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Facebook Patent on News Feed Is Granted
engine




msg:4087699
 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.

 

StoutFiles




msg:4087752
 11:47 am on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

How do sites get patents on things so general as "displaying a news feed in a social network environment."?

I might as well go get a patent on "displaying a comments section after web content" before someone else does.

incrediBILL




msg:4087814
 1:47 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

That'll never hold up because Yahoo displayed news feeds on their portal, arguably a social network because every news item used to have a comments section, long before Facebook existed.

For that matter, AOL, arguably the original social network existing pre-internet, displayed news in a social network.

StoutFiles




msg:4087827
 2:07 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

How are patents even decided? Is there a committee of people or is it just one person that reviews the patent? Are they experienced on the topic? Are they completely neutral and not able to be bribed?

It just seems like certain patents are so general and unfair that it's anyone's guess how they're even approved. They just used their users data, gave it a fancy name, and called it original. The only reason they applied for the patent is the hopes that they destroy competing sites from having a "news feed".

I'll show Facebook...I'll go get a patent on "collecting user data in a social network environment".

danielro




msg:4087844
 2:39 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think there's more to the patent then just the title.

bwakkie




msg:4087865
 3:21 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

" Is there a committee of people "

PEOPLE?

Demaestro




msg:4087868
 3:28 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I HATE techno patents like this. They make no sense.

To me this looks like Facebook is trying another revenue stream out. Patent trolling is very profitable if you can get away with it.

I wonder where they will start.... by trying to "license" the patent to sites already doing this or will they go straight to court and try to extort money from people that way?

Imagine if someone patented "A digital photo gallery that displays user uploaded photos in a photo gallery styled view"

edacsac




msg:4087869
 3:33 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

******Edit, read the article

So it's really about about the alerts, where a is friends with b kinda thing, not a generic news feed. Good for them! It gives facebook an edge of distinction maybe, so every other social platform cannot copy that same update environment. I think it was smart of them to apply, and good they where awarded. The feed thing is very distinctive to facebook. Very smart business decision.

Demaestro




msg:4087874
 3:46 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items. The method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed.


Reading this they include in the patent a method to dynamically limit the the number of news items displayed. So what they invented a dynamic LIMIT function? Plus the whole thing about attaching a link to the activity being reported, how is that new? It is a link in a feed.

This really wreaks. I feel bad for linkedin.

loudspeaker




msg:4087943
 5:37 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think the whole system needs to be reformed. This means well-capitalized companies can afford to patent every common-sense feature any programmer can come up with.

There's absolutely NOTHING original here. Feed? Done before. Shown only to the "right" people? Duh, of course you're going to show the update only to the person who might be interested. Yes, that will involve running a simple algorithm - like, checking if these people are friends. This is all trivial and simple common sense.

This is absurd and needs to be stopped if the Internet is to evolve.

hasimsg




msg:4087948
 5:46 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sometimes, this whole (general and common) patent things really make me sick.

I've even seen a traditional recipe in my country got patented by a company in other country. Duh...

Gomvents




msg:4087973
 6:31 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't understand most internet tech patents. I think for the most part copyright law protects you from someone copying you wholesale and in terms of things that look of function similar... as long as you call them different names you should be fine. This is BS that they can patent their news feed! As other have pointed out Yahoo / AOL have done (and still do) VERY similar things.

IanKelley




msg:4088073
 9:01 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

So it's really about about the alerts, where a is friends with b kinda thing


There's absolutely NOTHING original here.


Agreed. The US patent office grants patents for most absurdly common sense ideas as long as it's computer tech, and involves an "algorithm", which they apparently don't understand.

The trend seems to be getting worse, hopefully someone wakes up before it really starts to stifle innovation and competition.

This patent is a perfect example of that. It's a very basic, obvious, thing that now no other (US?) social network can do, and therefore they can't give their users the features they will have come to expect.

Sierra_Dad




msg:4088128
 11:18 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

This patent is a perfect example of that. It's a very basic, obvious, thing that now no other (US?) social network can do, and therefore they can't give their users the features they will have come to expect.


As bad as this is, though, it is only half the battle.

Having a patent granted has no guarantee that you would be able to exclude someone. The strength of the patent will be tested only when (and if) FaceBook sues someone else.

A good defense lawyer will attempt to invalidate the patent by showing prior art from you or someone else prior to August 2006.

