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Facebook Patents Location Social Networking

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the wish-i-thought-of-locations dept.

Patents 120

bizwriter writes "Facebook just received a patent with broad claims that would seem to cover much of what Google (GOOG) Latitude, Foursquare, Gowalla, and others try to do in letting users share their locations with others. Patent number 7,809,805, called 'Systems and methods for automatically locating web-based social network members,' covers people manually entering a status, sending that and their location from a wireless device, and sharing both the status and location with others. Facebook's corporate value just took a big jump — and a number of other companies might have to either challenge the patent's validity or consider licensing deals."

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Suing (2, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810152)

With all the mobile companies already suing each other, this should just add more..

Awesome.

Re:Suing (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811094)

With all the mobile companies already suing each other, this should just add more..

Awesome.

IAAL

FTFY

Re:Suing (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811218)

They will not necessarily attempt to enforce it. It's been a widespread practice for many years to accumulate a portfolio of weak patents and hold them in reserve for defensive use.

Feh (0)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810270)

I'm the first to admit that I use the hell out of Facebook. Keeping in contact with old classmates, helping organize LAN parties with friends, posting about new articles on my site, doing the general "ZOMG it smells like snow outside!!!" type of things...but I never really saw the appeal of Places.

If really wanted people to know where I was, wouldn't I just post about it? Or is this something that some people just get, and others don't...? Also, how could Facebook patent it? They were hardly the first to offer this type of location service...

Re:Feh (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810862)

"Keeping in contact with old classmates,..."

I never got that part. Why would anybody want to stay in touch with people you have nothing in common, just because a computer assigned the same classroom to them for some time, umpteen years ago.

Re:Feh (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810982)

In my case, there were people that I was good friends with, but they moved away (either to live elsewhere, or to go off to college.) Out of the 186 people I'm friends with on Facebook, about 70 of them are people that I used to be friends with in K-12.

Re:Feh (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812070)

You had friends in K-12? You're much different than most of us here.

Re:Feh (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812222)

I got lucky...all of the schools I went to had a HUGE geek/nerd population. There were almost as many geeks/nerds n my high school as the Abercrombie-wearing "popular" kids.

Re:Feh (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#33816826)

This is one of those rare "cool" features of Facebook. Aside from the typical long-lost friend you reconnect with, there are dozens of people I was friends with in secondary school but were not close enough to overcome large distances. These are the people you liked, but if you went out to have a beer at a bar with them today, you probably wouldn't get tot he bottom of the first glass before you ran out of stuff to talk about. With FB, you can catch up, see their kids, and find out what's up with them in manageable, unawkward snippets. It has other benefits, like getting you the inside scoop if you're traveling; often you have an acquaintance in the area you're going to, but - again - you don't want to go through that goofy "how's your life" telephone conversation. And it's kind of neat to see what these people are doing without making a "reunion" event out of it.

As for the random assignment - your shared experiences is what bonds you to others. The time you spent together _is_ the basis of that friendship, even if the meeting was not planned.

Re:Feh (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33815070)

It's unfortunate that you think your friends are the only ones who would find this information most valuable. The other Facebook "friends" such your local Police would be most interested in this as well, should a car be stolen in the area where you posted from at that exact time for example - even if you had nothing to do with it.

Predicted future news: (4, Insightful)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810294)

Companies patent widely implemented ideas and sue everyone. Oh wait, that's not new.

Re:Predicted future news: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33810350)

It's not only not new, it's patented by halliburton. [slashdot.org]

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

think_nix (1467471) | more than 3 years ago | (#33813120)

damn the guy who didn't patent the toilet flushing mechanism seriously lost out .

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33814592)

damn the guy who didn't patent the toilet flushing mechanism seriously lost out .

Shit out of luck, you might say. :-P

But, really, humanity is better off without that being patented. ;-)

Re:Predicted future news: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33815718)

Actually, many improvements to the toilet were patented by Thomas Crapper. I'm not joking.

The purpose of the patent system (5, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810318)

Well the current purpose of the patent system is to provide work and revenue for lawyers. Its a way for them to attach themselves like parasites to the software buisness.

