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Facebook's Zuckerberg wins privacy patent, 6 years on

A patent application submitted six years ago by the founder of Facebook has now been approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Mark Zuckerberg -- CEO, hoodie wearer, patent holder.
James Martin/CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2006 patent application governing certain privacy settings has been approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- six years after first being submitted.

The patent, number 8,225,376, was first applied for on July 25, 2006. Zuckerberg and Facebook's former chief privacy officer Chris Kelly are credited as inventors for the patent, which is titled "Dynamically generating a privacy summary." The abstract reads:

A system and method for dynamically generating a privacy summary is provided. The present invention provides a system and method for dynamically generating a privacy summary. A profile for a user is generated. One or more privacy setting selections are received from the user associated with the profile. The profile associated with the user is updated to incorporate the one or more privacy setting selections. A privacy summary is then generated for the profile based on the one or more privacy setting selections.

The patent likely sounds more complicated than it is: as ReadWriteWeb puts it, it's probably little more than "a fancy accessory for Zuckerberg".

The patent basically covers a method of displaying an account holder's profile based on chosen privacy settings, including how a profile is displayed on screen to the individual in question and other users or groups on a social network.

Originally rejected by USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) examiners due to "obvious" claims in the patent (1, 8 and 16), ReadWriteWeb reports that after Facebook went public, the social networking giant redoubled its efforts to push the patent through -- requesting numerous interviews and a reinvestigation in to the application in February this year. Eventually, the effort paid off, and the patent has now been granted.