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BT Pushing Hyperlink Patent

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up dept.

Patents 458

There's been a lot of new publicity lately about the British Telecom trying to defend a patent that they claim means they invented hyperlinking. Currently they are going after Prodigy for using hyperlinking back in the early eighties. We've mentioned this one before, but it really looks like they are going to push it. Insane.

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GNU/fp? (-1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987652)

Prolly not, I just had one.

I love you.

All the time.

Well, at least for 20 seconds.

Re:GNU/fp? (0)

Frank White (515786) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987693)

I patented the First Post in 1972 on a prototype discussion server at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Please do not distribute my patented invention any longer without express written consent of the Kansas City Royals.

Re:GNU/fp? (-1)

IAgreeWithThisPost (550896) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987715)

I'm afraid prior use shows the words "First Post" first chipped into an egyptian heiroglyphics tablet, wherein multiple persons were discussing the significance of pussy in their spiritual lives.

Re:GNU/fp? (-1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987777)

Very well. I would like to license it for one more use, as I am attempting a hat trick today. I am willing to trade blowjobs and/or hot grits for the right to fp.

Please note that blowjobs will be fulfilled by none other than kc royal's pitcher Roberto Hernandez [] , who asks that you not ejaculate into his moustache.

Sometimes a cigar is just a penis. I mean cigar.

1st post ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987657)

... to say BT sucks.

-1 redundant for the rest please.

Re:1st post ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987688)

100% on topic.

first post... (-1)

robsmama (416178) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987663)



Lose (1)

gtada (191158) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987665)

Didn't BT just lose another case?

crazy (0, Offtopic)

thatnerdguy (551590) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987666)

thats a crazy idea!!!

Already set to die on arrival (5, Interesting)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987668)

The prevailing talk among the oucrts is that BT is going down a dead-end and no court is particularly interested in pursuing an obvious legal morass. Added to which it is widely known that Xerox has a strong case for prior art.

I wouldn't get too worried about this.

Re:Already set to die on arrival (2)

NumberSyx (130129) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987704)

it is widely known that Xerox has a strong case for prior art.

Also didn't some guy use the hyperlink idea back in the 60's on a project I think was called Xanadu or similar.

Re:Already set to die on arrival (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987720)

You are thinking of Ted Nelson, the self-described "father of hypertext".

Re:Already set to die on arrival (4, Funny)

Flounder (42112) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987774)

As mentioned in the article, Douglas Englebart demonstrated something that sure looks like a hyperlink. Once again, Xerox PARC saves us all! w00T!

OT: BSD License. (-1)

Frank White (515786) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987671)

I know this is a little offtopic, but it doesn't same fair to me that Slashdotters are so gung-ho about the GNU GPL. I understand that many of you truly believe in freedom. But then why would you use a license that actually RESTRICTS freedom?

I'm not trolling, I really want to know.

BT says.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987675)

"All of your links are belong to us"

It just goes to prove... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987678)

...that Brits are jackasses.

Re:It just goes to prove... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987841)

that yanks are a load of cunts, and the entire world hates them.. unfortunately they are too arrogant to see it

quite within their rights (0, Troll)

ideut (240078) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987679)

Those of you who can see through the usual slashdot editorializing will realise that BT are a veritable innovation machine. Not only did their visionary engineers invent the concept of hyperlinking, their lawyers are not afraid to defend their intellectual property against scoundrels and freeloaders such as Prodigy.

Re:quite within their rights (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987716)

> their lawyers are not afraid to defend their intellectual property

You ideut. Funny how lawyers are not afraid of making sure they're needed to make large sums for large companies.

Re:quite within their rights (2, Insightful)

Rebel Patriot (540101) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987721)

Not only did their visionary engineers invent the concept of hyperlinking

You didn't read the read article which plainly states that Prodigy has video-evidence of a man demonstrating hyperlinking in 1968.

their lawyers are not afraid to defend their intellectual property against scoundrels and freeloaders such as Prodigy

Since when did Prodigy become a freeloader? Perhaps I am mistaken but everything I've seen about them indicates to me that the internet would still be in its infancy if they hadn't struggled to build it.

Re:quite within their rights (1)

Rebel Patriot (540101) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987778)

You didn't read the read article

Forgive my typo. "You didn't read the article"

Re:quite within their rights (2, Insightful)

fantastic (398233) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987746)

Except when that patent was filed, BT was a government monopoly paid for by the British tax payer.

Yes there were some smart guys there, but taxpayers subsidized this innovation. BT the company shouldn't reap the rewards

Re:quite within their rights (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987787)

Excellent troll. First class.

-- Brian

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987680)

First Post!

Harassment as a business model... (5, Insightful)

Nijika (525558) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987681)

I don't see how this makes good business sense, even if there is MONEY to be made. Alienating, well, everyone who ever will and does use the Internet is probably bad for PR.

