More on the Friendster Patent

The WSJ published a more in depth article on the evolving Friendster patent drama… with more hints that the Friendster clan just might take the “low road” after all.

Since my earlier entry on the subject was a popular post, I have been watching the story carefully. I had feared the news would put a damper on my own plans to build a social network on my sites - but it became clear early on that the patent only applied to a “six degrees of separation” model that is unique to Friendster, MySpace, FaceBook and LinkedIn.

Some rather disconcerting quotes from the WSJ:

Mr. Lindstrom says the company’s lawyers are encouraging him to consider “taking people out from a litigation standpoint.” But he says he is also weighing less extreme approaches, like asking for patent-licensing fees or not taking any legal action at all.

“The attorneys we’ve talked to say the patent is very strong,” Mr. Lindstrom says…

The company says it also received a “notice of allowance” from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week indicating that the company is likely to soon be granted a patent that covers technology that lets users upload their own content, like photos, onto a friend’s page.
[note from eMom: Wwhhaaaat???!!!!]

I guess in some ways I have to play devil’s advocate. Just because Friendster isn’t very well liked, doesn’t change the fact that they hit the space before FaceBook, MySpace, et. al. Yet I’m in disbelief that the “prior art” we all thought would be there hasn’t actually surfaced - at least not that I have heard about yet.

So this has two implications:

  1. Social Networking will evolve to accomodate avoiding the patent, and all future developments in this industry are going to be fresh, new and different
  2. The biggest sites on the internet are either going to die or make some innovative changes. And it will cost them a lot of money to do so.
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