

          WIth such esteem that they proclaim they have, you would think that Slashdotters would actually do the research they make fun of journalists for not doing, but no....

          • Re:Patent Trolling (Score:5, Informative)

            by adf92343414 (1332481) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @11:35PM (#32598518)
            Bzzt! Wrong. From http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/index.html#novelty [uspto.gov] :

            In order for an invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if: "(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent," or "(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States . . ."

            If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere in the world, or if it was known or used by others in this country before the date that the applicant made his/her invention, a patent cannot be obtained. If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere, or has been in public use or on sale in this country more than one year before the date on which an application for patent is filed in this country, a patent cannot be obtained. In this connection it is immaterial when the invention was made, or whether the printed publication or public use was by the inventor himself/herself or by someone else. If the inventor describes the invention in a printed publication or uses the invention publicly, or places it on sale, he/she must apply for a patent before one year has gone by, otherwise any right to a patent will be lost. The inventor must file on the date of public use or disclosure, however, in order to preserve patent rights in many foreign countries.

            Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention. For example, the substitution of one color for another, or changes in size, are ordinarily not patentable.

            But hey, feel free to go ahead and make stuff up about continuous development - that'll get you an upmod, despite it being hogwash. Not that GP was completely correct - there's that one year window where somebody else can describe / publish an invention that you have been working on but haven't filed a patent for. If you can file within the year and prove you started inventing it before the other person, then you have a chance of a valid patent. But after the one year window, it doesn't matter when you started working on your invention.

            #include "ianal.h"

        • Re:Patent Trolling (Score:5, Informative)

          by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:42AM (#32599098)

          This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/022,089, filed Dec. 22, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,386,464 which is a division of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,486, filed Feb. 17, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,194,419 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/348,355, filed Jul. 7, 1999 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,714,916), which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/962,997, filed Nov. 2, 1997 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,269,369).

          A continuation application [wikipedia.org] gets the same precedence date as the original patent but validity time from the date of acceptance. The Wikipedia article referenced, whilst lacking some citations seems to be correct (at least it's current version [wikipedia.org]) as you can verify against the the Patent office FAQ [uc.edu]

          This is an extremely evil patent.

    • It's all BS. (Score:3, Informative)

      by msauve (701917)
      First, it's obvious that there was prior art for the patent as described, when it was filed in 2008.

      Second, even if Planetall used a unique and patentable invention in 1998, it cannot be patented with an application filed in 2008. Here's a descriptive quote from the MIT Technology Licensing Office:

      The U.S. patent law system is among the most lenient in the world with regards to prior disclosure of your invention. It allows you to publish your invention or offer it for sale prior to filing a patent applicat

      • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:35PM (#32597336) Homepage Journal
        That's all very good, Mr. Patent-Law-Reader, but why should we expect a reviewer at the USPTO to be aware of that rule? They don't have time to read legalese: they have patents to grant. Including mine, for a method of storing and nesting hypertext comments in a networked news system. Now get off their backs!
        • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:46PM (#32597398) Journal

          Kindly cease and desist using a method of concatenating letters to form words. It is patent-pending.

          • Not if my pending "method of delivering a blunt patent-infringement threat" patent has anything to say about it.
            • by McFortner (881162)
              You are all infringing on my "Using marks, characters, and pictures to transfer information between two parties" patent. My lawyers will be in touch!
              • by fishexe (168879)
                Oh, please. Before any of you posted you'd already violated my patent on the business method of 'patenting methods that others are already employing'. I am entitled to all proceeds derived from enforcing your respective patents.
      • Re:It's all BS. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @09:28PM (#32597708)

        The patent has a valid priority chain going all the way back to 2 November 1997. That means that the effective filing date of this patent is 2 November 1997.

        See 35 USC 120 [uspto.gov].

        • by Veramocor (262800)

          Actually the prior art that is required may even be earlier than that. You are only statutorily barred from a patent if the prior art ( 35 USC 102(b) type art) is more than 1 year prior to your priority date (or on sale in use 1 year prior).

          If it is say 6 months from your priority date (102 (a) the inventor may file a 131 declaration which attests that the invention was reduced to practice prior to the prior art date or that it was conceived prior to the prior art date and they diligently worked on the inv

          • Well, if your reference is another patent or patent application publication under 102(e), the prior art date (i.e., the filing date of the prior art patent or pub) could be more than a year before the priority date, and the applicant could still swear behind it (however unlikely that might be).

