Saturday, 16 July 2011

Google Granted Patent for Cross Domain Communication - Should Facebook be Alarmed?

The battle between Facebook and Google further intensified in the last few days with the launch of Google Plus. The launch of Google Plus also saw many software tools introduced in the market that allowed people to reconstruct their Facebook contact list on Google Plus. However, it is reported that such tools [Open Xchange, Chrome Extension] have been blocked by Facebook for security reasons. As the Internet giants battle over data import and export, I happened to stumble upon a patent that was granted to Google on July 12, 2001. The patent is US7979791 (the '791 patent), entitled "Cross Domain Communication", and was filed on July 30, 2007. What makes the patent interesting is its relevance with respect to the current tussle between Facebook and Google over data import and export.

The '791 patent has a total of 25 claims including 5 independent claims. The claims of the '791 patent disclose method and computer product for transferring information from a first Internet Domain to a second Internet Domain. The first independent claim says:

"A computer-implemented method comprising: receiving information requested from a first Internet domain at a parent container document associated with a web-accessible document hosted at a second Internet domain; generating, using the parent container document, a plurality of child container documents that are associated with the second Internet domain; fragmenting the received information into fragments, and passing the fragments of the received information from the container document to the plurality of child container documents associated with the second Internet domain for access by the web-accessible document; and generating another child container document that stores information indicating, at least, a number of child container documents across which the received information has been fragmented and an order for reassembling the fragments of the received information."

Check out the problem mentioned in the Background section of the document:

"Some browsers incorporate security models that limit communication between different Internet domains. For example, a web application on Internet domain A can make a request for information from a server on Internet domain B, but cannot receive the response back to an application associated with Internet domain A (instead, the response is sent to an application or element associated with Internet domain B). This may prevent the application associated with Internet domain A from manipulating or displaying the requested information."

And the figures too:

Open Xchange use an Application programming Interface (API) to read the first and last names of users present on Facebook and thereafter match those names to other email records in the user account. The Chrome extension allows the user to extract information such as email address, birthdays, contact information etc. and save them in a text file. Users with Yahoo accounts can also extract names and email address in a CSV file format. While the method for extracting may differ, they are essentially solving the same problem.  

So what is your take on the '791 patent and the above methods for extracting the information and importing the information into Google Plus? Does the '791 patent cover the methods that are currently being used by Open Xchange and other software vendors to retrieve data from Facebook? Let me know your thoughts.

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  1. Hi , I have few ideas to implement for google.. is there a procedure to approach google to patent the same ?please suggest as early as possible.

  2. There are many things to consider before you approach Google or any other company for patenting. You will have to get a patentability assessment of your inventions and determine whether your invention is novel, non-obvious and has some kind of utility. You can read on wikipedia and Indian Patent office for further information on patents and the steps to obtain patents. Please get in touch with a local patent attorney or patent agent and take advise. I am not authorized to provide any legal advice. Do not consider this as a legal advise. Thanks