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Re: lynx-dev Patent on Hyperlinks

From: Kim DeVaughn
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Patent on Hyperlinks
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 04:44:22 -0600

I guess this is as good a time as any to let y'all know that I'm back
on lynx-dev.  I've been busy with "things that help pay the rent", and
then had some problems with my ISP and my email, but those *should* be
all fixed-up now ... mostly, anyway.  Now I just need to get caught up
with what's been going on WRT lynx ... I'm still running 2.8.3-dev.17
... :-) ...

As may be ...

On Sat, Jun 24, 2000, David Woolley (address@hidden) said:
| According to recent press articles, British Telecom have just discovered
| that they have a US patent on hyperlinks and are intending to try to
| get royalties from US ISPs.
| I don't know the scope of the patent, but if it covers browsers, and they
| choose to demand royalties on, even just commercial, use in browsers,
| the Lynx licence to re-distribute would become void (GPL clause 7).

As it happens, just tonight I came across a fairly lively discussion about
this in the  gnu.misc.discuss  newsgroup, the initial posting of which,
I'll append below.

Personally, I don't expect much to actually come out of it ... I recall
reading about the *concept* of hyperlinks in one or two "future direct-
ions in computing" type books, thus making them "prior art".

Even without that, *concepts* are not supposed to be patentable ... only
specific implementations (scam artists who claim to hold the patent on all
blinking cursor implementations that use the XOR function, notwithstanding).

Just sumthin' to keep lawyers in business, methinks ...!


initial  gnu.misc.discuss  article:

>From: address@hidden (Jay Maynard)
>Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss,
>Subject: British Telecom patents hyperlinking
>Date: 19 Jun 2000 17:21:24 GMT
>Message-ID: <address@hidden>
>Organization: Neosoft (using!)
>In a news story today, Briish Telecom is said to have hired a company to
>enforce a patent (US 4,873,662) it claims covers hyperlinking on the Web:
> [patent number corrected; original posting had the 7 and the 3 swapped]
>RPT: BT to seek to exercise hyperlink patent in U.S. through Scipher
>19/06/2000 13:26:41
>LONDON (AFX) - British Telecommunications PLC has employed Scipher PLC to
>exercise a historic patent on hyperlinks, the technology whereby internet
>sites cross-link to each other, to U.S. internet service providers, Scipher
>said today.
>Dr Ken Gray, chairman of Scipher, said that BT claims to have patented the
>hyperlink technology in doing their work on information retieval systems,
>which is used extensively throughout the navigation of the World Wide Web.
>He said the patent predates the HTML standard that currently exists.
>"On behalf of BT we are attempting to licence (hyperlink technology), and
>inviting licences to be taken out by ISPs in the States," Gray said.
>"We will be inviting ISP's in the U.S. to licence that technology from us."
>Well, now that we have a software patent that, were it to be successful,
>would have the potential to destroy the Internet - or at least the WWW - as
>we know it. Is that a Good Thing?
>One interesting note: The patent was issued on 10 October 1989, 9 years
>after the filing date, and more than 13 years after the "priority number"
>date of 20 July 1976. What gives here? Which date is the one before which
>prior art must be demonstrated to be effective? When does the patent's 17
>(or 20?) years start? Is the patent in reality effective for 26 (29?) years,
>by preventing infringing uses before the issuance date?

"Lawyers!  What a miserable waste of brain cells."  --Capt. Harry Lipschitz

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