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by coastwalker (307620)

      Death is too good for them.

  • prior art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sugarmatic (232216) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:23PM (#32596752)

    My company in the mid 90's had an online resume system for internal postings that allowed people to post resumes anonymously, and hiring managers could share postings and information selectively based on whatever criteria they wanted, effectively filtering job seekers.

    This is prior art.

    • Sounds like someone didn't RTFC(laims)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      Hate to point out the obvious, but slashdot, relationships, journal, submit a story, karma, comment response emails, basically describes the principles of this patent. Perhaps the patent filers aren't low ID types and don't realise how long it has been around.

  • by jmerlin (1010641) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:24PM (#32596770)
    it appears that the declining quality of education in this country is reaching all the way to the patent registrars themselves. What a fine example of stupidity and.. dare I say.. incredible ignorance we have here. Honestly, who the hell hasn't heard of Facebook? Where do they find these people?
    • by skine (1524819) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:34PM (#32596868)

      If Facebook came afterward, then Facebook is not prior art.

      More importantly, the USPTO seems to allow patents on whatever hasn't been patented before, regardless of whether it should be patented.

      Honestly, I don't think this is the failure of the registrars, but a serious defect in the system that such a simple idea as social networking is patentable.

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:45PM (#32596962) Journal

        If Facebook came afterward, then Facebook is not prior art.

        The patent was filed in 2008. It literally looks like something that might have been written in 2000 and sat around in the bottom of a desk drawer for years before someone found it and mailed it in. Hell, it cites Palm Pilot, Lotus Notes, and the Internet White Pages as prior art, and nothing since!

        • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:58AM (#32599136) Journal

          The application was filed in 2008, true. But look! Here's another patent [uspto.gov] with essentially the same disclosure (different claims) that was filed in 1997! Magic!!

          Amazon went back and looked at their old technology, thought about it a bit, and realized that they had already all the core components of Facebook, they just hadn't realized it as such. And in the US system, even if you didn't realize it at the time, as long as you disclosed it you win.

          This kind of nonsense can be stopped if you tell applicants that they have to claim everything they're going to claim in their first application (keep divisionals based on restriction requirements but otherwise curtail continuation and CIP practice, to be technical). This is not a theoretical argument, either: Europe has just recently adopted a system like this, major pieces go into effect on October 1. See this PDF [sutherland.com] for more information. Executive summary of the European system: your invention is locked down two years after the first time the patent office sends you a letter. You don't get to go back 10 years later claiming you invented Google or something.

      • by Gr8Apes (679165)

        If Facebook came afterward, then Facebook is not prior art.

        1) Facebook existed prior to the 2008 filing.

        2) ideas aren't patentable - or shouldn't be.

    • It appears that the declining quality of education in this country also failed to teach you that patents aren't registered

      It also appears that you have failed to learn that 2004 (the year facebook was launched) > 1998 (the date of the application to which this application claims priority)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tkohler (806572)
        It appears that you have failed law school or at least the part of the patent bar that recognizes that the first effective filing date of this patent is 2 Nov 1997. "RELATED APPLICATIONS This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/022,089, filed Dec. 22, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,386,464 which is a division of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,486, filed Feb. 17, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,194,419 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/348,355, filed Jul
        • More like I failed my typing test and fat-fingered a 7 into an 8. However, as 1997 is even earlier than 1998, the typo does not change the analysis.
    • by lalena (1221394)
      This Amazon patent cited other Amazon patents going back to 1997 (filing date) - approved 2001: 6175831 [uspto.gov]
      Abstract: A networking database containing a plurality of records for different individuals in which individuals are connected to one another in the database by defined relationships. Each individual has the opportunity to define the relationship which may be confirmed or denied. E-mail messaging and interactive communication between individuals and a database service provider provide a method of constru
  • Love it! (Score:4, Funny)

    by portrman (1660077) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:26PM (#32596782)
    I love this, I hope Amazon tries to sue every Social Networking like site out there! Then we can watch it crash and burn. Most likely, they'll just hold on to it and claim it's value. Possible go after small dogs to gain a few pennies. But I'd love to see them try to hit up Microsoft/Google/MySpace/Facebook and probably several dozen other sites.
    • Re:Love it! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:56PM (#32597478) Homepage Journal

      Most likely, they'll just hold on to it and claim it's value.

