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It would be a very good idea for INSNA to do this. Patenting has also
shown up among social network analysts involved in management consulting.
You wouldn't think that network analytic strategies for improving
corporate culture would be patentable, but that's the claim.
And we thought the physicists were imperialists...
On Mon, 1 Dec 2003, Guy Hagen wrote:
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> To follow up on Stan Wasserman's post about the NYTimes article, I've pulled
> up the patent title and abstract referenced by the article.
> My original fear was that someone managed to patent published social network
> analysis algorithms or indices. Although this isn't the case, I still find
> it somewhat troubling - from the core claims as I understand them, the
> patent is for (a) a database of emails/communication, and (b) a method of
> making connections among database entities with a geodesic distance of 2+.
> Patents generally are not issued in cases where the technology is not
> replicable, are easily reverse engineered, based on technology known to the
> public, or are obvious /general knowledge. Would it be worthwhile for INSNA
> to send a letter to the US Patent Office offering expertise in what is "not
> obvious" regarding network science? "Obviousness" is apparently one of the
> trickiest issues that patent examiners face.
> Here's a good web primer for the subject of patent requirements:
> Title: Method and apparatus for constructing a networking database and
> A networking database containing a plurality of records for different
> individuals in which individuals are connected to one another in the
> database by defined relationships. Each individual has the opportunity to
> define the relationship which may be confirmed or denied. E-mail messaging
> and interactive communication between individuals and a database service
> provider provide a method of constructing the database. The method
> includes having a registered individual identify further individuals and
> define therewith a relationship. The further individuals then, in turn,
> establish their own defined relationships with still other individuals.
> The defined relationships are mutually defined.
> Link to online patent:
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Blumstein-Jordan Professor of Sociology and Statistics
Department of Sociology
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3340
Office: (206) 685-3402
Dept Office: (206) 543-5882
Fax: (206) 543-2516
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