In other words, just because you DO have a patent doesn't mean you should always attempt to enforce it.

Re:Harassment as a business model... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987765)

Hu? They are a government inforced monopoly, what do they care about PR?

Re:Harassment as a business model... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987804)

Are you from the UK?

BT started off from a monopoly several years ago, and have maintained this position though bullying and attacking the rest of the marketplace. BT are terribly complacient and it shows though thier buisness stratagy. From their failure to recognise the burden their debts have placed on the company (which worried the city no end) right though to the running battles they've had with other service providers over local loop unbundling (i.e. giving flat rate charges to other competitors to access last mile)

Oftel (the UK offical telecoms regulator) have been having running battles with them ever since thier creation.

I don't think BT really give a damn about getting this kind of bad press. Those people that listen already know their aggressive buisness tactics, though that don't care...well, don't care.

Very similar to an Onion article... (4, Funny)

twocents (310492) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987686) .html

Except the for fact that the current article seems to be based in fact.

Who Cares? Here is some real news (-1)

LunchLady (555057) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987690)

AT&T Deploys Cisco Optical Solutions for Nationwide Intelligent Optical Network
Cisco ONS 15454 and Cisco Transport Manager to Deliver Service Variety and Velocity for Landmark Next Generation Network

AT&T Release:
AT&T Deploys Nationwide Intelligent Optical Network

SAN JOSE, Calif., February 11, 2002 - Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, today announced that AT&T has deployed the Cisco ONS 15454 SONET Multiservice Platform and Cisco Transport Manager, components of Cisco's Complete Optical Multiservice Edge and Transport (COMET) portfolio, in its nationwide intelligent optical network. Currently connecting more than 40 cities nationwide and carrying live customer traffic, the carrier's new intelligent optical network will carry Private Line, Internet, voice, data and video traffic while restoring service faster in the event of a failure or disaster and significantly improving service delivery intervals.

"With these Cisco platforms at the edge of our intelligent optical network, AT&T is able to maximize service variety, bringing all types of traffic to our customers cost-effectively, densely packed onto single fibers while significantly improving service velocity through rapid and efficient provisioning," said George W. Gawrys, director of transport network planning, AT&T Laboratories. "AT&T continues its leadership in optical networking by deploying these next-generation technologies to build a revolutionary intelligent optical network and deliver even greater value to our customers."

After a comprehensive evaluation, AT&T chose the Cisco products because their functionality matched AT&T's reliability and operational requirements. Systems passed rigorous certification testing at the AT&T Laboratories in New Jersey and are now carrying live customer traffic on the AT&T network.

"Cisco understands the extreme importance of reliability and high availability in today's service provider networks. Information is rapidly becoming the most valuable asset to the enterprise customer, and having access to that information from anywhere, at anytime, is crucial to business success," said Bill Nuti, senior vice president, worldwide service provider operations, Cisco Systems. "Meeting the rigorous certification requirements of AT&T Laboratories is a significant achievement that underscores Cisco's commitment to our service provider customers."

The market-leading Cisco ONS 15454 is a key building block of AT&T's intelligent optical network. In this deployment, the ONS 15454 provides efficient multi-service aggregation of lower-rate customer traffic up to high-speed (OC-48 or OC-192) pipes for routing across the network. The ONS 15454 also delivers bandwidth scalability in a low-cost, small footprint system that automatically provisions circuits at a variety of bit-rate speeds (from 1.5 Mbps to 10 Gbps, and Gigabit Ethernet). Cisco Transport Manager, the single integrated optical element management system for the entire Cisco COMET portfolio, provides efficient automation of provisioning and maintenance functions for the ONS 15454. As part of AT&T's intelligent optical network, more than 100 Cisco ONS 15454 platforms are deployed today, with significantly more planned for the future. Some of these will be installed on customers' premises and others in the AT&T metropolitan and long-distance networks.

"AT&T's revolutionary nationwide intelligent optical network harnesses the capabilities of today's leading technologies to bring greater productivity to customers through efficient delivery of high value services," said Jayshree Ullal, group vice president, optical networking group, Cisco Systems. "This deployment also marks a strategic milestone for Cisco as we continue to drive innovation through the Cisco COMET optical strategy to meet the unique requirements of our service provider customers."

Through its Cisco COMET strategy and portfolio, Cisco develops innovative technologies to help drive profitability and productivity for its service provider and enterprise customers. With carrier class functionality, products like the ONS 15454 are designed to meet the stringent criteria for quality, reliability and flexibility while enabling greater service velocity and variety.

