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October 28, 2005


Alex Macfie

You wrote...."a British firm recently tried to patent hyperlinks (I believe that one was rejected by a court)"

If you mean British Telecom's patent claim on hyperlinks, then you're not exactly right. What happened was... Some time in 1999 or 2000 (not really "recent" in internet terms), BT discovered it had an old US patent (dating from the mid-1970s) on hyperlinks, and decided it would enforce it against ISPs in the US. BT finally had its day in court in 2002, and lost decisively. Not because the patent was invalid, but because it was found not to cover the internet. BT's patent describes a hub-and-spokes type network with interlinked documents stored on the hub, which is quite obviously not how the internet works. See http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/courtweb/pdf/D02NYSC/02-07733.PDF for the judgement against BT.


I saw that you have a page that discusses patent-related resources at http://riskman.typepad.com/perilocity/2005/10/a_patent_for_tr.html. I wanted to suggest adding www.freepatentsonline.com to the page. This web site has free PDF downloading (instead of having to page through TIFFs like at the US PTO). It is by far the best free patent searching site.

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