WSJ has an article on the Friendster patent.
The San Francisco nonprofit is running a “patent-busting” campaign to combat patents that it sees as illegitimate. “I don’t think they’ve really come up with an innovation for finding people you know,” he says.
But Mr. Lindstrom argues that Friendster’s founder, Mr. Abrams, who left the company and is preparing to launch a startup called Socializr, invented something original. Two and a half years ago, you’d never heard of a social network,” he says. “Jonathan Abrams did something, and suddenly this new thing existed. Maybe it doesn’t seem new now, but it certainly did at the time.”
When I first heard the term “social network,” my thought was, “yeah, right, it’s just the new buzzword for virtual community.” And when I first heard about this Friendster patent, I thought, “They can’t patent that. Virtual communities have been around for decades — before there was a Web even.”
But after I read the patent and understood that what they were really claiming as intellectual property was the ability to link friends together so that friends might follow a path to other or new friends, I couldn’t think of a pre-Friendster virtual community that had such a feature. If there was one out there, I would like to know about, because I can’t remember it or never saw it.
I think this patent has a chance to stand up.