About Cisco's Complete Optical Multiservice Edge and Transport Portfolio
The Cisco Complete Optical Multiservice Edge and Transport (COMET) product line offers maximum service velocity, density, variety, and capacity, building the foundation to accelerate IP+Optical networking. Supporting TDM, Ethernet, IP, Storage, and Wavelength services over SONET and DWDM with integrated bandwidth management and end-to-end provisioning, the Cisco COMET portfolio offers efficient, unprecedented flexibility and capacity. With the Cisco COMET portfolio, enterprises and service providers drive profitability and accelerate IP+Optical networking.

Re:Who Cares? Here is some real news (-1)

IAgreeWithThisPost (550896) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987750)

Cisco owns you.

/me makes out with the Orange paper of love.

How would this be enforced? (1)

PowerTroll 5000 (524563) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987694)

Are they going to go to every U.S.-hosted website and count all the hyperlinks to calculate their royalties?

It also seem strikingly similar to's claim to single-click patent [] .

It seems noble, yet absurd.

what do they have to lose? (3, Troll)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987695)

The telecom industry is on life support at the moment. Stocks are about as low as they can go (WCOM hit $6.00 a share sometime last week, from a high of $85.00).

they will lose this case and they will probably go bankrupt soon after. Its just a money grab that is doomed to failure.

Patent filed in 1980?... (2)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987697)

The article says "BT is determined to prove that a patent lodged with the US patent office back in 1980". That's 22 years ago. Doesn't that mean it's already expired even if it were valid (which I doubt)?

Is BT Government-run like the BBC or are they a completely private entity?

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987723)

We're not that lucky; the text of the BBC article says in the UK the patent expired, but they're pursuing this in the US, where it doesn't expire for another four years.

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (2)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987795)

in the US, where it doesn't expire for another four years.

That's what I was wondering about - why does it last an extra 6 years in the US? Did they wait 6 years to file the patent in the US? Or is there a special "Intellectual Property" law in the US that gives them extra time? (I wouldn't think so, but knowing what's gone on with IP in the US, I wouldn't be too surprised...)

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987825)

I think it's just that the duration of patents is longer here. Each country has its own laws, so it's entirely possible that in the US they get it a little longer than in the UK.

Or it could be from point-of-file, where they filed for the patent six years later here than in the UK, but that doesn't make sense because the whole problem with their claim is they stuck the patent certificate in a closet somewhere for 20 years...

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (5, Informative)

markmoss (301064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987831)

US patents used to run for 17 years from the time a patent was granted, vs. 20 years from the time of application in the rest of the world. So if it expires in 2006, then it must have been granted in 1989 -- that's a rather long delay if the UK application was in 1980. Or, the article seems to say that the suit now is over patent infringement in the 80's -- which makes this a remarkably long time to wait, and isn't there an applicable statute of limitations?

Also, US courts are just now beginning to consider that failure to enforce a patent for an unreasonably long time (like while the patented technique becomes industry standard practice, with no royalties), may constitute "prosecution laches" and make the patent unenforceable. See this. []

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (4, Interesting)

iainl (136759) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987737)

BT are a privatised corporation - they used to be Government owned and run (actually, while the BBC is paid for by a tax they defend their independance fiercely), but were sold off during the 1980s to pay for tax breaks.

As for the whole patent thing, I've no idea when the patent runs out, and I'm not even going near the question of if its defendable. Let the lawyers argue that one out.

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987743)

Seems like the perspective of a british resident might be useful - you have to understand that BT is basically a useless bunch of morons. They have a monopoly, and had a huge amount of money. Yet they have actually managed to waste the money (15 billion in debt I think) and abuse the monopoly to such an extent that in the UK, tin cans with string between them are an attractive alternative to the telephone. Faced with their own complete inability to provide any kind of modern telecoms, BT have obviously decided their only hope is to pursue ancient dodgy patents.

Ah - the answer to that question - BT are not government run, but WERE given an effective UK telecoms monopoly by the government, and currently have a government run and funded body helping them. This body, OFTEL, exists to provide strategic help and encouragement to BT, and to prevent the passing of any laws or actions which would prevent BT exploiting its monopoly. This is the reverse of the anti-monopoly legislation in most countries, and perhaps explains a lot of the current mess in the UK.

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (1)

Kafteinn (542563) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987768)

from article: The UK patent has already expired so ISPs in the UK would escape having to pay anything. But in the US, the patent does not expire until 2006.

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (5, Informative)

NickV (30252) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987776)

The article says "BT is determined to prove that a patent lodged with the US patent office back in 1980". That's 22 years ago. Doesn't that mean it's already expired even if it were valid (which I doubt)?

Nothing pisses me off more on /. than people who don't read the article. Hell, I'd expect better from someone with a UID > 20000.

From the actual article, (you know... what you didn't read)...
"The UK patent has already expired so ISPs in the UK would escape having to pay anything. But in the US, the patent does not expire until 2006. "

Also, to answer your second question (which is also IN the article you didn't read,) BT used to be a part of the Post Office, but it no longer is so.

