Friendster has patented social networks

    At one time, Friendster was one of the first social networks on the Internet, and then one of the most popular. Despite the fact that among the registered participants there are still 9-10 million people (mainly from Asia), now it is significantly inferior to such giants as MySpace and Facebook . Losing them in popularity, Friendster has every chance of winning back on another front: the legal one.

    Patent No. 7,069,308 describes “a system, method and apparatus for connecting users to an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks”. “We will do everything we can to protect our intellectual property,” saidKent Lindstrom, President of Friendster.

    Friendster - a pioneer of social networks - is currently going through hard times. The main outflow of users occurred at the end of 2004 and during 2005, when serious technical problems started on the site. For some reason, they went on for almost a whole year. Even an additional investment of $ 15 million did not help return users tormented by the long wait for page loading.

    After the owners of the company witnessed a high-profile deal involving MySpace, they put up their company for sale in October 2005. However, the buyer has not been found so far. Friendster almost went bankrupt in February 2006, but another investor appeared who paid the company's debts and gave money for staff salaries (a little less than 30 people).

    Friendster has never been a profitable business, but now the company's revenue is growing. The profit comes from advertising in the United States and from the sale of SMS services in Asia. A new patent may add licensing fees to the list of sources of profit.

    The patent describes the main stages of involving a user in a social network: entering personal information and indicating relationships with other users; building a map of relationships and “degrees of distance”; mechanism for connecting users through their mutual friends. According to the director of the company, investors from Kleiner Perkins asked for a patent application in 2003. And this is only one of a dozen patents filed by the company. Another 11 patent applications are pending.

    Interestingly, Friendster's patent is not the only patent in this area. So, back in 2001, Six Degrees of Separation (another failed startup in the field of social networks) received such a patent. By the way, it is cited in Friendster's patent, so the patent service did not find them identical.

    Six Degrees of Separation was bought at an auction in 2003 by the founders of LinkedIn and . Thus, LinkedIn has something to answer for possible claims from Friendster.

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