Securing Social Media Patents

22 December 2020

Securing Social Media Patents

At a time when the world is battling with the new normal, “remoteness” of connectivity has become more significant than ever before. Case in point is the use of social media which has witnessed immense popularity in the past decade with the pandemic further augmenting its need in the lives of consumers. Thus, in order to optimally tap on the present market the situation, companies are massively focussing on introducing newer technologies to gauge consumer attention - with patent rights facilitating the creation and exacerbation of such innovation.

For instance, Facebook has secured an Indian patent for its invention relating to systems and methods for generating dynamic relationship-based content, personalised for members of the web-based social network.

According to Ankita Sabharwal, Chadha and Chadha, Associate, the social media giant claimed that the invention for which patent protection has been granted is the company’s answer to find need-based interactions from the pile of information and data available on social networking sites.

“Aimed at systemizing the volume of data generated through the “social media footprints”, the said patent also elucidates the use of personal data by social media companies in order to create and ordinate consumer demands,” she says.

Apart from Facebook, other conglomerates which have secured social media patents include Google and Twitter. Google has secured a patent in India for its technology to create virtual graffiti in a mobile virtual and augmented reality (AR) the system, aimed at helping users leave a message for them or their friends at a location in the future is also viewed to be consistent with the growing trends of “virtual communities”, triggered by social media usage.

Recently Twitter, rather than entering into litigation against IBM, bought 900 patents from that company, including at least three that IBM stated Twitter was infringing upon in a letter to the corporation. Prospective litigation also led Facebook to acquire patents from IBM as well.

“Similar to other patent applications, social media patents are mandated to meet the criteria of novelty, non-obviousness and industrial application as laid out under Section 2 of the Indian Patents Act,” says Sabharwal. “However, with the sprighted ameliorations on these new-age Informatica platforms, social media patents often present unprecedented challenges in the realm of the patent regimes across the globe. Social media companies make use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) in order to expand their platforms. AI/ML models can learn and adapt, and hence potentially come up with solutions to various kinds of problems on their own. However, the Patent Act states that any computer-related innovation must have a ‘human’ inventor, complicating patent applications. It also bars patenting of computer programmes and algorithms. Thus, the Indian Patents Act, 1970 needs to be revamped in accordance with the changing models of techno-innovation.”

In the near future, she sees this as social media evolving into an intangible world of its own, dictating consumer behaviour and business decisions.

“As social media continues to strive and thrive, innovation must be protected in order to ensure its growth,” she says. “Thus, with newer technologies being introduced, greater patent rights must be secured by companies to protect their innovation and commercialize optimally. Thus, the near future shall witness an unparalleled rise in both the scale and quality of social media patents.”


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