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Friendster Patents Social Networks

Struggling website Friendster recently managed to patent a general form of online social networking. The patent, which Friendster initially filed when the site still had a respectable following three years ago, covers an online system for connecting people socially. The patent’s background section is actually an interesting read, dropping references to everything from Stanley Milgram’s small world theory to Match.com to general (and pretty funny) statements about dating. However, the patent itself is somewhat vague on exactly what it covers. The patent could be describing a number of networking sites currently online. It will be interesting to see if Friendster will start filing lawsuits or just focus on getting back in the game. Kent Lindstrom, the company’s president, told Red Herring that they nearly forgotten about the patent until they heard the news. This could be an interesting wake-up call for sites such as Tagged and LinkedIn. I don’t think Friendster’s patent applies to MySpace because of the way that site is structured, but whenever avatars are involved, reality can get a bit fuzzy.

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