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Facebook Patents Your Rights Online

Facebook Patents Pokes-Per-Minute Limits 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-touching-me dept.
theodp writes "The USPTO lowered the bar again on Tuesday, granting U.S. Patent No. 8,296,373 to four Facebook inventors for Automatically Managing Objectionable Behavior in a Web-based Social Network, essentially warning users or suspending their accounts when their poking, friend requesting, and wall posting is deemed annoying. From the patent: 'Actions by a user exceeding the threshold may trigger the violation module 240 to take an action. For example, the point 360, which may represent fifty occurrences of an action in a five hour period, does not violate any of the policies as illustrated. However, the point 350, which represents fifty occurrences in a two hour period, violates the poke threshold 330 and the wall post threshold 340. Thus, if point 350 represents a user's actions of either poking or wall posting, then the policy is violated.'"
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Facebook Patents Pokes-Per-Minute Limits

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @05:58PM (#41758787)
    POKE 53281,0
  • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:00PM (#41758817)

    No wonder the USPTO is overloaded. If this is the garbage that qualifies as patent worthy.

    I'm going to patent ass-wiping thresholds now. Once you've wiped your ass 10 times in one sitting and you're still not clean then something has gone wrong...

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:08PM (#41758903) Journal

      Hah, Mark "Fucking" Zuckerberg here. I've already patented ass wiping thresholds, as well as asses and assholes. In fact, since Steve "Rotting Corpse" Jobs finally bit the big one, I'm even closer to cornering the asshole patent market.

      Look and be in awe of my might patented asshole!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, can I patent the slow death of the us trade economy by systematic patenting of any possible new idea? Oh yeah, I have to include "with a computing device' in there somewhere. If you can't beat em, join em.

  • Facebook inventors don't tend to be short on cash and that's one of the weakest patents I've ever heard of.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know, IBM's "colour in inter-office e-mails" patent still tops my list; but this one definitely makes my top 10.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)

      Facebook inventors don't tend to be short on cash and that's one of the weakest patents I've ever heard of.

      Sure money changed hands. Facebook paid lawyers, lawyers filed patent.
      The USPTO doesn't get paid off. They just rubber stamp things.

  • Genius (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:02PM (#41758833) Homepage Journal

    Man, that is some hard core stuff right there. Is there anyone frequenting Slashdot with genius-level IQ that could possibly break down this unbelievably complex, non-obvious behavior and explain it to the rest of us? This is what having billions of dollars of capital can do for you - bring the brain power to a company that is required to make these kinds of amazing discoveries. What I'm looking forward to are the physics and mathematical papers that can expand on these newly found principles and constructs. It's really the stepping-off point to marvelous things for humanity. In fact, I do believe this may even bring us a step closer to the Grand Unified Theory.

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Pokes are a stupid concept to begin with. Does anybody use a phone to make calls anymore?

      • by linear a (584575)
        "Phone"?
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Pokes are a stupid concept to begin with. Does anybody use a phone to make calls anymore?

        Only if I'm calling my mom. For just about everyone else, about the closest I come to a phone call is a text message.

      • As the subject implies. Thank Facebook for the existence of this concept.
      • Pokes are a stupid concept to begin with. Does anybody use a phone to make calls anymore?

        I'm one of the few that does. Got a nice cordless phone there in the kitchen, and a cool touchtone duck phone (like I remembered from Silver Spoons) out here in the living room. No cell phone of any type here actually. :)

        And as for the patent in question...

        "Slow down, cowboy. I think Slashdot already does something similar, though that applies to posting too frequently."

    • Re:Genius (Score:4, Funny)

      by Cryacin (657549) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:11PM (#41758937)
      Thanks pal, my sarcasm meter just exploded.
      • Re:Genius (Score:5, Funny)

        by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:47PM (#41759299) Homepage Journal

        Okay, then what is needed is a patent for limiting the amount of sarcasm in a commenting system. I'll lay the groundwork:

        For example, the point 360, which may represent fifty units of sarcasm in a five hour period, does not violate any of the policies as illustrated. However, the point 350, which represents fifty units of sarcasm in a two hour period, violates the sarcasm threshold 330. Thus, if point 350 represents a user's actions, then the policy is violated.