Note - I am not a patent lawyer - nor do I play one on TV, but I have known some.

In the meantime, don't mention in internal memos that you *might* be in violation of Facebooks patent. They'll get subpoenaed.

ChanandlerBong




msg:4088140
 11:32 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

it's often said that the current internet is like the wild west of the 19th century, still a whole lot of chaos waiting for order to arrive and that the internet of 2025 will be unrecognisable.

now imagine if Gunbarrel, New Mexico patented "a method of traveling from Gunbarrel to Tumbleweed, Arizona using 2 parallel rails, bolted onto a series of wooden planks."

would have done wonders to western expansion, wouldn't it?

TheMadScientist




msg:4088184
 1:05 am on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

The US patent office grants patents for most absurdly common sense ideas as long as it's computer tech, and involves an "algorithm", which they apparently don't understand... It's a very basic, obvious, thing that now no other (US?) social network can do, and therefore they can't give their users the features they will have come to expect.

Or there is a real invention on the news page most people don't notice and who you see the 'news' posts from is algorithmically determined based on which friends stories are determined to be most important to you.

Live Feed automatically determines which friends to include based on who Facebook thinks you want to hear from most. You can manually adjust this list below.

Go to the bottom of your FaceBook [facebook.com] home page and click 'edit options' across from 'older posts' to find the source of the quote.

IMO There's a bunch more going on at FB than most people realize and IMO the patent is not about a simple news feed scrolling down the page, which is simple, easy and knowing how to do it is common knowledge among programmers. (If I remember correctly an idea is not patentable if it's based on common knowledge. It's not an invention if everyone (or a large group) knows how to do it...)

claus




msg:4088194
 1:15 am on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is a perfect illustration of how ridiculous the US patent system is, and why the US patent model is not used (or respected) outside the US. Nor should it be, either. The world would never evolve if that system was more widespread.

TheMadScientist




msg:4088196
 1:21 am on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's not a patent on a basic scrolling news feed...
FaceBook does not use a basic scrolling news feed.

I think we were posting at the same time claus, because I kept editing.
See my previous post.

CainIV




msg:4088720
 3:32 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

More money grabbing. Really ridiculous.

JS_Harris




msg:4088763
 5:27 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

displaying a news feed in a social network environment


A patent on your posts, do you need any more incentive to open the window and get some fresh air instead of feeding the greed machine?

john_k




msg:4088903
 4:28 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is Claim 1 from the patent:
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.


See if you can guess what patent this claim is from:
A method for serving pizza in a community environment, the method comprising:
monitoring a plurality of phone lines at a restuarant;
recording requests for pizzas in a database or on paper;
telling the cook what toppings to put on each of the pizzas;
baking the pizzas;
placing the pizzas in boxes designed to prevent crushing, maintain warmth, and bear advertisements to encourage a plurality of repeated usage;
delivering the pizza to each caller's address by means of a vehicle.

TheMadScientist




msg:4088918
 5:14 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

To the best of my knowledge, to infringe on a patent someone must reuse an entire claim, which in this case includes:

Emphasis Mine
generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities [creating a news item(s) based on user activity] 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;

The FaceBook Patent [patft.uspto.gov]

IMO, Someone could do exactly what FaceBook does as long as they did not attach a link to a 'news item' allowing the person seeing the 'news' to participate in the activity of the 'news item'.

IMO, Someone could do exactly the same thing if they do not make user activity 'news'.

IMO, It's not a patent on a basic scrolling news feed and there are some very specific things someone would have to do to infringe on the patent. IMO, It's not at all analogous to taking a pizza order for delivery over the phone...

IanKelley




msg:4089344
 4:53 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

IMO, It's not at all analogous to taking a pizza order for delivery over the phone...


Sadly the pizza analogy wasn't too far off. From a programming perspective it's all extremely straightforward and obvious. Any programming team, given a similar dataset to work with, and asked to come up with a customized news feed for users of a social network, based on which friends they interact with most often, is going to come up with pretty much the same thing.

To be fair Facebook's team would do it more efficiently, with a more elegant end result, but that's not what they're patenting.

Hugene




msg:4089403
 6:36 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Like someone said here, all that is needed to invalidate some of the claims of this patent is to find some prior art: I am sure that will be doable. so the patent doesn't have much value in the long run.

