Facebook in 2006 filed for a patent covering ‘the feed,’ as it is known among the tech world. That patent was just granted. Something to note, Facebook filed this before feeds were in vogue, before some social darlings were even born.
Next Web cites what the patent covers and has a link to the full patent. As the author points out, it remains to be seen what Facebook will do - likely something that involves royalties - but it's "probably going to get ugly."
How feeds are able to help people filter, sort, and keep up with multiple information channels is very timely. I recently linked to a Clay Shirky lecture on re-framing the information overload conundrum. Feeds seem to be part of the answer, witnessed by the recent launching of Google Buzz - despite it's not-ready-for-prime-time functionality. Considering these trends the timing of this patent award is uncanny.
I've found little commentary in the regular media but some bloggers have jumped in. All Facebook has some interesting details on the patent - that they are continuing to update - such as the patent does not include status feeds. I can hear the collective "Phew" coming from Twitter.
Facebook Just Patented The Feed – What Does That Mean For Everyone That Uses Them?