      No, they'll hold onto it for cross-licensing purposes. The next time a business operating a service that vaguely qualifies as social networking tries to sue Amazon, Amazon plays this card. That's what patents mean to companies like Amazon: they're playing cards in a hand to prevent losing an expensive game. In a pinch Amazon could use it to extract licensing fees, but that's probably not their immediate intent.

  • I worked for a start-up in the .com boom whose selling point was "self updating address book". It consisted of a web app PIM suite (email, calendar, chat, address book, etc) where each field displayed was available for access to "friends" etc. This was 1999. The original patent filing date looks like 1997 though, so is that prior art, and if not, why is a patent whose filing date was 1997 finally granted now?

  • Unbelievable (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bteed (1832400)
    I don't even completely fault Amazon for this, the system is so broken that a company needs its own patent arsenal to defend itself from trolls. This one is really egregious, though.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:31PM (#32596846) Homepage
    The part of the patent posted in the article looks like the end. That's like patenting a Bicycle by saying it's a device with two wheels and some pedels which you can power to transport you places. Obviously that kind of patent would make not sense and there can be an infinite amount of bicycle designs which acheive the same goal but don't copy each other or rip each other off. In this case I highly doubt that Facebook actually took any code or even any major functionality from PlanetAll. I mean that's giving Facebook way too much credit. Basically Facebook was a dead technology until they went and merged a hack of Twitter's timeline in with their social networking system. Until they did that they didn't stand out from the pack at all.
    • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:36PM (#32596884)

      Filing extensions. It's how more than a few patent trolls managed to set their patents up, by continually filing extensions and amending them to better line up with where technology was going already then dropping them like bombs on anyone that came along.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/022,089, filed Dec. 22, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,386,464 which is a division of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,486, filed Feb. 17, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,194,419 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/348,355, filed Jul. 7, 1999 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,714,916), which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/962,997, filed Nov. 2, 1997 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,269,369).

        Sing with me! o/~ We all live in a

  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:32PM (#32596854) Homepage

    Even the USPTO has its own Facebook page. Bizarre!

    http://www.facebook.com/uspto.gov [facebook.com]

    Why does the USPTO need that when their own website is sufficient for posting information...

    Or is social networking how the USPTO decides applications now ... get enough "Likes" and you're approved ;)

    Ron

  • While I don't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by al0ha (1262684) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:33PM (#32596858) Journal
    agree with most patents like these, as long as it was awarded I personally would not at all mind seeing some cash rich entity open a can of whup-ass on Zuckerberg, at the very least it would be some form of karmic payback for stealing ( as is alleged) the Facebook idea from the students who hired him to help them. Cheating is one way to win at business, but not at life and I will never applaud a cheat, regardless of apparent success.
  • internet is social networking in reality (the transfer of information between individuals and groups), so basically Amazon have been given a patent for the internet, wtf crack monkey at USTPO let this one pass.
  • Invalid (Score:3, Informative)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:34PM (#32596876) Homepage

    The time limit for patenting after public sale or disclosure is one year. A judge would declare the patent invalid and throw this case out in five minutes. Minimal attorney fees will be involved.

    IANAL, but I have seen a similar case thrown out where the patent was filed one year and three days after first sale.

    • by yuhong (1378501)
      Well, seems that PlanetAll was launched November 16, 1996 according to this [navy.mil], while the original patent application dates back to November 2, 1997.
      • Well, seems that PlanetAll was launched November 16, 1996 according to this, while the original patent application dates back to November 2, 1997.

        Thank you for that information. I thought maybe the companies might have submarined it, but I thought -- 13 years, no impossible. So I didn't look it up or RTFA before I posted. My mistake.

    • IANAL

      Evidenced by your lack of understanding of patent law, specifically regarding continuing applications.

      • As I already posted [slashdot.org], I assumed it wasn't continued for 13 years, and didn't bother to look up the filing date. That turned out to be an incorrect assumption, and since Slashdot does not allow editing or retraction, all I can do is reply to everyone seeking to correct me.
  • ...system provides various services...For example...

    Various services? What am I doing sitting at work like a sucker? I should filling out a patent application for...oh, I don't know...teleportation! Everybody wants teleportation, right?

    The system provides various services to transport an object from point A to point B. For example, it could do it instantaneously and invisibly.

    Since everybody wants teleportation I just sit back and collect those licensing checks. Am I forgetting anything?

