San Diego – Six years may seem like a long time to wait for the award of a patent. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg patiently waited for approval on an application governing certain privacy settings for six long years. There was definitely cause for celebration by Zucks when it was announced last week that he had been granted his first patent. Patent number 8,225,376 is listed as “a system and method for dynamically generating privacy summary” and was awarded to inventors Zuckerberg and Facebook’s former Chief of Privacy Officer, Chris Kelly.
In layman’s terms, the patent was designed to create a display for a person’s profile on Facebook. The profile is affected by certain privacy settings that are chosen by the user, displayed to the user, and are viewable by other people using the same social networking website. Essentially, the technology would let Facebook users customize the way their profile appears to other users. The patent was originally rejected by the USPTO because examiners thought it was too obvious. However, when Facebook went public, Zuckerberg’s team redoubled their efforts and pushed the patent through. And after numerous interviews with the Examiner the USPTO finally granted the patent.
Even to the most basic of computer networking users, the patent seems awfully simplistic. Some experts are going as far as to say that it is no more than a fancy accessory. But these days it seems that the larger the patent portfolio the better. Last month Facebook bought hundreds of patents from IBM and Microsoft to provide a better defense against the threat of ongoing litigation, including its lawsuit against Yahoo. The Yahoo lawsuit was later settled, but the patents should serve the company well into the future.