Re:Patent filed in 1980?... (1)

JMJ (15496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987780)

Is BT Government-run like the BBC or are they a completely private entity?

BT is a private company.

More info here [] , should you have a great desire to know the full details.

BTW, BT is in real trouble financially, and it's busy trying to carve up and sell off its parts. (Mobile bit, wireless bit, broadband bit).


Might have merit... (3, Informative)

gamgee5273 (410326) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987698)

BT might have an argument with merit, but I'm doubting it.

HTML's roots are in SGML, the markup language primarily used by tech writers to create modular documents from multiple sources (ie, a car manual and related sales material would pull from the same source). A hyperlink is a logical extension once you place a markup language in a networked environment - by jumping from page to page you're, in essence, creating a modular "book" just as a tech writer could create a car manual.

Again, there may be some merit, but precious little, IMHO...

I killed linus torvolds! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987701)

I did, and i killed his pet penguin too! No more linux, its dead along with BSD, BeOS and Princess Margret!

Techno/Industrial Wars? (4, Funny)

Morphy3 (227773) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987703)

What beef does BT [] have with the group Prodigy [] ?

Re:Techno/Industrial Wars? (2, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987766)

Liam sampled the engaged tone to use as the backing on the 12" single of Charley all those years ago. Since they have only just realised, they now want royalties for everything, since its that sample-fest that launched his (and his drug dealing mate's) career.

n.b. Some, all or none of the above is complete bollocks.

Interesting that they don't hit someone big (2)

teambpsi (307527) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987705)


Why aren't they taking on someone like Adobe ? Or AOL?

This seems like a bully on a playground move

Re:Interesting that they don't hit someone big (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987805)

My guess would be that they are starting with Prodigy because that early eighties linking is both closer to what the patent describes, and also Prodigy were more clearly responsible for the linking. With the web, do you hit the commitee for inventing the html standard, Netscape for building the browser, AOL for running the network or the designer of the web page?

Think the RIAA has it tough... (2)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987707)

I think they should pay attention to whats going on with the file-sharing apps. They take down one and another pops up. How would they ever suspect to enforce this? Along with that, how can you patent a content delivery method like linking? Thats complete bullshit, this is even worse than that company that patented pausing tv 20 years ago. I'm really starting to get sick of this intellectual warfare. I had it explained to me by a upper-level IBM fellowship that pretty much the whole point of IP is have a weapon against your competitor, why else would they patent so many inane things. *sigh*... fuck...

Re:Think the RIAA has it tough... (-1)

robsmama (416178) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987764)

"I'm not a dork, I'm a geek. Ask my girlfriend."
Very funny...
Do you expect us to believe you have a girlfriend?


You, good sir, are a liar! (3, Funny)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987792)

"I'm not a dork, I'm a geek. Ask my girlfriend."

Geeks don't have girlfriends. You are at most a technically gifted person, who has a girlfriend.

Article in The Sun Newspaper Online (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987708)

The English newspaper Sun has a worth and informative article [] about the BT patent in its Internet section.

Tagline is hilarious (5, Funny)

TheTomcat (53158) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987710)

The last part of the article:

'See "internet links" for the text of BT's patent. There is no charge for doing so.'


If they win (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987713)

I'm gonna look for a fossil driver for Linux. Is FidoNet still around?

Seriously.... (1)

TommyBear (317561) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987714)

Can anybody who works for or near BT management explain exactly what goes on in these poeple's heads?

I mean are BT totally clueless? How could they possibly win such a case... Unless of course they want to run the other company into the ground. Don't you love it when companies stop innovating to compete and instead litigate.

Not an expert in patent law. (5, Interesting)

Restil (31903) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987718)

However, it would appear that BT only discovered this patent in 2000. Therefore, they made absolutely no effort to enforce it over the last 15 or so year that it was being used by countless companies and organizations, not to mention end users. Even if they're able to extract royalties from this day forward, can they go back retroactively and enforce them on older products as well? Even the GIF patent, which I disagree with, only charged royalties from that day forward, not from the date they obtained the patent.

Can I do this legally? Patent something, hope someone else develops a similar technology, say nothing for 20 years until the patent is about to expire and economies depend on my product, then just raise my hand one day and say, "Excuse me! You have to pay me now".

I know the patent holder can selectively choose to license that patent for no charge and they coudlnt' come back later and change their minds retroactively. What about in this situation, where they've said nothing. Done nothing to enforce it. Didn't even realize they HAD the patent. Its almost as if they were purchasing patents for the sole purpose of hoping one of them would be a huge breadwinner in the future.

However, at least they had an actual product tied to the patent. Its not as bad as the idiot who patented "downloading music off the internet" as an idea with no product to back it up and trying to extort money out of companies as a result.