Re:The purpose of the patent system (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811048)

Don't blame the lawyers that there are people/companies looking to sue each other. That's a cultural problem, not one caused by lawyers. The patent system on the other hand, ya, that's broken.

Re:The purpose of the patent system (3, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812108)

A culture supported by lawyer politicians or the lawyer judiciary?

Re:The purpose of the patent system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33814656)

Lawyers = evil
Politicians = evil
Judges in West Texas = evil

Politician from West Texas becoming President = EVIL Führer

Re:The purpose of the patent system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33812974)

Yeah, don't hate the game, hate the player! Wait...

Gentileman to evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33810332)

So does anyone know if I can move to antartica, I figure no one can find me there, wait Google street view is there now, crap. Does anyone know when I can move to the Moon?

Re:Gentileman to evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33810930)

Move in with Osama Bin Laden, you'll never be located.

Re:Gentileman to evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33814622)

Clippy: It looks like you're trying to escape the planet. Would you like assistance.

Not a chance. (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810366)

There's pretty much no chance this will stand up in a lawsuit. Plenty of other companies beat them to market with a product like this. Foursquare for instance.

Re:Not a chance. (1)

johann21 (1701990) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810566)

If you RTFA, the patent was filed in February, 2007. Foursquare wasn't launched until March 2009 according to wiki. So at least in the case of Foursquare, I don't see how they can claim prior art. I'm pretty sure Google Latitude was launched in 2009 as well. I can't speak to other systems though.

Re:Not a chance. (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810896)

RTFA fail :-(

Re:Not a chance. (1)

Vorpix (60341) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811352)

Google bought Dodgeball (which did this sort of location tracking via sms) in 2005. Dodgeball's founder (Dennis Crowley [twitter.com] ) then created Foursquare. If anybody should be patenting this it should be Crowley or Google.

Re:Not a chance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33810746)

If they filed before the other products were introduced, they'll win.

Re:Not a chance. (1)

Fat Cow (13247) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811312)

When they brought it to market is irrelevant. It looks like they filed this patent in 2007, which predates foursquare.

However it was filed after dodgeball. From wikipedia, dodgeball required you to text your location rather than auto-detecting it from the gps. The claims in the facebook patent specify auto-detecting your location so it doesn't sound like dodgeball is prior art.

Was there something prior to 2007 that was already doing this? Maybe brightkite or loopt?

Re:Not a chance. (1)

VisiX (765225) | more than 3 years ago | (#33814800)

It doesn't matter, patents have to be nonobvious. This is clearly an obvious extension of an existing technology.

Re:Not a chance. (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#33817724)

Was there something prior to 2007 that was already doing this?

I'd think that lots of the GPS gadgets back in the 1990s would qualify as prior art. Pretty much all of them communicated their position to another computer via some sort of "network" link, RS-232 or bluetooth or USB or whatever. There was software on the other computer that accepted the GPS info and did something mappy with it.

How could what facebook's doing not be a trivial variant of what GPS gadgets have done from the beginning? The only difference is different network hardware. Yeah, maybe there's different software on the other end now, but that GPS software doesn't know what's at the other end of the comm link.

A Better Idea (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810476)

Perhaps instead of suing each other and licencing everything they could all get together and help get rid of software patents. Just imagine the money they could save on lawyers, in both applying for the patents, and defending against them.

Re:A Better Idea (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811824)

Lawyers, and by extension politicians, would never let that happen.

Filed in 2007 (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810478)

Before everyone goes off a wall here, it should be noted Facebook applied for this February 2007.

Foursquare didn't even exist until 2009.

Dodgeball (which Google bought and created Latitude from) was started in 2005, but at the time it was based on TXT messages, not GPS, so not sure it applies.

Re:Filed in 2007 (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810562)

As a follow up - if anything I am just pointing out the patent is 100% valid, which just goes to show how pointless software method patents are. Between the time of filing and the time of approval an entire industry had already been created with many competitors, before Facebook even got around to implementing the thing the applied for a patent on.

The patent system moves too slowly to be useful for software patents. It's only possible purpose is litigation, it does not provide any incentive to innovate.

