Feeds

BT mulls adverse ruling over hyperlink patent

Decisions, decisions

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.