        Now it can never be said that I didn't contribute to Slashdot in a positive way after all these years.

    • by cvtan (752695)
      Let me explain the IF,THEN statement to you...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheEffigy (2666397)
      I think it is more likely a defensive patent, otherwise some douche will patent it first and troll them for cash.
    • Much as I hate Facebook with a passion, I think this is the "right" strategy for them to survive in a litigious patent regime. In a patent war, you need every weapon you could get. Frivolous patents like this may well be more effective in a patent war than essential patents where you can get sued for abusing FRAND licensing:

      http://apple.slashdot.org/story/12/10/24/2033252/doj-investigating-samsung-for-patent-abuse [slashdot.org]

      On hindsight, Google's acquistion of Motorola Mobility doesn't appear to have benefited it much

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Google hasn't directly been the victim of their abuse yet. They've been going after the phone manufacturers so far.

    • Actually you make a good point there. Perhaps one possible solution for the much needed patent reform is based on scientific achievement. For example, it could be required that for a patent to be deemed useful you would need at least 2 research papers published on big peer-reviewed publications. The papers could even be funded by the patenter but between the submital and approval of the patent it had to be peer-reviewed and considered useful.

      As a nice side effect, by funding a research paper directly or ins

      • The Journal of Social Media Interactive Dynamics, staffed by Facebook employees and reviewed by a few professors at the various new Facebook-funded University Chairs of Social Media Interactive Dynamics, would cost less than lawyers.
  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:07PM (#41758887) Homepage

    We might know of some prior art somewhere...

    • But not patented prior art.

      • by sjames (1099)

        That's the best kind. No matter what the patent office might think, the law doesn't distinguish between patented and unpatented prior art for the purpose of patentability criteria.

  • Hmmmm, my social networking site, which has been around for many many years, has had this since 2008 - I wonder if I should contact the USPTO?
    • Actually, my mistake, looking at the dates from the comments in the script files, those modules were originally scripted in 2006!
      • You just drew attention to yourself and admitted that you are infringing.

        Prepare to be sued!

      • by someones (2687911)
        Do it! post results.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, my mistake, looking at the dates from the comments in the script files, those modules were originally scripted in 2006!

        This makes a major difference the patent was "Filed: February 2, 2007"; if you published your work before then then it sounds to me like you do have prior art. However, that word "published" is going to be very important; you need to put it where other people can read it. A web site will do fine (especially if you can prove the date - archive.org is your friend). Open sourcing the code is likely to be perfect. If you kept this information secret and didn't somewhere explain how your system worked then

    • No thats not on facebook.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:13PM (#41758951)

    At what point does pokes per minute turn into a tickle fight?

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:17PM (#41758997)

    It is about time someone solved this poking problem! I am sure NASA will be licensing this technology right away!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From what I understand, "The female anatomy has ways of shutting that whole thing down."

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:19PM (#41759023) Homepage Journal

    AOL already implemented this with rate-limiting certain actions on AIM, and beefed it up even further with the warning system.

  • I'm going to file a patent to automatically bitch slap the wankers on slashdot who automatically make the stupid fucking "Oh yeah, well I'm going to patent xyz retard joke" whenever one of these stories shows up. And I'll file another patent to send those who automatically respond, "oh yeah well you'll have to get around my patent of your patent" lame jokes to the goatse guy for their punishment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:23PM (#41759061)

    We used to configure eggdrop bots on IRC to auto-kick users that performed X behavior X times in a time period of X. *sigh*

  • Can't they hire some decent software engineers to look at shit like this and automatically label this as obvious and not innovative? Maybe even on contract basis so they rotate people through so they don't eventually go crazy trying to filter the overwhelming onslaught of bullshit Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google patents. Right now even Microsoft is looking good compared to these guys, and that's saying something.
    • by Manfre (631065)

      The problem is that many of the larger companies pay bonuses to employees when one of "their ideas" is filed as a patent. There is a monetary incentive for programmers to generate this crap. IBM is another company that does this and I know a few of their employees that try to get IBM to patent anything and everything for the extra cash in their pay check.

