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[ih] BT patent claim [origins of the term "hyperlink"]

On 19-Apr-20 05:47, Marc Weber via Internet-history wrote:

> BTW around the year 2000, British Telecom tried unsuccessfully to make a legal claim they had invented the hyperlink. 

Yes, that was hilarious, but deeply embarrassing for Brits who knew better.

It was based on US Patent #4873662 (1977) and British patent 1389314 (1976).

As far as I know the claim fizzled out. I seem to remember that the Engelbart video was used to show prior art, but in any case the claims in the patent had a very tenuous relationship to hyper-anything.


-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: BT Patent?
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 13:07:18 -0400
From: Don Heath <heath at isoc.org>
To: Brian E Carpenter <brian at hursley.ibm.com>
CC: IAB <iab at iab.org>, iesg at ietf.org

At 11:40 AM 6/20/00 -0500, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
>For those of us who are not WSJ subscribers can you send the article?
>Note that if it's a UK patent, the prior art rule doesn't apply;
>European patents go to the first to file.

British Telecom Seeks License Fees From a U.S. Patent for Hyperlinks

A WSJ.com News Roundup

LONDON -- British Telecommunications PLC plans to seek licensing fees under 
a longstanding U.S. patent covering hyperlink technology - the widely used 
tool for linking Web sites on the Internet.

BT first realized in 1997 that the patent, which expires in 2006, might 
have commercial value, and the United Kingdom telecoms group has been 
preparing to exploit it for the past three years, a company spokesman said. 
U.S. Internet-service providers will be BT's first targets for the 
licensing fees, but it may also look to other U.S. companies as well, the 
spokesman said.

BT said it doesn't own similar patents in Europe or elsewhere. It filed the 
U.S. patent in 1976. BT would not give any indication of how much it might 
charge for a license, but it said it will not attempt to apply it 

"We are not being specific about the financial proceeds - it will depend on 
the U.S. ISPs' reaction. But we are looking for a reasonable royalty," the 
spokesman said. BT is focusing on ISPs because it believes it would be 
impractical to extend the action to every U.S. Web site using hyperlinks.

But the spokesman added that BT may also look to charge a license fee to 
U.S. companies that use hyperlink technology in their corporate intranets. 
QED, a U.K. company that specializes in the exploitation of 
intellectual-property rights, will help BT enforce the patent. QED is owned 
by Scipher PLC, a U.K. technology group.

Hyperlinks allow Internet users to move between pages by clicking on 
pictures or text.

Nigel Hawkins, an analyst at Williams de Broe, said the patent question is 
likely to be overshadowed by more important matters for investors, such as 
BT's involvement in the third-generation mobile licenses auctions in 
Germany. "This is a desperately complex legal issue," he said. "It's 
difficult to see an immediate impact on the share price in the short term."

-- WSJ.com staff reporter David Pringle contributed to this article