    • by GIL_Dude (850471)
      Or, it could show you advertisements during your trip (maybe the teleportation includes a method and a system whereby the user is detained in a cocoon-like sensory deprivation node where the only thing they can see or hear are advertisements for, by way of example, 5 minutes, after which time they are transported forthwith to their ultimate destination). The length of time of the adverts would depend upon the amount of money said user "bid" for the trip and the amount of money advertisers were willing to pa
  • damn... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:37PM (#32596894)
    How long is it going to take before they stop allowing software and business practice patents? This is just getting silly.
    • Maybe just one more day. Maybe tomorrow SCOTUS starts cleaning up the mess via Bilski. Maybe.
      • SCOTUS would never let the bad guys win, or carve out a niche scenario in their majority opinion such that the core underlying question remains fundamentally unanswered ... would they?
    • by EEPROMS (889169)
      technically they have, the US courts have already ruled software methods as not being patentable.
  • I read the claims, and noticed that 2 specifies 'friend requests' are sent via email. I only mention claim 2, because while everything else is unavoidably broad, and vaguely worded, I am fairly certain that Facebook specifically does not do this. Does this help to exonerate them?

    More generally, since I care not a whit for facebook, how many claims must one infringe on to be held to task? All of them? 50%? 1? Or is it ultimately, and entirely, up to a judge/jury to decide if you acted in good faith in
    • by tepples (727027)

      I lack a Facebook account, but YouTube friend requests are forwarded through e-mail.

      Meet all the elements of one claim and you infringe.

      • Meet all the elements of one claim and you infringe.

        Is there leeway for the judge to decide that while you may infringe, the claims you infringe upon are ridiculously broad? Is there a possibility for justifiable infringment; or is it completely black and white: You infringed, you pay the fine.

    • by rilister (316428) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:37PM (#32597344)

      Thanks for asking! Most people just go ahead and comment...

      You are in violation of a patent if you violate any single claim - but!

      Typically, you can describe claims as "independent" or "dependent" - in this case Claims 1 and 13 are the independent claims: they don't refer to any other claims.

      These are the most important claims. To work out if you're in violation of a patent, read these first. If you aren't covered by either of these, then you aren't violating the patent.

      The dependent claims (all the others) build on the independent claims by adding detail of some sort. You can't be in violation just by having the same detail in your implementation: you have to be violating this claim and the independent claim it refers to together.

      By the way, most discussions on patents on Slashdot are usually the result of an accumulation of misinterpretations of the way patents work. It's really *only* the claims that matter, and when the other parts seem broad, it doesn't matter at all. Don't get riled up by the background text or the abstract - as people so often do. However, to my eyes, (IANAL) this patent actually is absurd, for once.

      • Well thanks for answering! :)

        They say ignorance is bliss, but I find it quite frustrating. Generally, the more I understand about a system that produces seemingly undesirable results, the less vexing those results become.
  • This is broken (Score:4, Insightful)

    by karlssberg (1025898) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:43PM (#32596948)
    Software patents are clearly a huge mistake. The US should never have allowed them. They are costing business in the US a fortune and do nothing to protect the little guy inventor with the next idea that will change the world. They are simply a tax on innovation and must be stopped immediately.
  • Prior Art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:49PM (#32597002)

    A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users.

    How long has 411 been using a networked computer system?

  • having a geocities/or web page with links to your fiends pages which then contain links to other friends pages be the same thing? What about a webring?
  • how many absurd examples and exploits will it take to make some of you realize that this thing, CAN NOT work ? 'logic' being patented in the climax ? if a=> b, and b=>c then a=>c being patented ? what ?
  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:55PM (#32597054)

    I'm very pro-patents. I think they are necessary to spur new innovations in technology and, more importantly, share innovations with everyone as quickly as possible. Without patents, almost all manufacturing would be a trade secret, instead of the knowledge being spread world-wide as soon as a new invention arises. This, I think, is vital to our society.

    However, the more I think about the nature of software the more I think software patents are unnecessary, even for the true innovations out there, and therefore actually harmful to progress. With traditional patents, what you get is a machine design, which by necessity must give you the "secret" to the innovation. That secret can be small, so long as it's new and non-obvious it's still worth copying. But with the current state of software patents, even if you read the patent you must still either re-create the patented idea from scratch, using the patent as nothing more than a direction (with no "secret" revealed at all), or you must reverse engineer the product to discover the secret for yourself. That doesn't spread the knowledge of the innovation at all, and does nothing to add incentive to the creators of a new innovation. In fact, thanks to patent trolls, it actually inhibits innovation in a lot of cases.