Re:Filed in 2007 (1)

VisiX (765225) | more than 3 years ago | (#33814820)

You can't patent something that is obvious. Tacking GPS onto Dodgeball would occur to anyone who is familiar with both.

/. fails again (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33810484)

How is it that every time a patent article is posted slashdot never posts the claims and always posts something from the abstract or the title which gives the patent holder no rights at all. The first claim is "1. A method of sharing locations of users participating in a social networking service at a geographic location, the method executed by a computer system and comprising: receiving location information and status information from a mobile device of a first user of the social networking service, the location information representing a geographic location of the first user, the status information manually provided by the first user on an input module of the mobile device; associating the location information with the status information of the first user in a database; and sending the status information and the location information of the first user to a second user for display. "

While that claim is still pretty broad it isn't nearly as broad as the thing posted in the summary.

Maybe some day /. will understand how to look at a patent but it probably won't be any time soon.

Re:/. fails again (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810822)

Problem is my old website had the capability to do ALL of this before it went under. Our newer reincarnation does not have this built in, but I still have the full database from my old website from 5 years ago. Would this count as prior art against the patent?

Re:/. fails again (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811860)

In theory yes.

In practice you'll never survive a trial long enough to prove it.

Re:/. fails again (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33815200)

Problem is my old website had the capability to do ALL of this before it went under. Our newer reincarnation does not have this built in, but I still have the full database from my old website from 5 years ago. Would this count as prior art against the patent?

Prove it. You can send prior art to the USPTO to consider.

Re:/. fails again (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811060)

While that claim is still pretty broad it isn't nearly as broad as the thing posted in the summary.

It's still blatantly obvious to anyone with an IQ higher than a watermelon.

Re:/. fails again (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811150)

> It's still blatantly obvious to anyone with an IQ higher than a watermelon.

Which means that the C-level execs will think it very clever.

Re:/. fails again (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33815240)

While that claim is still pretty broad it isn't nearly as broad as the thing posted in the summary.

It's still blatantly obvious to anyone with an IQ higher than a watermelon.

Prove it. Remember, patents are legal documents that require evidence, an argument, and a conclusion to invalidate. You've got the conclusion part, but you're only 1/3rd of the way there.

Division of labor (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811292)

How is it that every time a patent article is posted slashdot never posts the claims and always posts something from the abstract or the title which gives the patent holder no rights at all.

Because the editors are waiting for someone like you to make a comment that analyzes one or more of the independent claims. Slashdot editors are good at what they do, and armchair paralegals are good at what they do.

Re:/. fails again (1)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811572)

While you have a point about the general level of comprehension of patents and patent matters on /. (and you're hardly the first to make it) I'd say this was a very poor choice of article against which to raise that criticism - unless you can explain exactly how that claim "isn't nearly as broad as the thing posted in the summary".

Re:/. fails again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33813630)

Disclaimer I have work for the PTO in the past. I can explain exactly how the claim isn't nearly as broad as the summary. We will look at each element in the summary and in the claim and go over how the claim has more elements making it much less broad than the summary. Also a thing to remember was this patent was filed in February of 2007 roughly 4 and a half years ago so while it may be obvious now it apparently wasn't so obvious for the patent examiner in the prior art before 2007.

Systems and methods for automatically locating web-based social network members, covers people manually entering a status, sending that and their location from a wireless device, and sharing both the status and location with others.

1. A method of sharing locations of users participating in a social networking service at a geographic location, the method executed by a computer system and comprising: receiving location information and status information from a mobile device of a first user of the social networking service, the location information representing a geographic location of the first user, the status information manually provided by the first user on an input module of the mobile device; associating the location information with the status information of the first user in a database; and sending the status information and the location information of the first user to a second user for display.

The summary really doesn't say much in how the system and/or method will automatically locate members in the social network. It does state the users of the social network will be manually entering a status. This does narrow the scope a little. Means bots won't be entering the status or the status won't be updating itself on its own but the user has to update/post the status. Next the scope gets narrowed down further that the status is being updated/posted from a wireless device and location info is being sent with it. The type of location info is not provide so this could be things like gps, which tower they are getting wireless service from or other things like that. The last part of the summary is narrowing the scope so both peices of information the status update/post is available to other users.