        I still blame the USPTO for granting stupid patents, such as this one. Rate limiting is not a new concept.

    • If you go to stack exchange , google and the ustpo have gotten together so that 3rd party members and others can invalidate patents in crowdsourcing effort and look at other patents that have not yet been accepted. I have tried to submit this story twice now and was declined. Check out patents.stackexchange. If you think that certain patents should be invalidated then state your prior art and work with those that can help you research. By the way I have tried to start a thread on there about blizzard being
      • Good one. I just checked that out on stack. I'll give it a regular read. Thanks.
      • by gumpish (682245)

        Sadly once First-To-File kicks in, the question of prior art will be moot. Then the quality of patents will truly drop through the floor.

        I find it difficult to believe that the patent trolls are greasing up the politicians more than the industry players who would prefer reform.

        • Sigh. That's not true . First-to-file doesn't eliminate prior art as a eliminating rule for patent applications.

          The only difference between first-to-file and first-to-invent is when you have two patent applications for the same underlying invention, and the USPTO needs to decide who to attribute it to. Before, you could submit unpublished evidence of the date of your invention (e.g. dated documents), but not it decides based on who files first.

          Read the USPTO new rules, they explain clearly that AIA will ac

          • Yes, First-to-file avoids all the inconvenience of buying a stack of lab notebooks and ballpoint pens every year, and "distressing" them, so that when you want to file an invention you can write about it in notebooks of the proper age with the proper ink. (Macaulay remarks that in Bombay in the 19th century there were whole companies dedicated to keeping stocks of old parchment, paper and ink, often for official documents, for when someone needed a suitably dated forgery.)
  • I don't know why I read these anymore, it just makes me so mad. How do you patent "if (x > threshold) then perform_action()" ???? I know this is a simplification of what has probably been implemented, but this seems to be what facebook is claiming is the patent-worthy invention here... What the fuck USPTO? Go away... Please.. Now...
  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:28PM (#41759115) Homepage Journal

    Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.
    Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.
    Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.
    Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.
    Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.

    Nope, Slashdot is not in violation of the patent. Investigation closed.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:35PM (#41759183) Journal

    Slow down, Cowboy. You seem to have filed too many frivolous patents. Come back in 15 minutes.

  • I got back on Facebook in early September, after spending a while away from it. I'd been on it, on and off, since the .edu-address-required days, and have a lot of friends on there. I started adding them, and before long, Facebook decided I must clearly be a spammer, since no "new" user could possibly know a couple hundred people. It banned me from everything but posting to my own wall, accepting friend requests, and poking people, for a solid month.

  • Actions by a user exceeding the threshold may trigger the violation module 240 to take an action. For example, the point 360, which may represent fifty occurrences of trivial patents in a five year period, does not violate any of the policies as illustrated. However, the point 350, which represents fifty occurrences in a two year period, violates the stupid-patent threshold 330 and the blindingly-obvious invention threshold 340. Thus, if point 350 represents a user's actions of obtaining ludicrous patents f
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:55PM (#41759377) Homepage

    Reminds me of MSN messenger.
    The messenger used to limit sending of too many pokes per time unit, but it did nothing to limit receiving pokes.
    Catch the correct packet, and sent it 10,000 times a second on repeat; Good times.

