Facebook Gets Patents for the Inventions of Foursquare and Gowalla - What?

By Chandrajit, Gaea News Network
Thursday, October 7, 2010

NEW YORK — The war among the Location based industry may have been started quite sometime ago but the latest player seems to grab all the trophies. Facebook may have got its pass into the location war battlefield with the birth of Facebook Places launching only a few months ago, but it’s been engraving its roots about how to add location to social networking for quite a few years. Just a few days ago, we noted that Facebook has been granted a patent on “Systems and methods for automatically locating web-based social network members”. Well, certainly it was the cup of tea for the well known location warriors. It had serious implications for the geo-mobile social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla.

The shocking fact is that the patent has broadly covered every nic and kin around the patent.The “method of sharing locations of users participating in a social networking service at a geographic location” has been the main topic of the patent. The patent mention the use of a “GPS identifier” and its combination of a status update with the Facebook user’s current location. It also take up the scope of checkins.

The Patent mentions:

the status information manually provided by the first user on an input module of the mobile device; associating the location information with the status information of the first user in a database; and sending the status information and the location information of the first user to a second user for display.

The patent simply hits on what Foursquare and Gowalia has been planning upon. It has covered all the points which can be deemed as the most surreal backbone for the for Foursquare’s and Gowalla.

Now, since the patent has already been taken, the audiences of the doubtful arena are quite curious about how Facebook is going to implement their new patent. Will the patent be a shield or will it be a sword? It is a doubtful scene about whether Facebook will treat this merely as a defensive patent or use it as a stick in negotiations with other mobile social networks. Hopefully, we can all expect that our favorite social network is not going to go by the Microsoft way. Let’s hope for the best that its not going to use its patent to remove all its competition.

The abstract of the patent is here:

Systems and methods for automatically locating web-based social network members are provided. According to one embodiment, contact content including an associated GPS identifier and status for web-based social network members located at or near the same location automatically appears on a GPS-enabled device. A further exemplary system includes a GPS-enabled device configured to receive a GPS identifier and a status representing a location and a current state for a web-based social network member, a processing module that associates the received GPS-identifier and the received status, and a communications module that sends the associated GPS-identifier and status to a server comprising a web-based social network database. Contact content in a web-based social network database record in the web-based social network database is updated to include the associated GPS identifier and status for the web-based social network member.

So, as we can see, Facebook Places is going to be in the limelight now. Let’s us know your thoughts on how you are looking upon the new step that Facebook has taken. Would you like Facebook’s monopoly or would you prefer it among competition?

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