Facebook Wins Patents For Tagging in Photos, Other Digital Media

Tagging was arguably the feature that made Facebook the biggest photo site in the world and seeded the idea for creating the platform.

Now the company has finally won a patent for it.

Nearly five years after the company originally filed for the invention, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave Facebook a patent protecting the ability to select a region in a piece of media (like a photo or video) and associate people or other entities with it. Mark Zuckerberg, longtime designer-turned-product architect Aaron Sittig and former Facebook engineer Scott Marlette were credited as inventors.

Zuckerberg has long talked about photo tagging as the innovation that helped him and other early Facebook employees initially conceive of the idea for the platform. The company did a competitive analysis of all other photo products out on the web and while Facebook didn’t offer features like high resolution or printing, it still outcompeted rivals simply because it centered its product around people, and not around technical capabilities. Last year the company said it was seeing more than 100 million photo uploads a day. It has not updated that statistic since.

Because of photo tagging’s initial success, the company started thinking about other products and verticals that could be reinvented around social behavior. When it became clear that with limited engineering resources, the company wouldn’t be able to create every single possible idea on top of the social graph, it opened up the ability for other third-party developers to do so.

The company won one other patent in the last month too: the ability to give gifts in a social networking environment. This one was credited to Jared Morgenstern, who is a product manager on the games team. Gifts were ultimately deprecated in 2010, but virtual goods have become an indirect source of revenue for the company through its currency Credits.

Facebook also applied for four search-related patents in the last month that control how results are shown to users based on their social proximity to the information or how often they access it. All of those patents are credited to Christopher Lunt, Nicholas Galbreath and Jeffrey Winner.

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12 Responses to “Facebook Wins Patents For Tagging in Photos, Other Digital Media”

  1. Random thoughts 5/18/2011 | Random Tech Bits says:

    [...] At least they don’t have a broken patent system. For the record China stinks also. Again software patents are a bad [...]

  2. Facebook Finally Wins Tagging Patent | Inc. Technology says:

    [...] Sittig, and ex-Facebook engineer Scott Marlette, the trio who invented the concept. According to InsideFacebook blog, over 100 million photos are uploaded every single day to Facebook. Read more from InsideFacebook. [...]

  3. Facebook Patent For Digital Media Tagging Granted: What Next? : Online Social Media says:

    [...] and networks.There’s also a pretty good explanation of the patents and what they mean over on insidefacebook.com where Kim-Mai Cutler has added an article. Cutler also mentions that Facebook applied for four [...]

  4. Facebook Awarded Patent For Tagging Photos And Digital Media | Redmond Pie says:

    [...] (via Inside Facebook) [...]

  5. La etiqueta se toma las páginas de Facebook - ENTER.CO says:

    [...] Insidefacebook, Zuckerberg en varias oportunidades ha hecho referencia a la importancia del etiquetado de fotos [...]

  6. Brevetti, il tag diventa di Facebook – Wired.it « Nicocara's Blog says:

    [...] Assagne. L’ultima pensata in ordine di tempo è griffata Mark Zuckerberg ed è relativa alla registrazione dell’attività di tagging. La richiesta del giovane genitore di Facebook risale in realtà a [...]

  7. Levédte a facebook a taggelést | Gépnarancs says:

    [...] szabadalommal szilárdította meg hatalmát a Facebook: az Amerikai Szabadalmi- és Védjegyhivatal bejegyezte az ismerősök fotókon történő megjelölését (taggelését) lehetővé tevő [...]

  8. Vecka 22 – En himla massa länkar | Tores sagor från verkligheten says:

    [...] Facebook lyckas få mjukvarupatent på taggning av bilder. De har redan patent på ”ge virtuella presenter i socialt nätverk”. Att habbo och lunarstorm haft det sen urminnes tider verkar inte spela någon roll. Påminner lite om när Microsoft patenterade ”page up” och ”page down”-idén. Må mjukvarupatentens styggelse aldrig nå Europa. [...]

  9. Daily Digest for June 17th - Serendipity says:

    [...] Facebook Wins Patents For Tagging in Photos, Other Digital Media [...]

  10. Wait, Aren’t Restaurants Risky? says:

    [...] engineer Scott Marlette, th&#1077 trio wh&#959 invented th&#1077 concept. According t&#959 InsideFacebook blog, over 100 million photos &#1072r&#1077 uploaded &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 single day t&#959 [...]

  11. #26 The Home Tech Podcast: Document Scanning at Home, Facebook, WiseStamp Email Signatures, and iDevice Facial Recognition says:

    [...] of web browsing with Internet Explorer 9.From the Patents Office, Facebook has been awarded a Patent for Image Tagging, the feature that allows you to identify people in the photos you have uploaded to Facebook.For [...]

  12. Random thoughts 5/18/2011 | XPUNetwork says:

    [...] At least they don’t have a broken patent system. For the record China stinks also. Again software patents are a bad [...]

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