  • Hey, If your poking more than 50 times in 2 hours your doctor needs to cancel your Viagra prescription and say; "GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME EXERCISE YOU FAT SLOB!!!)
  • Has anyone bothered to patent limits on how often can a third party break wind?
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:39PM (#41759705) Homepage Journal

    You can't do insane crap like this, like grant patents on token buckets, and then complain that people don't respect others' intellectual property. You're teaching us to despise your claims to ideas.

  • I have seen this before. Various things that limit messages, signups, email checks, login attempts. I can't count the number of times that I have been told "You have exceeded the number of XXX, please wait X seconds before trying again."
  • Where, exactly, is the originality?
  • If this helps to prevent one more product from implementing the concept of poking, the patent system may just be worth it after all.

  • Wikipedia's AbuseFilter is prior art.

  • Ask Douglas Adams:
    But first: When will people finally get sick of being "poked" in their social fannies by Faceclamp? With just a little consumer discretion, these 'creative geniuses' could easily be patenting their own obsolescence and isolation. For fucks sake, my fellow primates; is this the Personality Banquet At The End Of The Universe?

    Face7809904123: ""Good millennium," it lowed and sat back heavily on its Faceclamp poker , "I am the gullible Digit of the Day. May I interest you in the attributes
  • To poke more than once, both sides have to willingly engage in the poking. If one side deems the poking annoying, they just have to ignore the poke.
  • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:54PM (#41760665) Journal
    In concert band in high school, the girl next to me used to poke me every time the sheet music said "poco ritard." I should patent that before Facebook does. You know, to protect the entertainment rights of band geeks everywhere.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:55PM (#41760669)
    The current patent system makes it imperative that companies patent every line of code they write, so parasites like Intellectual Vultures don't come along and patent that thought and sue.
    • by black3d (1648913)
      Wish I had mod points. This really is the reason a lot of these "obvious" "prior art" patents come up, especially when the US is insanely moving to "first to file". Companies have to file, prior-art be damned, just to save themselves litigation down the track. That's also why a lot of major corps are filing patents with "no-sue" agreements. They're not patenting to litigate, they're patenting to prevent litigation. A patent is cheap compared to a day in court.

      That's not to say they're not going to then u
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:19PM (#41761083) Homepage Journal

    going to agree that "intellectual property" is neither?

    The only instances of intellectual property theft that have occurred has been when human culture has been stolen and privatized by "intellectual property laws."

  • 1. Create something nobody needs, and everybody but the most juvenile will find annoying.
    2. Create (obvious) method for limiting the annoyance created by step 1.
    3. Patent the method in step 2.
    4. ????
    5. Profit!

  • This reminds me of the Breidbart Index [wikipedia.org], a very longstanding
    measure of abuse (cross/multi-posting) to Usenet.

    http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/B/Breidbart-Index.html [catb.org]

  • Why would you let your users harass people with these features if you could just as easily disable them once they've reached this imaginary threshold?


  • Dear Facebook,

    Thank you for this. I've often felt a bit lost when people should be told they are annoying. Now that you have cemented this in code aspies everywhere will finally be able to know EXACTLY when a person is annoying and by definition when they are annoying.

    I do hope that all future messages, tweets, pokes, posts, nods, winks and obscene gestures will be filtered via Facebook in the future, for posterity.

    Perhaps we could go into business together. My registered patent is a bit similar but i
  • However if a user responds in the same speed, the communication is marked as "valid" and no limits apply.

    Facebook. If you're going to implement this, let me know. I'm sure we can work something out.
    If I find out you implemented this without contacting me, it will be a different story.

  • they implemented a feature FTP sites had implemented twenty years ago. Back then it wasn't called poking or friend requesting, it was called hammering [webopedia.com], and you got temporarily (or sometimes permanently) banned for it.

    Back then it was a common sense solution to a common problem. Ever since common sense died out in the 90's, people think common sense solutions are novel and deserve patent.

  • I recognize that the facebook/email analogy fails on a more than one element, but much of the standard form applies.

    Your patent advocates a

    (*) technical ( ) legislative (*) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mail

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