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Facebook Patent on News Feed Is Granted
engine

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 9:36 am on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Facebook Patent on News Feed Is Granted [readwriteweb.com]
Facebook has been granted a patent on the Newsfeed, "displaying a news feed in a social network environment." Nick O'Neill at AllFacebook found the patent first and says it could be "one of the most significant social web patents" in a decade.

If all algorithmic ranking and delivery of social activity updates to social network users falls under this patent Facebook applied for in August 2006 (one month before it launched its controversial Newsfeed) then there's going to be a whole lot of trouble for sites all over the web.

 

TheMadScientist

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Msg#: 4087697 posted 1:31 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

it's not going to come out exactly the same.

Then AFAIK it's not infringement and there's no restriction on you doing it. I haven't looked at the patent in a bit, but at least one of the claims explicitly states the use of a drop down menu. If you go look at the USPTO website and read a bit about patent law, AFAIK to infringe on a patent you have to completely copy one of the claims.

The preceding IMO means NOT doing what FaceBook does could be as simple as NOT algorithmically determining which activities are news, but rather putting a check box and letting your users do it for you, or using a static menu rather than a drop down menu...

I'm surprised CSS designs aren't being copyrighted since it IS copyable and is more original then the news feed.

They are. You have an implicit copyright as soon as you create one, even if you don't file for it officially, but most people don't enforce their right to them... My guess is because they don't know they're being reused.

And, determining which stories (activities) from which friends to show people based on what your system determines to be most the important stories (activities) of your friends and which friends to show you the stories from isn't original?

We might have the same 20 people on our friends list and you might see 'news' from 10 people and I might see 'news' from the other 10 or we might see a mix of the same 'news' and different 'news'.

FaceBook's Patent is not, as far as I can tell, saying, 'We took users activities and turned them into news and we show everyone who is a friend of the person 'making the news' the activity they completed.' What's 'news' varies from user to user possibly even with two different people having the same friends list. So, one person's news (activities) might be displayed to you, while I might have to go read their wall to see what they're been doing even though they're on my friends list too.

I keep saying it's not a basic news feed, but it's like people don't seem to have a clue what the FB news feed actually does... IMO Before people think they've patented making ice, they should at least figure out what the News Feed they got the patent on does, shouldn't they?

Are you saying you'd be perfectly happy if one day a feature on your site was patented by a major company and then they contact you saying "Yeah...this is our idea now. Remove our idea from your site."

I'd laugh... If you're already doing it, and have been doing it or a large number of people are doing it, then AFAIK it's not patentable, because it's not an invention, and if it is patented, then (again AFAIK) the patent is not enforceable. It would be like trying to patent a basic forum now... You can't do it, because it's common knowledge and if you got it through, then AFAIK it would not be enforceable.

I think one of the huge issues people are having is they don't see everything going on within the news feed including how the 'news stories' are determined. You might not be shown every action ('news event') from a friend for every situation, while another person might see every 'news event' from the same common friend... AFAIK No One Else is Doing What FaceBook is to Compile and Deliver the News Feed.

I'm just saying that the patent could lead to more dumb patents and more restrictions on what people can do.

I can see your point if the News Feed wasn't original or if it was on what the person who wrote the article implied: A basic scrolling news feed. But, IMO the reality is the person writing the article did a great job with the headline and the lead-in.

IMO They created an interest and emotion and then worded the article as carefully as a Google Rep speaks and made it sound like one thing when it's really another. The author who got everyone stirred up did a great job as far as 'news' and getting people to read the story goes and he didn't even mis-report, but he did make great use of the word 'if' and some extremes...

Personally, I keep thinking: 'Wow, something on the Internet got patented and it wasn't by Yahoo!, Google or Microsoft... Cool!'

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney, don't play one on TV, and didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so DYODD.

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 2:05 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Personally I don't see it, but then again I'm pretty dumb. :)

The active term appears to be "news feed in social networks". Fortunately sites like WW (the forum) may contain news, might be a community of like minded (but is not a "social network") and should not be impacted by this patent as forums date back to the bbs daze (1980s) before there was an internet. FB seems to have the "news feed in social networks" in mind, not the specific content. "news feed" in their terms should not be confused with websites, forums, RSS or interactive news sites.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 2:13 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Actual Title of the Patent; Emphasis Mine:
Dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network

[patft.uspto.gov...]

