Social networking patent up for grabs!

August 31, 2007

Now if I had some spare cash I may be tempted by this!

Forbes report that a groundbreaking patent related to social networking is coming up for auction very soon. The “Jaipuria Patent”, U.S. Patent 7,047,202, and a pending continuation-in-part application, which are amongst the foremost patent filings related to the social networking industry. The Jaipuria Patent was filed in 2001 and claims priority to an earlier application filed in India in 2000 — before the growth of the social networking industry. These patent assets will be offered as Lot 54 at the Ocean Tomo Fall 2007 Live IP Auction on October 25th at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

The patent involves means for building a user and community driven secure social network, flexible privacy features for users in maintaining their online social network, and a means to refer users to one another via a referral network. In addition, the patent covers a social networking technology that is driven by user privacy features – fundamental to all successful social networking services today. Now that all sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?

Other features are (quote from Forbes) ‘Among the many social network features disclosed and claimed in the patent and pending application are: fundamental technology used to develop and maintain an online social network; creating an online social network including individual users and groups; searching a social network to identify users and groups for keywords and then identifying a chain of contacts leading to the targeted user or group; flexibility in granting user defined privacy rights and access levels to control availability of user’s personal information and contacts with respect to others in user’s personal and extended network; process of anonymous referral networking using a link by link request forwarding system; and accessing and using social network via the Internet or wireless devices.

Now, Facebook, MySpace and Bebo all use these types of functions as fundamental parts of their services. I’m confused as to why the owner of this patent hasn’t tried taking legal action in the past. The only reason I can see for selling this is to try to make money from someone who may use it either in a lawsuit or to sell it to an existing network. Although if it hasn’t been used up to now then I’m a bit sceptical as to its value. Will be interesting to see what it goes for!

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