theodp writes "A USPTO filing made public Thursday reveals that Microsoft is seeking a patent for something it calls 'One-Way Public Relationships' in social networks and other online properties, lawyer-speak for what's more commonly known as being a 'fan' of something online. It's unclear whether it's a goof on Apple, but Microsoft curiously used the example of a U2 fan named Steve to explain its 'invention' to the USPTO. Purported patent reformer Microsoft, which has called for the US to change from a first-to-invent patent system to a first-to-file system, filed the patent application in July 2009. Microsoft is a partner with and investor in Facebook, which first established its fan pages back in November 2007."
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