In a filing made public on January 6, 2011, Microsoft is seeking a patent for something it calls “One-Way Public Relationships” in social networks and other online properties.
That’s a slightly-depressing way of saying that Microsoft is trying to patent “liking” or becoming a “fan” of something online, probably on Facebook. Seriously, the name ‘One-Way Public Relationships’ sounds like a patent for ‘Total Stalker Dude’. And, on a side-note, doesn’t Microsoft have a sizable investment in Facebook?
The best part of the abstract tells the story of a humble man named Steve, who happens to be a U2 fan, and wants us all to know about it:
When Steve clicks on the “Add” button, a relation module operates to establish a social networking relationship between Steve and “U2″. In at least some embodiments, the control is operable by a single-click to establish a one-way public relationship between Steve and “U2″. For instance, a one-way public relationship may be established using accounts with the service provider corresponding to Steve and/or “U2″. Based on this relationship, Steve may be able to post on “U2′s” profile page, and obtain content and/or status updates related to “U2″ based on the one-way public relationship. The one-way public relationship may also be employed by the service provider to serve content and/or ads related to “U2″ to Steve’s account across various services. The one-way public relationship may further be employed by the service provider to push status updates for “U2″ to Steve’s account. A mutual friend relationship is not established between Steve and “U2″ in this instance. Accordingly, “U2″ is not provided reciprocal access to Steve’s social network and related information and is not added to Steve’s contacts.
Alas, the stalker patent doesn’t force U2 to reciprocate Steve’s love, and Microsoft will face an uphill climb in its quest for this patent.
What I’m really waiting for is a patent on ‘One-Way Public Malice’ in social networks and other online properties, lawyer-speak for what’s more commonly known as ‘hating’ something online. Actually, that’s not a bad idea . . . and I do know some good patent attorneys.