The United States Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to give Amazon a patent for a “new” social networking system. I put “new” in quotes because the Patent doesn’t appear to allude to anything that isn’t already being done by the likes of Facebook, Myspace and various other social networking websites.
According to the Patent filing:
“A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts.”
TechFlash says the patent was created by Brian Robertson and Warren Adams, the two men who sold PlanetAll to Amazon in 1998, a social networking platform which was later ditched by Amazon in 2000. Amazon sent the patent to the U.S. Patent office in May 2008.
This isn’t the first time a “social networking” patent has been filed, Friendster filed for “social networking” four years ago, they described their approach as a “system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks.”
Facebook has also patended “newsfeed” while many other social networking patents have been filed over the years but rarely enforced in any manner.
In the meantime, no one really seems to own “social networking” or at least no site is willing to face the likes of the multi-billion dollar Facebook in court.
So what do you think? Personally I don’t believe someone can “own” the rights to social networking, after all before it was online we were all networking with one another, however the social aspect was either offline or through instant messages and email.
In any case it would be cool to say I owned “Social Networking” perhaps I’ll file a patent of my own.