Re:Not an expert in patent law. (4, Informative)

bourne (539955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987781)

Can I do this legally? Patent something, hope someone else develops a similar technology, say nothing for 20 years until the patent is about to expire and economies depend on my product, then just raise my hand one day and say, "Excuse me! You have to pay me now".

Yes, they can do that - trademarks have to be actively defended, patents do not. Consider Unisys and the gif (lzw?) patent.

Re:Not an expert in patent law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987806)

Damn, that just might be the loophole that could save Prodigy; part of having a patent is ENFORCING IT. If they patented this, but buried it in a pile somewhere for 20 years, all while their 'patented' technology was being used, they can't come back later and enforce it. It's pretty hard to not be exposed to the Hyperlink, so they can't plead "we just discovered the infringement."

This was told to me by a patent lawyer; basically it's a use-it-or-lose-it policy.

Re:Not an expert in patent law. (5, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987838)

> Can I do this legally? Patent something, hope someone else develops a similar technology, say nothing for 20 years until the patent is about to expire and economies depend on my product, then just raise my hand one day and say, "Excuse me! You have to pay me now".

Yes. Yes, you can do it, if the 'similar technologies' truely fall under your patent's umbrella and nobody else has prior art (or you ensure that you find the prior art first, and 'bury' it somehow). Shit, companies file multiple patents 'around' existing patents, and then sue the original patent holder (provided they are small fry enough) for infinging on their umbrella. It's common practice. Patent laws are fucked up, but with less stringent patent laws, numerous entrenched patent-oriented industries, legal practices, etc, etc would also be fucked up. Ergo, there is little chance of going backwards. As usual, we've got so many doctors at the bottom of the cliff that we can't afford to teach people how to NOT WALK OFF THE CLIFF anymore. Too many people lose too much money and too many jobs, etc, etc .. but the patent process needs a serious readjustment in my views. Knowing what I know, I would never consider filing a patent for anything I thought was new; although I'd somehow make sure I had evidence of 'prior art' so I could proove at a later date that it was my idea to begin with if some corperation thinks they can claim it as theirs. I'd keep it to myself, unless I was at a big company, and was I indespensible to them (ie, I wouldn't even sell my idea to a large company, because they shaft you.) Currently, patent laws work against small timer innovation (it costs shitloads of money to even file a patent) and encourage this kind of big business petty behaviour; especially when said patent holders need an easy quick injection of cash. I've heard that companies like IBM have inter-department patent races to see who can file the most patents in a year, which is why we've got insanely granular, subjectively valid patents that are really only 'enforcable' by virtue of the amount of lawyers you have on a leash.

Thats my understanding. IANAL, YMMV, and I'm sure you've all got cousins with personal stories that can debunk my raving lunacies ...

pathetic (1)

SquierStrat (42516) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987724)

This is a pathetically stupid way to throw away tax dollars (court costs), and lawyer's fees. There is hardly any doubt that they'll lose this one, it's an idiotic claim! Assuming they win though, we all lose - monetarily. Can you say, price hikes?

God invents hyperlinking (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987726)

Vatican (Feb 11 2002) - After hearing a lot of reports over various parties claiming to have invented the hyperlink. The Holy se, today delcared the issue closed, by stating that hyperlinking was initially implemented by God almighty (See RFC -1).

God Alimigty, Pope cried, was the definite inventor of what we now regard as the means of travel on the Internet. God, apparently envisoned the need for his slaves to find where they are and where they would go, thus he created what is now known as a pointer (or the index finger).

Furthermore it was also suggested by the Vatican technical commity that God defined the pointer as a pointer to unsigned long. Where long is defined as the number of days (See day definition on first page of bible) the universe would exist.

Copies of this declaration has been sent to the USPO and other such offices.

Please disregard any fake stories of hypertext invention and linking from now on.

Father Amaa Fui (Phd. CS and Deutology)

Brits... (3, Insightful)

Knunov (158076) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987727)

I once admired the Brits for their loathing of American flakiness. I love America, as a whole, but if I could excise parts, frivolous lawsuits would be first to go.

Anyway, I was working over in Europe and I happened to catch a British commercial...for a personal injury lawyer.

"Did you slip on a tin of Spam at the local market? Was your kid injured during a game of rugby? If so, you may be entitled to damages. For more information, call (whatever)."

(some guy dressed up in a rugby outfit)

"I received £10,000 pounds for (whatever)"

Looked and sounded *exactly* like an American personal injury lawsuit commercial, except the voiceover had a British accent.

They are getting as ridiculous as we are. It's a shame, really. I always admired their stiff upper lip and total hatred for whining.

Things they are a-changin'


Gotta make money somehow (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987728)

Well, BT has to find a way of paying of its mountain of debt somehow.. why not tax everyone on the net instead of actually finding a business plan that works.

Actually, BT can also (just about) lay claim to inventing the first electronic computer (when they were the Post Office) at Bletchley Park towards during WWII. Maybe they can tax us for that as well.

