Facebook has been awarded a patent on displaying news feeds of users' activities, creating an interwebs stir that basic social network functionality could soon fall prey to Facebook IP rights.
The US patent - awarded February 23 - pertains to "dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network". For example: "Susie has added a photo to her gallery" or "Johnny joined the Dolphin Sea Mammal Lovers Anonymous Group".
If that sounds familiar (the patent, not the group), it's only because user action updates are brass tacks to most social network sites.
Facebook applied for the patent on August 11 2006, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg topping the list of its inventors.
No doubt social websites like MySpace, Flickr, and LinkedIn are whipping their legal dogs into sniffing a way around the patent. Given the basic nature of the claim, it wouldn't be surprising to see some prior art surface.
Facebook isn't saying whether it has any plans to enforce the patent. In a statement, the company said its launch of a news feed in 2006 was a "pivotal moment in Facebook's history and changed the way millions of people consumed and discovered information on the site".
"We're humbled by the growth and adoption of News Feed over time and pleased with being awarded the patent," the statement said. ®