On Thursday, the USPTO published a patent application filed by Facebook which caught interest of masses. The patent – Event-Based Ridesharing – reveals Facebook’s intentions to join a battle which behemoths like Uber and Ola are already fighting.
After reading the title of the patent, I was like – this is cool, this is going to be big. I assumed that FB is going to give Uber, Ola run for their money.
With that thought in mind I started reading the claims. And as soon as I read the first independent and its dependent claim, the assumption of FB giving Uber, Ola or other such companies a hard time evaporated like water evaporates from the Sun’s surface.
Patents are from inventions. And Facebook’s patent doesn’t qualify to be called as an ‘invention’ at all. It’s obvious. There’s nothing novel in it. The patent basically is a crap. Here is what I identified, check it and decide.
The patent describes displaying different events like party, movie plan or travel plan to users. These events include details like date, location etc. and further give options to indicate your intention; for example, if you want to attend and drive to the event or not.
And FB wants to use this indication for ride sharing purpose.
After reading the patent, I headed to one of the event pages on Facebook and webpage of BlaBlaCar. Below is the snapshot of that event. You can see that event page contains same details as mentioned in the patent.
Here is another snapshot for indicating your choices –
So this already exists in FB itself and that too for a long time. Now we are left with the “ride sharing” thing which as per FB is something new.
Have a look on snapshot of BlaBlaCar. Now the onus is on you to decide whether it’s invention or a blatant cribbing.
Let me help you one more time in making your decision. The patent filing date is July 25, 2014 and BlaBlaCar is a ten year old company which connects drivers and passengers willing to travel together and use social media integration also.
A patent application gets granted if it satisfies following three conditions:
- Novelty i.e. the concept described in a patent should not exist – in written form or in usage.
- Non-obvious i.e. the concept should not be obvious.
- Industrial application.
So, this patent may never see the light of a granted day. A patent examiner will, for sure, reject this patent on non-obviousness and novelty ground as it’s already in existence and isn’t a new concept at all.
Below is the first independent claim of the patent application in case you like to take a dive in it –
A computer-implemented method comprising: presenting, to a first user of a network service, a description of an event, a selectable option for the first user to indicate an intention to attend the event, and an indication of users of the network service that intend to attend the event;
receiving an indication that the first user intends to attend the event; receiving a selection of a set of one or more users of the network service the first user is willing to take as passengers to the event;
receiving an indication that a second user of the network service intends to attend the event;
and presenting the first user as a potential driver to the second user in response to receiving the indication that the second user intends to attend the event and determining the second user is within the set of one or more users.
Now, many companies are moving toward ride sharing. And Google is planning some amazing things for ride sharing with its Waymo and Maps app. One new feature is automatic scheduling of booking cabs which soon roll out in its Map.