With any luck... (2, Funny)

ickle_matt (122935) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987729)

They'll win, then we can all sue them for the time wasted clicking on broken links... :-)

Mod -1, I shouldn't be allowed to post when I'm bored.

Prior rights to hyperlinks - from old /. articles (5, Informative)

jgaynor (205453) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987730)

1968 [] - includes MOVIES of working links

1965 []

1940's []

And alot more []

The list goes on and on. Let them squander their money. To quote a recent game - "If theyre deadset on squandering prescious resources sabotaging their own [] efforts, I say we let em do it."

Along the same vein I cant believe Xerox hasnt made a stink about this. You think they would have learned their lesson after not screaming about the mouse, GUI, etc . . .

And I invented... (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987734)

...air quotations

Seeking Money from ISPs? (1)

zentec (204030) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987736)

Seems they are looking toward the wrong goat to milk. The ISPs are providing network connectivity. The patent infringement case is about how the network connectivity is used, namely the *application* layer.

They should be going after Microsoft and AOL.

Of course, this will be tied up in court for a very long time, so the chances of BT getting anything out of this, even with a favourable ruling, are nil.

Re:Seeking Money from ISPs? (1)

MrIcee (550834) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987830)

I agree... ISP's have nothing to do with hyperlinks - except perhaps on their own homepage. Unless they expect to sue us for being "accomplices". :)

But I guess by going after Prodigy, they are going after their online links? I'd think under that guise, they'd go after AOL first, but I bet Prodigy has way less money than AOL to defend itself (not to mention probable BT ties to Time Warner).

The worse thing would be if not only did the courts rule in BT favor... but also said they were owed money rectroactivly - in which case we'd all have to pay from day one. Egads!

Just out of curiosity (1)

lostboy2 (194153) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987741)

how broad is the BT patent? (and yes, I'm too lazy to search for the answer myself).

Seems to me that the idea of a hyperlink goes beyond just Internet use. Anyone using the <a> element in an intranet webpage might run afoul of this patent as well, as well M$ for the way they link their help files together.

In any event, this seems like a silly legal exercise to me.

-- D

Prior Art, Hopefully (0, Redundant)

UsonianAutomatic (236235) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987742)

Just last week I read an article about this - I think it was at, but I can't find it now.

Anyway, apparently there was a snippet of film made at (I think) Xerox PARC in the 1960's wherein somebody demonstrated navigating from one screen of text to another by way of a linked word; a hyperlink, in other words.

If these bastards get away with this, what happens when they set their sites on Mozilla, Konqueror, et al? Well, maybe nothing, since they're probably only interested in going after companies they stand to make large wads of $$$ by suing. :-/

Boston Link Party? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987745)

What is interesting is that the patent has expired in England, but not the US (until 2006), so they sue here. Seems they are still a little miffed over that thing in 1776... Perhaps we should remove all links to UK sites?

Re:Boston Link Party? (1)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987775)

Do we have to dress up like native americans while we remove them? :)

prior art 1968 (5, Informative)

martin (1336) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987748)

Well looks like the US PO wasn't that brilliant even in 1980. This [] Slashdot article shows MIT demonstrating the idea back on Dec 9 1968.
Given BT's cash problems I think they are trying it just in case they can get some money.

No realistic chance of winning... (1)

PoiBoy (525770) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987751)

Even if BT can lay claim to having invented the hyperlink, I don't see how any court would award any type of damages to BT.

First, notice they are going after Prodigy for using this technology in the early 1980's; that's nearly 20 years ago. For all intents and purposes, BT waived any realistic chance of winning a case given that they've waited this long.

Second, even if a court did uphold BT's claim that they invented the hyperlink, BT would get nothing. Since apparently the technology has been around for decades and is now so pervasive that literally 100's of millions of people use it, a hyperlink is rightfully considered "public knowledge." There would be no way to award damages or collect royalties.

In short, while BT may have a rightful claim to developing the hyperlink, as a practical matter itt means nothing except a note in the history books.


DonkeyHote (521235) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987752)

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BT has done it before... (2)

bourne (539955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987754)

Who here remembers Sun's YP - excuse, me NIS?

"NIS was formerly known as Sun Yellow Pages (YP) but the name Yellow Pages(tm) is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom of British Telecom plc and may not be used without permission."


So sue me... (1)

batgimp (323956) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987756)

From article...

>some argue BT would not have taken the case to >court if it was not convinced it could win.

Hmmm, does this mean that it doesn't have to go to court ? After all, BT...with all its expensive lawyers, is convinced it can win. So what's the point in even trying to defend against it.

Very dodgy point of view...

The lawyers must be proud (2)

Silas (35023) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987757)

What lawyer goes home at night thinking "wow, I really made a difference today. I'm doing my own little part to end poverty, stop war, and make life for all people everywhere happy and sustainable by... PATENTING HYPERLINKING." ??

