AOL Patents Instant Messaging
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  1. #1
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    AOL Patents Instant Messaging

    Some peole might be saying goodbye to Yahoo! and MSN Messenger, eh?

    Cite: http://www.msnbc.com/news/848770.asp?0dm=C14KT&cp1=1


    “THE CLAIM is it’s a system where you have a network; you have a way to monitor who’s on the network; and if you want to talk to them you hook them up,” said Gregory Aharonian, publisher of Internet Patent News Service, a newsletter that’s critical of technology patents. “If you’re doing something like that, you’re potentially infringing.”
    The breadth of this definition could create controversy in the industry. AOL’s primary competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo, have their own instant messaging services, each with millions of users. With the patent, AOL could technically sue rival instant messaging services for infringement backed by the argument spelled out in the patent.
    AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein declined to comment on the company’s future plans involving the patent. Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako also declined to comment on the patent. Microsoft did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

    IM’S ROOTS
    The patent is significant because it grants rights to one of the most popular applications on the Internet. Instant messaging services allow people on the same network to exchange text messages with one another in real time. Major Internet companies, notably AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo, have their own proprietary instant messaging networks that have amassed millions of customers. AOL’s two products, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ, are the two most popular networks with 180 million registered users and 135 million registered users, according to AOL.
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    AOL acquired ICQ’s parent company, Mirabilis, in 1998 for $287 million in cash. ICQ generated no revenue, but it had a registered subscriber base of 11 million to 12 million customers, with a large percentage of users based outside the United States. Although both AIM and ICQ are divisions of AOL, they never communicated with each other until October of this year.
    Instant messaging has been a point of contention between AOL and Microsoft in particular.
    (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)
    When Microsoft launched its MSN Messenger in 1999, its subscribers were able to communicate with AIM users, causing AOL to block access and set off a game of cat and mouse. MSN eventually backed off, but AOL’s protective behavior set the stage for a more unsightly brawl in the near future.
    When AOL’s proposed merger with Time Warner was under review with federal regulators, Microsoft clamored for AOL to open its instant messaging networks as a condition to approval. Eventually, the Federal Communications Commission placed limitations on AIM as part of its merger approval, requiring AOL to open its network when offering “advanced” IM products.

    GROUNDS FOR LITIGATION?
    With the new patent, AOL could legitimately ask a court of law for protection against other services emulating it.
    That’s not to say AOL has any plans to file lawsuits anytime soon, however. Technology companies file patents regularly and use them more as a defensive measure in the event a competitor litigates for other infringement claims.
    Still, lawsuits involving technology patents occur over many groundbreaking advancements.
    The patent granted to ICQ beefs up AOL’s legal arsenal. The online giant has other patents involving central software features used industrywide, including its Netscape Communications subsidiary’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, which secures e-commerce transactions over the Internet. Netscape also has a patent on Web browser cookies, which allows site operators to gather information about visitors.
    To date, AOL has not sued anyone for violating its SSL or cookie patents.
    The biggest question that remains is whether AOL has a valid argument to stand on should it decide to raise the issue in a court of law. These arguments will be put to test if a lawsuit ever comes to bear.
    “Litigation remains the best test of a patent’s applicability, validity and enforceability,” said Alan Fisch, an intellectual property attorney at Howrey Simon Arnold & White.

  2. #2
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    With all the lawsuits countering Microsoft OS.s Browser ect... makes you think this might be a move more towards MS than Yahoo. AOL might be trying to move in MS on a series of steps and this might be just one of them.

  3. #3
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    Well the only thing I can say is that unless AOL has bought the rights to Unix Talk (been around since the 80s) that their thing infringes upon public domain software. Mind you they bought ICQ did not invent it this was based on Unix Talk, as was PowWow only who ever bought them let PowWow die. Matter of fact itr was PowWow that brought about web surfing with a buddie was done in 1996 yet to hear M$ talk they invented it. Guess the thing is that public domain software was hyjacked in mass by corps and they re-indroduce it like they invented it. IM patients would be like saying only Edison had the right to mfg a phonograph, fact is he did hold a patient and let others do more with it then he did, most of it in Europe to him was just a thing on the shelf. Then again Amazon did not invent one click but holds the right. Just a corp stab to make a buck they all are hurting and no matter what they do as soon as they get the rights someone else will find another way to do it and hopefully not sell it off to such jerks.
    I believe that one of the characteristics of the human race - possibly the one that is primarily responsible for its course of evolution - is that it has grown by creatively responding to failure.- Glen Seaborg

  4. #4
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    Re: AOL Patents Instant Messaging

    Originally posted here by Jehnny
    Some peole might be saying goodbye to Yahoo! and MSN Messenger, eh?

    Cite: http://www.msnbc.com/news/848770.asp?0dm=C14KT&cp1=1


    “THE CLAIM is it’s a system where you have a network; you have a way to monitor who’s on the network; and if you want to talk to them you hook them up,” said Gregory Aharonian, publisher of Internet Patent News Service, a newsletter that’s critical of technology patents. “If you’re doing something like that, you’re potentially infringing.”
    ...(skip to the bottom of original text now)...
    “Litigation remains the best test of a patent’s applicability, validity and enforceability,” said Alan Fisch, an intellectual property attorney at Howrey Simon Arnold & White.
    ***********
    It seems to me that depending on how liberal the court definition turns out, (or what the main players agree on to stay out of court...) it may also spell the end of "chat-rooms" on private domains. For instance, i web a couple of domains used by their owners to "chat" with each other from wherever they might be, on their own domains. Also there are some commercial versions that can be used also. The screens used by the messaging participants may be a tad different in design from what the big-boys "instant messaging" popups, however the back-and-forth text in realtime is the same, as is the ability to control who is in your chat room. SO is this going to turn out like the old "shotgun" claim by the infamous SLC company that anyone's website using their patented compression technology to produce ".gif" images owes them five-grand up front? Seems this "instant messaging" thing could reach a lot deeper than it appears on the surface, affecting all of us instead of just the big guys. Problem is, you never know exactly how the definitions will be interpreted until the crows sing.

  5. #5
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    ummm, IRC anyone?

    how about a huge legal battle about OS's and who made the first one that was copyrighted/patented and therefore can sue anyone that has ever made an OS because it "emulates" them.

    How about FPS games, or ANY game for that matter, because other people emulate them... just look at the rise of fighting games due to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat in the arcades duking it out.

    This could set a very bad precident if it gets persued, and I'm sure the AOL folks are aware of that. The people who made Gopher and Veronica could sue the pants of off AOL themselves because that's where AOL "started".

    /shrug



    El Diablo

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