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more on AOL's IM patent

Charles comments on the AOL IM patent. Among other things, he says:

Before you scoff about patenting the obvious, try to remember back to just how revolutionary ICQ was, and how quickly everyone flocked to it. ICQ introduced the idea that presence would work over the Internet, not just on closed-gate BBSs and online services. People flocked to ICQ in their millions, almost from the moment it was released, because at the time there was nothing like it, and nobody was attempting anything like it.
I disagree. While it is true that before ICQ no one had used the concept of network presence in quite that way before, the patent is more broad, refering to the idea of "monitoring a network and establishing a connection to a certain user". Distributed computing and P2P research have a long history and, while they did fail to create widely deployed applications, the idea of monitoring the network to connect to a peer has been around for a while. For example, any distributed database with failover must have monitoring and automatic connection built-in to detect when peers come back online. Going to something simpler (and maybe a bit too simple, but I can't resist), the combination of who and talk in UNIX essentially gives you ICQ. Sure, you have to write a script to "connect" both applications into one. But are a couple of lines of bash2 worth a patent? I don't think so.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on December 19 2002 at 1:46 AM

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