The News here is not about the users and is available to everyone, so IMO it (and most sites) are not even close to infringement. The patent AFAIK is not even about displaying general news or limiting the display of general news to a set of viewers. It's about turning what someone does (plays a game, joins a group, adds a friend, etc.) into news and displaying it to a set of users.

Great article, snip-it and title writing, but as far as I can tell the actual patent is not about what it sounds like if you simply read the lead-in.

edacsac

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 5:19 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

You could interpret it as the facebook experience that they're trying to copyright in tangible terms. It's part of the facebook brand.

I don't know though. Lot's of power grabs going on.

seoul



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 6:20 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

The patent AFAIK is not even about displaying general news or limiting the display of general news to a set of viewers. It's about turning what someone does (plays a game, joins a group, adds a friend, etc.) into news and displaying it to a set of users.


That is the problem. This patent is preventing to provide update from contacts. For example, when any of my contacts change his address i get an update in my yahoo profile. When they use an application (like flickr integration to yahoo mail) i get an update.

If anyday I wish to build a networking site and provide this feature in that site but then this patient speaks. It says No, i can't do it. Providing update to others is strictly prohibited.

What a patent. Congratz facebook, we all see but you've own the official ownership to this intuition.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 5:44 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

If anyday I wish to build a networking site and provide this feature in that site but then this patient speaks. It says No, i can't do it. Providing update to others is strictly prohibited.

What it says is you cannot do it using exactly the same method FaceBook uses.
Have you read any of the possible work-arounds I've posted in this thread?

Also, I mistyped earlier and FaceBook has been serving their News Feed since 2006, not 2008.

Anyway, let's just wait and see if any major sites cancel or stop what they are doing, or if they find a solution rather than throwing their hands up and yelling, 'Not fair! We can't copy exactly what FaceBook is doing... The Internet is over!'

I guess maybe I'm forgetting this is the Internet and the mentality seems to be you should be able to do (copy) anything anyone else does without even thinking about it rather than having to think of your own ideas...

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 6:57 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

IMO the simplest workaround to Claim 1 of the patent allowing you to effectively do the same thing is to not attach the stinking link to the news item,


You are right but should one really have to refrain from attaching a link because that coupled with the rest of the functionality becomes an "invention"

You are right there are workarounds but why should one have to do a workaround? Somehow a link, coupled with a feed, coupled with some dynamic functionality concerning limits and friends is all of a sudden an invention?

That would mean a photo gallery could be an invention if you add in things like, "a link to more images" and "amount of images shown is dynamically limited"

All they are doing is adding certain behaviors to a news feed, an invention that does not make. They are just sensible features that any good developer would come up with if making a similar function.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 7:34 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

This post is my opinion only, so Do Your Own Due Diligence before use or saying I told you how to do this to make sure it's not something you could have any issues using, and no, you cannot patent one of the possible work-arounds I've posted because I'm providing the instruction on how to do it, so I would have to be the one filing the patent application and I don't have time today... LOL.

Claim 1 Emphasis Mine.
A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising:
monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment;
monitoring the plurality of activities in a database;
generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is for presentation to one or more viewing users and relates to an activity that was performed by another user;
attaching a link associated with at least one of the activities of another user to at least one of the plurality of news items where the link enables a viewing user to participate in the same activity as the another user;
limiting access to the plurality of news items to a set of viewing users;
and displaying a news feed comprising two or more of the plurality of news items to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewing users.


You just can't do it exactly like they do, so here are some possible work-arounds to Claim 1:

1.) Do not attach the link to the News Item, but rather dynamically create the link and allow the user to attach it through the use of a check-box or other method of user entry, which may or may not include the use of a specific button or simply allowing the user to copy and paste the link into the text.

Options could include, but are not limited to: A check-box, a radio button, two submit buttons where one is marked 'link' and the other is marked 'don't link' or some other method providing a similar effect allowing user control.

(Possibly set to a default by the user in their control panel.)

2.) Attach a link which is not directly to the activity the News Item is about, but rather to a 'user-activity' overview page, area on a page, or similar, where the activities may or may not be sorted based on most recently used, most popular or some other sensible, usable order, or even displayed randomly or in an unsorted order.

The link attached does not directly allow participation in the activity, but rather allows the user to see the activities another user participates, or participated, in either regularly or irregularly and the link on the activities page or section of a page allows participation.

Any indirect method of linking should be considered as an alternative to directly linking to the activity.

