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DomainWire has announced that the USPTO has just issued a patent to GoDaddy that covers a method of announcing a domain name announcement on a social network. U.S. patent number 8,276,057. In my view, these patents are getting ridiculous. Uneducated approval of a patent will quickly hinder the technology market. The mobile development world is already seeing the impact of this…

The '057 patent basically claims a method of setting up a link to a social network account (with some general authentication) and then, after a delay period, publishing a link to a domain on the social network.

  1. A method, comprising:

A) receiving from a client computer communicatively coupled to a network, by one or more server computers communicatively coupled to said network:

i) one or more authentication credentials, for a registrant of a domain name, for accessing an account on a social networking website; and

ii) a delay period after which to publish, on a web page for said account, a domain name announcement comprising:

a) an announcement of a registration of said domain name; and

b) a hyperlink to a website resolving from said domain name; and

B) responsive to an expiration of said delay period:

i) authenticating to said account, by said one or more server computers and using said one or more authentication credentials, via a social networking application programming interface; and

ii) publishing, by said one or more server computers, said domain name announcement to said web page for said account via said social networking application programming interface.

The patent application was filed on September 17, 2009. Is there prior art that predates that 2009 filing date?

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Does prior art have to specifically involve prescheduling the publishing of a domain, or any kind of prescheduling content published to a social network? If the prior art does specifically need to involve publishing of domains, what prevents people from filing patents on each and every type of content that could theoretically be scheduled to publish on a social network? –  user1384 Sep 27 '12 at 16:08
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Ideally you'd want prior art references that cover pretty much all of the steps and sub-steps in the claim above. It doesn't have to be a single reference; the steps could be disclosed in a combination of, say, 3 - 5 references. –  kinkfisher Sep 27 '12 at 16:34
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But, to answer your first question more directly: yes, ideally, at least one reference should specifically relate to announcements of domain name registration or something similar. As to your second question, I guess there's not much that can categorically prevent such claims. Ironically, this patent might make for good "obviousness"-type prior art rejections for future claims on scheduled publishing of other kinds of content. –  kinkfisher Sep 27 '12 at 16:41
    
The whole interface and workflow sounds like tweetdeck (released 2008) with "for domain names" taped on the end of it. –  Ben Brocka Sep 27 '12 at 18:38
    
Is this not obvious? Just an advert on a social network; Facebook would happily sell you these. –  Alex Chamberlain Sep 28 '12 at 7:19
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2 Answers 2

TweetDeck, a service now owned by Twitter, was originally released in July 2008 by Iain Dodsworth, TweetDeck largely matches all functionality within the patent with the exceptions of "domain name" (TweetDeck works on any textual form of information, domain names can be posted via the service).

TweetDeck's features seem to provide prior art to invalidate the originality of most of this patent's features. The remainders (domain names, advertising) seem obvious and not significant enough to make the process distinct from TweetDeck's functionality.

To go over the section you quote:

A) receiving from a client computer communicatively coupled to a network, by one or more server computers communicatively coupled to said network:

i) one or more authentication credentials, for a registrant of a domain name, for accessing an account on a social networking website; and

Tweetdeck does this (heck, all social media sites do this, save those without authentication). Ignoring "for a registrant of a domain name" which is just as easily replaced with "user", this is functionally identical to Tweetdeck. TweetDeck allows multiple Social Network credentials to be entered and for one user to post to multiple sites from one location via a dashboard.

ii) a delay period after which to publish, on a web page for said account, a domain name announcement comprising:

a) an announcement of a registration of said domain name; and

b) a hyperlink to a website resolving from said domain name; and

One of Tweetdeck's features is scheduling Tweets or status updates so they may be published at a predefined date. The workflow is very similar to Figure 5 in Go Daddy's patent; you use a control panel to set your "delay period" and your information to post (in this use case, a domain name). The announcement or Tweet is posted after the delay period. The steps of monitoring traffic (analytics) and "suggesting a product for increasing traffic" (showing an ad) seem to fall under "obvious" to me, but Twitter and Google both offer Analytics packages matching the former (and have since before 2009), and the product recommendation seems trivial and obvious; there's also countless examples of general targeted advertising out there.

B) responsive to an expiration of said delay period:

i) authenticating to said account, by said one or more server computers and using said one or more authentication credentials, via a social networking application programming interface; and

ii) publishing, by said one or more server computers, said domain name announcement to said web page for said account via said social networking application programming interface.

TweetDeck does this as mentioned above; a user signs into TweetDeck using credentials, via TweetDeck which impliments Twitter's API, a social networking application programming interface. TweetDeck publishes the "announcement" (tweet) to the "web page for said social networking application interface" (twitter via Twitter's API)

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Seems like OpenID is the standard for social networks. A number of companies, including Yahoo, Google, among others, allow us to login with OpenID as well as offering hosting services and domain name registration.

The patent seems a bit vague; for example, it does not seem to explicitly come out and say that the announcement on the social website must be readable by your friends. It simply goes onto a page of the social network. And if you use your google account to create a site, Webmaster Tools will automatically detect those sites and add them to the account that uses the google account, i.e. put the link to a new page on the new domain on your old page on your google account. Thus, the question I have is where do you draw the line. Google has had social networking in terms of email, Google Wave, and Google+. Google's not the only player in this space of companies that provide social networking and domain name registration.

According to Wikipedia, early social networking began around 1995. With Yahoo, and geocities, they provided a subdomain. Tripod.com also provided subdomains for their sites. However, I believe that Tripod.com also allowed for registering domain names. Tripod offers domain name registration and was the social website, although it has currently evolved into more of a domain name registrant and web design company, people used to go to Tripod to interact with their friends. Does that count as prior art?

What is a more clear example?

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