Now the claim tells us this method has to be executed by a computer system, seems pretty obvious but this would rule out things like coleman with there ad campaign that they were the first social network. The scope is than narrowed down by stating the computer system will receive location information and statues information from a mobile device. This would rule out fixed location things like a desktop computer. The scope is than narrowed down further by saying said information is from a user of the social networking service. Than the claim goes on to specify the location information is representing a geographical location of the said user. Like the summary the claim states the status information must be manually proided by the first user on a input module on the first device. The claim is than further narrowed by stated the location information with the status information is in a database. Lastly the claim is narrowed down by stating the status info and the location info is sent to a second user for display. This last part of the claim does not say that second user has to be part of the social network.

Ok now if you read all of that you are thinking wow this guy is dumb and just posted the same thing written a little different twice. However the summary never states the method has to be executed on a computer system. Which this might not seem like a big deal but it really does narrow the scope of the patent a good amount. Also the claim goes on to say the information is in a database. You are probably thinking where else would it be and right now I can't think of any other place you would put it but that doesn't mean it couldn't be in something else. Lastly and I think this is a really important difference the summary says the information will be shared with others. This could mean posting the info to somewhere and a second user going to look at that info where it was and not being sent the info. The claim however is limited beyond this and the information has to be sent to a second user.

The patent is very board still and I understand that but as an editor it should not be that hard to copy and past the first claim than let everyone on /. whine and moan.

Something I do find interesting with this patent is if you go back and look at the application 20080209011 [uspto.gov] is the claims on the application are more narrow than the claims on the patent indicating there was probably very little written prior art in this case.

Re:/. fails again (1)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 3 years ago | (#33815804)

"I can explain exactly how the claim isn't nearly as broad as the summary."

I really appreciate the work you put into that but I'm afraid I don't think you've succeeded - at least not from the perspective of the ordinary programmer or entrepreneur etc. I don't want to start quibbling about the degree and practical significance of each of the narrowings you identified - although in light of claim 21 at least one of them seems /entirely/ moot! - I just don't think those perfectly valid and patent-lawyerly-proper distinctions make the broadness that most of those reading this article would've initially perceived go away.

Marco! (3, Funny)

phrostie (121428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810490)

Polo!

*Cease and disist letter arrives in mail

weaksauce (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810532)

Can I patent wiping my ass so I can sue everyone too?

Re:weaksauce (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810658)

You want to claim prior art? How old are you?

Re:weaksauce (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810872)

Why would anyone else want to wipe your ass?

Re:weaksauce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33812388)

Won't be able to sue me! I never wipe!!!

Re:weaksauce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33815478)

I use a bidet! :-D

This is just stupid (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810610)

This idea is completely obvious when taking into account users having internet enabled mobile devices with GPS.
Shame on the USPTO to bundle up a couple existing technologies in an obvious manner that effectively shuts down inovation.

Re:This is just stupid (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811030)

It's just business as usual at the USPTO.

I, for one, am glad (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810620)

that their years of hard work and billions of research dollars spent on the concept of telling friends where you are in addition to what you are doing has been rewarded. Can you imagine what kind of world it would be to live in where they were not given a patent for such a far-reaching, insightful, life-changing idea? It is brilliant innovations like this getting well-deserved patents that reaffirm my faith in our system of intellectual property protection. Don't listen to the nay-sayers who will undoubtedly claim that the idea is obvious, and undeserving of a patent; this is clearly a game-changing idea that no other company had the right combination of foresight and will to develop, and Facebook clearly deserves the right to charge a licensing fee to all those lazy copycat companies that can't come up with an original idea of their own.

Google Latitude (1)

dasdrewid (653176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810696)

This patent was filed February 28, 2007. The only thing this patent seems to add on to what Dodgeball [wikipedia.org] did in ~2000 is that location is that instead of entering a location manually and sending via SMS, the patent has the device uploading GPS location data, and having a single program within which to enter location and status data. Considering GPS wasn't commonly available in 2000, and neither were smartphones that could run programs and had data plans, I don't see how this isn't considered an obvious improvement on a previous invention.

