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Facebook Obtains News Feed Patent

On February 23, 2010, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) issued United States Patent 7,669,123 (the “123 Patent”), entitled “Dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network”, to Facebook, Inc., filed August 11, 2006 and claiming priority from various applications filed as early as December 13, 2005. The patent has 3 independent claims for a method, system and computer readable medium having embodied thereon a program. At its most basic, the claimed method steps are:

  • monitoring activities in a social network environment;
  • storing the activities in a database;
  • generating news items regarding the activities for presentation to viewing users and relating to an activity that was performed by another user;
  • attaching a link associated with the activities of another user to the news items where the link enables a viewing user to participate in the same activity as the other user;
  • limiting access to the news items to a set of viewing users; and
  • displaying a news feed comprising two or more of the news items to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewing users.

As noted in the patent specification, and as noted by other authors, the patent essentially relates to filterable “mini-feeds” – which are now ubiquitous in social media, and could apply to the many common social networking services, including some offered by Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, Yahoo Mail, and Windows Live. As such, Facebook could potentially choose to pursue action against such social-media sites that potentially violate this patent.

To search for the ‘123 Patent at the USPTO, visit:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm

For additional commentary, visit:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10460150-36.html

http://tinyurl.com/yhlrn5v