BT has been claiming a legal right to the patent for the hyperlink - one of the most common elements on the Internet. This is the technology that allows us to click words and be taken to web pages. How they intend to control such a patent is a mystery but they have had a setback in the form of a New York federal judge called Colleen McMahon.
BT have been saying that they have patents which cover very similar concepts to the hyperlink but the conclusion reached by Judge McMahon was that BT's claim wasn't true. She explained that the patent wasn't valid when put into the context of the World Wide Web as it was for the use of links like hyperlinks on individual machines.
BT has been attempting to sue US ISP Prodigy Communications for using the hyperlink technology and this case is important as it could lead to many more similar lawsuits if BT's case was proven in a court. They claim the patent originates from the 70s and what they want from the case is payments for the use of the technology. If they successfully convinced a judge to order such payments they could make millions from legal action against other organisations. Hyperlink-type technology was originally developed - BT claim - by themselves and Tim Berners-Lee and they have a right to this technology. Others believe, however, that hypertext originated from a 1963 book called Literary Machine by Ted Nelson.
While it looks unlikely now, if BT ever manage to win a case like this it could mean one thing for all who use any internet related service not provided by BT: more costs to the end user. The chances of them ever getting what they want, for once, are getting slimmer.
News source: Vnunet
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