BT needs to hire a Director of Choosing Your Battles.

Re:The lawyers must be proud (1)

batgimp (323956) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987812)

Interesting point, I've always wondered where lawyers find their job satisfaction. It's not like they're doctors(healing), engineers(building), or even business men (who, it could be argued, provide employment).

Umm, apart from counting their money, obviously. That's probably very satisfying.

So.. (1)

BCGlorfindel (256775) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987759)

Are they going to sue [] me now?

Alan Thicke. DEAD. (-1)

Alan_Thicke (553655) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987760)

I just heard the sad news on CBC radio. Comedy actor/writer Alan Thicke was found dead in his home this morning. Even if you never liked his work, you can appreciate what he did for 80's television. Truly a Canadian icon.
He will be missed :(

Show me That Smile (The Growing Pains Theme Song):

Show me that smile again.
Ooh show me that smile.
Don't waste another minute on your crying.
We're nowhere near the end.
We're nowhere near.
The best is ready to begin.

As long as we got each other []
We got the world
Sitting right in our hands.
Baby rain or shine;
All the time.
We got each other
Sharing the laughter and love.

Before you all get started... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987763)

Before you all get started, please don't assume that we brits support this in any way, shape or form. Every self-respecting British geek despises BT for their obstructive approach to broadband internet provision. At every possible stage they have dragged their feet in an effort to keep competitors out. A few years ago their chairman made a speech in which he claimed that the internet was still not "fit for purpose". Of course, the "purpose" he had in mind was making billions for BT. This patent claim is just another attempt by BT to make money with having to compete fairly with other organizations.

BT (2)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987779)

Proabably the marketing drones at BT didn't really think of the fact, that they could use that ridiculous patent (which will never stand up, they are not going against Joe Shmoe, but big money) to polish up the image of one of the worldwide most despised carriers. Just imagine instead of


Yeah, we found out that we own this patent and we decided to release it for free for the greater good of the community.

OK, so they pursued option 1. They look like the greatest losers and dickheads. Oh yeah; and they'll never see a cent in the first place. They also wouldn't see a cent with option 2 of course, but would be a really geeky and cool carrier (ok, that's a bit of a stretch for our UK readers) instead of complete jerks, that can't distinguish their arses from a hole in the ground.

Hypertext was invented in 1945 (4, Informative)

Scaba (183684) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987782)

I thought everybody knew Vannevar Bush invented the concept of hypertext & hyperlinks with the introduction of Memex [] in 1945. Read the full article here [] . Maybe someone should mention this to BT before they waste a lot of time with this nonsense?

when did Ted Nelsen think of hyperlinks? (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987786)

I remember talking about it the 1980s. His articles could be used as "prior publication".

Those fools. (4, Informative)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987789)

The obvious thing for Prodigy to do is to call Douglas Englebart as a star witness. You can watch video of a point and click hypertext system he was demoing back in 1968. One place that can be seen is here: l

He even demoed a shared display system between two geographically separated terminals. If I was BT and saw Englebart on the defence's witness list, I would sue for peace immediately. 1968 for Pete's sake! Those guys need to be slapped upside the head with a wet mackeral.

From the bbc article (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987790)

Patently ludicrous

However, according to the UK Patent Office, patents are, by nature, vague so such an argument might not prove to be sufficient defence.

Part of BT's patent (see internet links) "If I patented a flying machine the patent could equally apply to helicopters and aeroplanes even though they are completely different," explains Stephen Probert deputy director of the Patent Office.

"It seems ludicrous that a patent for one technology can cover another but patents are anything but precise and are meant to cover things that aren't yet invented," he says.

I don't know what to say--is this guy insane or is that how patents really work? By inventing the hot-air baloon I also invent the airplane, helicopter and spaceship? Patents are meant to cover things that aren't yet invented?!

these people are desperate. (3, Informative)

laserjet (170008) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987797)

Here are my favorite parts of the article:

"BT stumbled upon the patent during a routine update of its 15,000 global patents in the summer of 2000."

They didn't even know they had it, first of all. Their patent expires in the year 2006 in the US. What happens if you don't defend a patent (I am not a lawyer, I am curious if anything changes if you don't defend a patent)

Plus, this patent is so general. And here is their evidence:

Prodigy's unlikely saviour comes in the form of a fuzzy black and white video which shows a 1968 demonstration by Stanford computer researcher Douglas Engelbart apparently demonstrating hypertext linking.

I would like to see this video... Seriously, though, I think this is going to be a huge PR disaster when this blows up in their face. Not only do they look like desperate bastards, but also like idiots trying to claim a patent like "the flying machine" entitles them to the royalties of airplanes, helicopters, gliders, etc. (Ana analogy the article pointed out.

how low cna you go?

