If you haven't picked up on this already, life for the modern corporate giant involves a whole lot of time creating, buying, defending, and suing the pants off people over patents. In Microsoft's case, they've been on a bit of a bad streak lately, with folks successfully suing them left and right over patent infringements. But this latest effort by the Bellevue techies might just put the intellectual rights ball back in their court.
The target: owning a patent on "liking" things online (or, as it's better known now, "becoming a fan"). A filing made public today has the details.
As on Facebook, when you want to "become a fan" of, let's say, Justin Bieber, you click "become a fan," and then you get updates every time Justin writes a song or grows a pube. Justin can't see your profile, however, as the relationship only goes one way.
It's these "One-Way Public Relationships" that Microsoft wants to own. And not just on Facebook, but everywhere (which, really, is indeed mainly on Facebook).
The Microsoft/Facebook connection is actually an important point in this case. Microsoft owns a minority share in Facebook, though the social-networking site is mentioned nowhere in the current patent filings.
As Techflash today points out, getting this patent is likely to be pretty tough, considering that Facebook has had its "like" button since 2007 and Microsoft is trying to patent now what's essentially the same thing .
But in the wild, wacky, wide-open world of patent law, it's often the first person to plant a flag in court on something who gets the rights.