3.) Do not dynamically generate news items, but rather allow users to designate an item as news at the time of publication, through the use of a check-box or other method of user entry, which may or may not include the use of a specific button, where one could be titled 'news' and another 'not news' or something providing a similar effect allowing user control.

Options could include, but are not limited to: A check-box, a radio button, two submit buttons where one is marked 'news' and the other is marked 'not news' or something to a similar effect.

* Do people seriously think the Internet is dead because sites may have to use two buttons and let their users determine what news should be published or linked to an activity rather than a site deciding for them? Users might even like the added control...

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 8:22 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

You could even go a step further and make 3 (or more) options either through 'submit' type buttons or radio, check-box, or other entry method and allow users to decide whom the news is published to. Also, you could or could not use a pre-populated list(s) set and managed by the user allowing them to decide which news to publish to which people.

Examples:
'News' 'Not-News' 'News to Specific People'
'Link' 'Don't Link' 'Link for Specific People'

Check Boxes Where a Default May or May Not Be User Controllable:
'News' 'Link' 'Specific People'

The default for publishing unless overridden by a user could be:
'Not-News' 'Don't Link' So, unless a box is checked by a user, either in their control setting or at the time of submission, the post would be considered not-news and un-linked, but if the user chooses to make it news and the user attaches a link or adds a link, then they would be adding it not the system.

Again, my opinion only, so make sure you find out for yourself what you can and cannot do legally prior to use, but these ideas are free to use if you can legally, so have fun and don't just copy FaceBook, do something different...

* Some of these ideas are probably questionable, and IMO the best is to not attach a link directly to the activity, but rather link to the page or section of a page containing 'activities' a user has participated in so you are not providing a direct link to participate in the same activity, but rather a link to a page or section of a page where another user can view one or more of the activities the user the 'news' is related to has participated in... AFAIK to infringe you must copy a claim completely, so a bit of creativity in how you do things seems to be useful.

nowa123



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 8:44 pm on Mar 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Prior art for the Facebook patent is being posted on the facebook talk wikipedia page. [bit.ly...]

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 1:30 am on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi nowa123,

Welcome to WebmasterWorld!
Nice first post!

Of course it doesn't really matter right now since they are down, not only down, but I'm being redirected to my ISPs search page, so there's got to be a DNS issue or something...

EDIT: Back up now... Only lasted about 5 mins, but was definitely down for a few minutes.

<added>
Many think the patent is clearly invalid since it appears to cover all News Feeds. That's not true. It only covers news feeds where a link is provided so that one user can participate in the "same activity" as another user.

From the link above posted above...
</added>

nowa123



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 11:52 am on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

TheMadScientist

Thanks for the Welcome.

For the record, I'm a patent agent specializing in software and business methods. If anyone has any questions about such, I'd be happy to respond.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 2:41 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Alright, I'll take you up on it... I've heard different versions of what happens if there is prior art, so: If there is prior art, is the patent 'NULL' meaning anyone can use the idea, or is there something else that happens, EG some sort of ownership transference to the actual inventor?

EDITED: Because I keep re-reading and trying to type what I mean specifically in some semblance of English, and also because I can. lol.

nowa123



 
Msg#: 4087697 posted 11:52 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

“What happens if prior art is found”


There are several options.

Invalidity opinion (ignore it)

When I worked for a major chemical company and a competitor’s US patent issued that we thought was invalid because of unconsidered prior art, we would get a “validity opinion” from an outside law firm. If that opinion agreed that the patent was invalid, we would ignore it.

Reexamination (protest it)

Another option is to request a “reexamination”. This can be done by anyone at any time. The requester sends in the prior art to the patent office and pays a fee for the reexamination. The patent office looks at the prior art and if they agree that is raises a substantial new question of validity, they then assign a new examiner to reexamine the claims of the patent. The applicant (patent owner) then negotiates with the examiner to either show that the claims are still valid, or to narrow the claims, or to even cancel all of the claims.

Declaratory Judgment (fight it)

A third option, if you think you are about to be sued by the patent owner, is to file for a “Declaratory Judgment”. This is where you challenge the patent in Federal Court.

Interference (take it over)

Finally, if a patent issues that you think you are the original inventor of, you can file an “interfering patent application” that claims the same invention. The patent office will then declare an interference, and both you and the original patent applicant will go through a process to determine who the rightful inventor is.

[edited by: engine at 3:40 pm (utc) on Mar 10, 2010]
[edit reason] See WebmasterWorld TOS [/edit]

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