    In my opinion, software patents need to either start coming with pseudo-code or be dismissed out of hand. All this bullshit of just listing a bunch of claims without any actual code behind it that can be applied by a software engineer is worthless. If the patent doesn't need any code for a competent engineer to re-create the product, then it's obviously not novel and should have been dismissed in the first place. Given the speed with which the software industry moves and strength of the open source movement, I think there is also strong evidence to suggest they are entirely unnecessary to promote innovation (which is what they exist to do).

    • In my opinion, software patents need to either start coming with pseudo-code or be dismissed out of hand.

      Read the "description" and you might find something like pseudocode. Certainly the diagrams in a software patent represent flowcharts.

  • hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bugi (8479) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:57PM (#32597062)

    I for one applaud amazon's efforts at destroying the patent system by demonstrating the extent of its absurdity.

  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nightfire-unique (253895) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @07:59PM (#32597092)

    When a process runs amok and takes down the host OS, we don't blame the process. We blame the OS. The OS's job is to protect the host (and other processes) from errant processes.

    While it's certainly unethical behavior, I don't think we should rush to blame Amazon for this and any of its future actions. It's like putting candy in front of a baby and getting upset when the baby reaches for it.

    The patent system should be dismantled. It is obsolete.

    Failing that, software patents should be unquestionably and finally ruled invalid.

    • by dAzED1 (33635)

      errr.....it's not necessarily the job of the OS to babysit everything. Nanny-state, much? If a process simply calls a recursive fork, it can cause problems.

      How about a different option - we blame the OS for not being set up well enough to handle assholes, and we blame the asshole for being an asshole.

  • I'm 33, have seen the rise of the dial-up BBS, Internet boom of the 90s, and still work in the IT industry. I don't have a MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter account. The only social networking that comes even close is Slashdot and the occasional postings on in other forums. Even so, I'm still relatively anonymous with the exception of what I tell you, and my online handle.

    Is it me, or am I the only one that could get a rats ass about these social networking sites. Some how, I feel like *I'm* the odd ball here w

  • Wake me up when they have destroyed each other.

  • My BBS predates this patent, and had all the stated features. ( as did many others )

    • The claimed features? Or just the ones blathered on about in the abstract?

      Also, was your BBS available for the examiner to cite as prior art? If not, you can't really fault the examiner for not citing it - examiners can't just say, "Yeah, I've seen that before," but not provide evidence to back up their statement.

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:25PM (#32597284) Homepage

    First there was the Who program that let you see who was logged on. Then Les Earnest wrote the Finger program which displayed their .plan file. This enabled them to share personal information like which high school they went to. Then you could send them E-mail or ttymsgs and talk about it. The Name/Finger protocol makes it work over the network. Social networking in a nutshell.

    Assholes.

  • RELATED APPLICATIONS This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/022,089, filed Dec. 22, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,386,464 which is a division of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,486, filed Feb. 17, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,194,419 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/348,355, filed Jul. 7, 1999 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,714,916), which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/962,997, filed Nov. 2, 1997 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,269,369).

    That last one is the prior art date - November 2, 1997. This predates Facebook, Friendster, and all that jazz by half a decade.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot is fond of finding patents that describe an invention in very broad terms and then say someone else did that. Whoever does that doesn't understand patents. Before complaining go to the section labeled Claims. A claim will contain a number of elements. If previous literature does every single one of those elements then the patent should not have been granted. Otherwise the patent holder can go after someone who does every single one of those things. If someone doesn't do even a single thing li

  • I hereby patent the antisocial network. Now get off my lawn.

  • ... but I wouldn't mind if classmates.com got sued out of business...

  • Why are people allowed to patent obvious stuff? People were doing social networking in 1997 via the internet. Geocities? AOL Instant Messenger? ICQ? BBS? Tripod? Classmates.com? Any of these ring a bell?
  • As a developer I am frightened every time I expose some code to the world. Who's patent have I infringed? If I make it so that a user's status is visible to others I can be assured that somebody has patented this. I would not be shocked if people have patents on things like logins and logouts, or a patent on centering things on a screen.

    Now that the patent office basically has given away a patent that seems to cover facebook to perfection what technically stops Amazon from shutting Facebook down? People m

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