Prior art (2, Interesting)

ntheory (1381059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810720)

Patent filed Feb 28th, 2007 by Facebook Announced November 8th, 2006 by Helio [cnet.com] GFY Facebook

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33811782)

Yeah, Good For You, Facebook.

Re:Prior art (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812382)

I came in here to post this :o
I thought it was older than that, like c2004

APRS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33810774)

Sounds very similar (location and status) to APRS [wikipedia.org] .
The ability to send your GPS location and a status to a remote point? Yeah, that's not new.

Wow, that parent summary looks even more familiar.

GPS identifier and status for web-based social network members located at or near the same location automatically appears on a GPS-enabled device.

APRS does that, just without the web based social network requirement. And I am pretty sure that with stations receiving and updating an internet server, you could make it work very similar to what some of the things they are talking about in the patent.
New? Not really, just stuck "social network" on it and made it work with a social network. Novel? Again, APRS has supported things like this for a while and I'm sure there are station listings online that can be queried to show who is at a location.

Possible prior art? (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810806)

There's a social app for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Blackberry called Grindr [grindr.com] .

It uses GPS or WiFI location data to show potential (male/male) dates nearby.

Re:Possible prior art? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810902)

was it created prior to 2007?

Re:Possible prior art? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812574)

Probably not but APRS [wikipedia.org] predates Facebook by a very long time.

We used it on our Palm pilots in the mid 90s.

Re:Possible prior art? (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33813034)

I was going to bring up APRS but you beat me to it.

For the uninitiated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Packet_Reporting_System [wikipedia.org]

Re:Possible prior art? (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33813074)

Sorry for repeating the link. Someone can feel free to mark me redundant. I had the comment typed out and in my cut and paste buffer, and forgot to delete that line when I changed the first....

Re:Possible prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33815186)

APRS

As usual, nothing new (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810810)

Back when I was still a student, I used to update my status and location on my web page on the campus network. And I am aware that people used to do this with their "finger" profiles back before there was the web. Some people with "text pagers" even managed to these updates using their pagers. (Also, other things were wired to publish their status on web pages (or finger profiles), for example vending machines and hot tubs.)

Command and Conquer (1)

enven (992813) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810836)

The control/proprietary power of Social gaming/application on FB and its platform will become far more controlled now (Which it already is) - They are just thinning the herd again...

Abolish Patents. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810882)

maybe repeating this like a machine will get it to you : patents can NOT work. dont try to make a faulty mechanism work through excessive effort.

Re:Abolish Patents. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812960)

Never would have realized - thanks! We'll get right on that!

Sincerely,
The Rest of the World

Re:Abolish Patents. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#33817074)

Patents are abused -> abolish patents, copyright is abused -> abolish copyright, fine, we could then abolish arms, religion, philosophy, law, property, culture, language, ideas.

Fight abusers instead of giving in for everything they taint, no, uh?

Prior Art? APRS (3, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810952)

As an old amateur radio operator I must ask. How is location based social networking different than APRS [aprs.org] that's been in use for over a decade?

Operators with an attached GPS had their location updated automatically, Operators without a GPS entered their location manually, and the location was passed with each message packet. There were web pages that allowed people not currently on-the-air to monitor the communications via http.

Re:Prior Art? APRS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33812906)

APRS was invernted in 1994, by 2000 had all the features described in the patent. And, unlike a lot of claims of prior art, this one is meticulously documented in the proceedings of the Digital Communications Conference by WB4APR, WU2Z, K4HG, and others. Of course, fighting this will be expensive, but hopefully someone will.

The only ground to contest this prior art is whether ham radio is a social network. On that score I can only paraphrase the Breakfast Club: "It is social. Sad and pathetic yes, but social"
     

Re:Prior Art? APRS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33813296)

But it's "on the internet" now, so it's totally new, right?

Corporate value just took a big jump... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33810954)

... that will last until the patent is challenged on the bases that a) it is obvious to someone skilled in the state of the art and b) it was being done long before they thought of it (www.aprs.org)

they can have it (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811006)

So, how do I turn it off, again?

