Hot on the heels of Facebook patenting the social news feed, Google-owned Mechanical Zoo, the company behind Aardvark, has filed a patent application which would see it owning the practice of using social status messages for word of mouth marketing.
In the application, the company details how it wants to own the practice of using social networks to invite people to sign up for a web service, in this case, Aardvark.
Images submitted with the application (below) show a version of the Aardvark sign up screen complete with a ‘Tell your friends about Aardvark’ section which allows a message linking to a user’s Aardvark account that can be optionally sent to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and Google Talk.
This practice is nothing new; Aardvark isn’t the first to implement this type of marketing. We’re not lawyers but we think they might struggle to secure the patent. That said, if Facebook can own the news feed, something that is pretty much universal in social web services these days, anything can happen.
If granted, the patent wouldn’t be likely to affect services like Foursquare that use social media to share users’ activities such as check-ins – this is solely related to sending a message when a user first signs up to a service. Pictures below.