We’ve been sued.

BT, Prodigy U.S. hyperlink patent trial date set: BT owns what it calls the Hidden Page patent, which was filed in the U.S. in 1976, granted in 1989 and isn’t due to expire until 2006, giving the company the intellectual property rights to hyperlink technology. Hyperlinks connect text, images, and other data on the Internet in such a way as to allow a user to click on a highlighted object on a Web page in order to bring up an associated item contained elsewhere on the Web.


As far as I can tell, this patent applies just as well to symbolic links in the UNIX filesystem, Mac OS aliases, Windows shortcuts, anything written in Hypercard, anything with a GUI, menu-driven programs (smit, for example), an index, a b-tree, a detour sign, a table of contents in a printed book — or even a Socratic dialogue, which reveals the argument through questions.

To patent this is absurd.

Despite everything, some folks just don’t understand hyperlinks. You would think that the e-mail announcing this article would have contained the URL.

But I can see why it didn’t. The headline linking the story is not the same as the headline on the story. The article is not mentioned in the links for the print version, or for the section in which it appeared in the print version, though if I had the print version in front of me I may have jumped directly to the “Tech” section. And a search for terms known to be in the article didn’t find anything recent.