Feeds

BT mulls adverse ruling over hyperlink patent

Decisions, decisions

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

BT's legal battle with US ISP Prodigy over the telco's claim that it owns the patent to hyperlinks received a knock yesterday, following an initial ruling by a US Federal Court.

According to reports, Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that the patent - filed in 1976 and granted in 1989 - might not actually cover what we know today as "hyperlinks".

A spokesman for BT said that its lawyers were currently looking over the complex and lengthy document and were unlikely to comment on the case until next week.

Reuters claims that Prodigy is considering a motion to get the case dismissed.

Of course, it's still too early to say what will happen between now and September, when the case is due to be heard in full.

It all depends on whether BT has the appetite for a legal battle that could end in humiliating defeat.

But even if it does win the case the telco might not prove to be a popular winner. The damage caused by an unpopular ruling may be more costly to its reputation than any royalties it manages to extract from US ISPs.

And with a new senior management team leading BT who weren't around in 2000, when the company first said it would pursue the claim, it's possible that the telco might just decide to cut its losses and walk away.

Hidden Page

In June 2000 BT said that it owned the patent to hyperlinks and wanted ISPs in the US to cough up cash for the privilege of using them.

It pointed to patent 4,873,662 which refers to its "Hidden Page" technology.

The patent reads: "Information for display at a terminal apparatus of a computer is stored in blocks the first part of which contains the information which is actually displayed at the terminal and the second part of which contains information relating to the display and which may be used to influence the display at the time or in response to a keyboard entry signal.

"For example, the second part of the block could include information for providing the complete address of an another block which would be selected by the operation of a selected key of the keyboard. The second part of the block could alternatively influence the format and/or color of the display at the terminal.

"When a block is read from the store of the computer the second part is retained in another store which may be located in the terminal or in the computer itself or perhaps both. The invention is particularly useful in reducing the complexity of the operating protocol of the computer."

Despite much criticism and - from some quarters - derision, BT pursued its claim and in December 2000 filed a case against Prodigy in New York State.

Prodigy said the case was "blatant and shameless". ®

Related Stories

Prodigy to fight BT's 'shameless' hyperlinks patent lawsuit
BT launches US hyperlinks legal action
BT considers legal action over hyperlink patent
BT pensioner coughs up to hyperlink invention
BT claims ownership of hyperlinks

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.