Take a look at the patent (1)

Dick Click (166230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987799)

The patent contains this definition:
"plural remote terminal means, each including (a) modem means for effecting input/output digital data communication with said central computer means via the telephone lines of a telephone network"
I access web servers via cable, not telephone lines. I expect most servers out there are not connected over "telephone lines" per se (telephone lines used to connect telephones). I wonder if this will be argued.

If BT was a publicly traded U.S. company... (1)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987801)

...They would have a legal obligation to their shareholders to pursue any money just laying on the ground, similar to the AOL/TW vs. Microsoft antitrust going on with netscape. Since this is not the case, maybe BT is beholden to the British Government in a similar way. Or maybe they are helping the cause by showing the U.S. that foreign entities are figuring out how to exploit our own copyright in frivoulus lawsuits.

wow the British comment... (2)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987803)

"However, according to the UK Patent Office, patents are, by nature, vague so such an argument might not prove to be sufficient defence."

In the USPTO they should get rejected as being 'vague and indefinite' if they are to vague. This is a basic patent rejection. So if the language of this patent is to vague to understand today that should be sufficient to invalidate the patent. Boy would that suck for them to be told that the patent is no longer valid and never really was.

what about .doc files? (2)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987808)

Microsoft WORD (.doc & .rtf) files & outlook email/newsgroup articles automatically add links if you enter in a URL in the body of the document, and you can also set up links in Adobe Acrobat files... I suppose those would be covered under a ruling for BT.

They forgot about the mice... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987814)

From the patent claims:
Informaton for display at a terminal apparatus of a computer is stored in blocks the first part of which contains the information which is actually displayed at the terminal and the second part of which contains information relating to the display and which may be used to influence the display at the time or in response to a keyboard entry signal. (emphasis added)
Throughout the patent, references are made to "keyed digital data", but it never mentions mice, or pointing devices or point-and-click devices, etc.

So, if there is a literal interpretation, all you need to beat the patent is a mouse.

Now we just have to get the entire computer world to use these 'mice' things...

BBC Humor... (2, Redundant)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987816)

I loved the bit at the end of the article:

See "internet links" for the text of BT's patent. There is no charge for doing so.

Well, it amused me, anyway. It would appear that the BBC has a sense of humor..

500th redundant joke time! (-1)

IAgreeWithThisPost (550896) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987818)

If you would like to sponser the 500th redundant joke, please contact me.

Presenting, the 500th redundant joke for this topic. Here it is, the 500th redundant "Maybe I should go patent ." HAHA.

Watch for more 500th redundant jokes, coming to a slashdot near you!

My patent (1, Offtopic)

pubjames (468013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987822)

You know when you get really bored at work and so you decide to scrape all the finger-cheese off the keys on your keyboard?

I've got a patent on that, I have.

Re:My patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987836)

> I've got a patent on that, I have.

On the crud, or on the process of de-crudding?

Just curious.

the video evidence against BT (1, Redundant)

thumbtack (445103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987826)

of Douglas C Englebart demonstrating links in Dec 1968 can be found here. []

my patent... (0, Flamebait)

acherrington (465776) | more than 12 years ago | (#2987835)

I wonder if there would be any way that I could patent my invention of scrubbing Carbon Dioxide out of the human body through resperation, replacing it with oxygen?

God never patented it, so I should have rights to it instead...

Survival mode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2987837)

BT are that desperate for a bit of reliable revenue, as what passes for their management have slammed a company deep into the ground that looked so promising just 10 years ago.

They are still many billions of pounds in the red, despite issuing the biggest cash call in British history (5.9 billion pounds), some frantic sales of overseas assets, leasing back property, and more recently spinning off their mobile business. There have been angry scenes at emergency shareholder meetings, senior brass quitting in disgrace, etc. So right now they will grab at any readies they can lay their sticky little claws on.

I wish had enough space to tell you all the times I have been let down by BT on network projects: "sleepy ISDN" syndrome, installation "engineers" who couldn't find the right spot to put in a line despite my drawing big black boxes on the wall in magic-marker labelled "BT install here", etc. So much for the magic wand of privatisation, curing all those horrible nationalised industries.

Their mgt dug their heels in on ISDN roll-out to protect old business; they are finally being dragged by the regulator out of the same old racket on DSL. They are one of the worst-run businesses I've ever had the misfortune to work with. Starting out as a privatised monopoly with all the assets, skills and R&D firepower of the British govt's old monopoly telecoms service, they have successfully sucked all the value out of what might have made a good private competitor, and I don't expect them to be around in a year's time, at least not under the name BT.

So go for it lads, hoover it up while you can, and maybe you can cheer the shareholders up enough in the short term to allow you a cushy trip out the door when the buyout happens.

Am I coming across as bitter here? Sorry.
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