Friendster wins a patent

The last two years have been rough for early social-networking leader Friendster as it struggled to upgrade its technology, watched upstarts like MySpace zoom past it, and nearly ran out of cash. But yesterday, Red Herring reported that the San Francisco-based company had been awarded a patent covering some parts of online social networking. The patent "would seem to cover the activities of many other sites," writes the Herring, "especially those like LinkedIn that allow people to connect within a certain number of degrees of separation."

While the patent history of social networking is anything but simple, dating back to early filings by boom-era companies like Six Degrees, Friendster's new asset may prove useful in the ongoing social networking wars. In theory, Friendster could try to seek licensing fees from rivals, or sue them for patent infringement. Backed by Silicon Valley venture powerhouse Kleiner Perkins, which recently doubled down on its investment, Friendster is not likely to fade gently from the scene. Consider this one more potential headache for Mr. Murdoch's overworked lawyers at MySpace. Suing rivals for patent infringement is no way to make friends -- but it is a way to make money.
Posted by Oliver Ryan 8:58 AM 0 Comments comment | Add a Comment

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