In the short run, just remember the liberation that Amazon's "one click" patent was: even though it has now been invalidated, it was successfully used in the early days of the patent to destroy Amazon's competition.

If Facebook acts on this patent, I vow to close my account and mount an active anti-FB campaign on all my websites and on on any other public platform: like the all-encompassing email.

TheMadScientist




msg:4089404
 6:39 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

People are trying to make it sound as if they patented posting to a forum via a form. If it's such a simple solution for any programmer (or team) to come up with, then why was it 2008 before anyone did it like FaceBook did?

If it was commonplace and 'the answer any team of programmers would come up with' then why the Bleep! didn't anyone do it or think of it or do it the same way FaceBook did before 2008? Your argument is self defeating since they are the first to do it exactly the way they did, because what they are doing on their news feed is not on every social network on the Internet... If it was 'what any programmer would do' then it would have been all over the Internet years ago.

Probably half of my overall posts here on WebmasterWorld are in the PHP and Apache Forums and IMO it's not at all like pizza delivery. I have an idea what a coder would come up with and 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, but rather include a link some other way. It's simple for people who exercise creativity to workaround what they have patented, never mind whether the claim is enforceable or not.

As if I couldn't find a way to not attach a link to a news item... You have to attach a link to a news item if you're going to infringe on Claim 1 of the patent. IMO The biggest problem with the patent is people like to complain rather than just looking at the situation and finding another way, which means they would probably copy the look and feel as well as the function if they could... Just Plain Lazy.

StoutFiles




msg:4089421
 7:07 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

The biggest problem with the patent is people like to complain rather than just looking at the situation and finding another way, which means they would probably copy the look and feel as well as the function if they could... Just Plain Lazy.


The biggest problem with the patent is that it kills the growth of the internet. If this works and Facebook can stop companies from having an idea similar to theirs, then suddenly every large company is going to start filing patents for general ideas.

edacsac




msg:4089450
 8:00 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been building similar functionality into some of my web sites and some customer sites for years, long before I've ever tried facebook. Not for the same reasons, but the code is in place and I can steer it anyway I like, including the way facebook does it.

It's not so much some genius idea as it is good relational data management.

If it's really as general as a scrolling news feed, with links to participate in news item and admit certain users or groups access, then it's not going to hold up. Even the most popular CMS's do this and have been for years. Internal business intranets do this to an even greater degree.

The first time I visited facebook I realized this. It took 10 years or better for someone to take the same old code and actually market it in a way that the masses jump on.

Now I have to go read some patent claim to completely understand. If they patented data management 101, then I give up.

seoul




msg:4089545
 10:38 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Only EU (European Union) can save us from this horrible future. They've forced microsoft to break the browser monopoly, i wish they'll force facebook also. I think very soon facebook will patent the comment system in "US patent office". Then this site, yahoo answer, twitter everything will be shut down. Only facebook will be used for social networking. Ha ha ha.

Can someone explain me, How can a company patent such a general idea of "showing quality content to user" ? News feed is nothing but a way to show contents to the user that he/she may find useful. Did they patent the algorithm to find such content or they patented this idea ?

TheMadScientist




msg:4089549
 10:45 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

The patent is on the method they use to generate the News Feed and there are specific things someone would have to do to infringe on it if it's even enforceable, and I'm tired of repeating myself, so I'll just give it up to everyone who thinks it's a horrible thing...

You're right, the growth of the Internet is dead because the precedent may have been set to make it so you can't copy someone else's method of doing things and have to think of a different idea someone is not already using or a different method of doing what they are if you want to copy it.

No one will ever be able to build a basic News Feed again and those already existing will have to be shut down because of this patent, right?

StoutFiles




msg:4089571
 11:47 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

You're right, the growth of the Internet is dead because the precedent may have been set to make it so you can't copy someone else's method of doing things and have to think of a different idea someone is not already using or a different method of doing what they are if you want to copy it.


Directly copying is one thing. Witnessing something and then building it myself is completely different...it's not going to come out exactly the same. And because this is web related, it's not like the important server-side code is even copyable. I'm surprised CSS designs aren't being copyrighted since it IS copyable and is more original then the news feed.

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." You'd be ok with this? I'm just saying that the patent could lead to more dumb patents and more restrictions on what people can do.

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >
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