Patenting (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811018)

Have we patented patenting yet?

Re:Patenting (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811952)

A patent on patenting would never be upheld because it would derail the gravy train for the legal industry.

Infringes on MY patent (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811034)

I must remind Slashdot that I hold the patent for "placing characters in on a blank space in order to form legible text that delivers information remotely to computer users." I await my royalties check.

Re:Infringes on MY patent (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812006)

Unfortunately there's one test all patents do have to pass: Not pissing off the legal industry.

Anything that stops lawyers from doing their thing will never fly.

Re:Infringes on MY patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33813606)

I must remind Slashdot that I hold the patent for "placing characters in on a blank space in order to form legible text that delivers information remotely to computer users." I await my royalties check.

I am reading this from my phone. ;)

10 year old prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33811076)

they did this with phones in NY and Japan 10 years ago, and before that, PAPERS HAD PERSONAL ADS

The claims seem obvious. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811084)

Especially the first few. Not much of a patent.

Negative patents (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811398)

Such kind of patent harms internet and advancement in general. Why not patent things in a way that would lead everyone to go forward? I..e. if someone patent posting duplicate news would be a boom for slashdot and other similar communities

What is a "social networking service"? (1)

bsquizzato (413710) | more than 3 years ago | (#33811518)

Maybe I missed it, but I find it interesting that the patent doesn't explicitly state what a social networking service *is*. Sure, we all "know" what it is -- but in something like a patent shouldn't this be very clearly defined? What if a "social networking service" encompasses presence/IM/chat software? The XMPP protocol (Jabber, now owned by Cisco, is based off this) has drafts (see XEP-0080 [xmpp.org] ) already written for providing user location in that context. I'm sure this isn't the only draft written of its kind. Think of large enterprise solutions such as Microsoft OCS, Cisco Unified Presence, Avaya OneX. I bet they all have location solutions in the works. Do these fit into the realm of "social networking services"?

Re:What is a "social networking service"? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812098)

> Do these fit into the realm of "social networking services"?

The patent attorneys who drafted this certainly hope so.

Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33811658)

        " I am Here ! " is patentable.

          I am anouncing my patent pending on " You are here "

            The depth and breadth of the current wave of stupidity is amazing.

             

Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33811754)

Two words: Prior Art.

What exactly goes on in the USPTO? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812064)

Who the hell is in charge of the software patent division?

Re:What exactly goes on in the USPTO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33813118)

Hey Slashdot: you should get us an Ask Slashdot with some of the USPTO people.

Re:What exactly goes on in the USPTO? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33814138)

Mod parent up! That would be extremely fun!

GOOG! (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#33812072)

Because I know that when I was reading this story I was idly wondering what Google's stock ticker symbol was!

Trivial to show prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33812196)

There is an amateur radio system called Automatic Position Reporting System that was invented in 1994. By 2000 it could do every feature claimed in the patent, including the use of handheld gps devices and online databases, manually entered status reports, and the rest. It is all documented in the proceedings of the Digital Communications Conference.

This patentwont stand.

Love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33812862)

Unless you are deploying a competitor to the GPS system, then you shouldn't get a patent on anything related to location sensing, because I bet they all use GPS and send updates to a server on the internet using XML. Obvious by definition.

Isn't that nice (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33814826)

But it seems to me that it is a lot like patenting using the telephone, after Bell patented the telephone. Wait! I take that back. Please ignore this. I need to go to the patent office real quick!

Bad taste in mouth (1)

chrelad (1428399) | more than 3 years ago | (#33816068)

Makes me not want to use Facebook. I hope that's the reaction they were looking for ;)

loopt was formed in 2005 doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33817228)

I think the patent examiner was underpaid, bored and not paying attention when he let this through. Examiners should get fired for this stuff... oh wait, they can't hire enough of them.

Sharing location information would never be obvious to someone skilled in the art of mobile software, after all it was never do.... oh wait, in 2007 when this was filed lots of people were doing it.

I just filed a patent on a computing device attached to a screen, this gives me hope it will get approved!

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