A patent on footnotes

Ross Mayfield reports that the SBC’s is claiming a patent on website navigation, via BoingBoing

SBC is claiming that it holds a valid patent on website navigation and has begun to shake down websites for license fees. Near as I can tell, they think their patent applies to virtually every website extant.

SBC is claiming to patent the concept of a menu with tabs that correspond to specific locations within a website.
This is the online equivalent of somebody attempting to patent footnotes and tables of contents.
The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, by Elizabeth Eisenstein, is a long but fascinating study of the impact of printing on European culture, including the renaissance, reformation, and scientific revolution.
Standard navigation in books — tables of contents, indexes, tables of figures, footnotes — were made possible by the printing press. Each printed book in an edition had the same page numbers, makeing it possible to refer to the same content in different books by the page number. This wasn’t possible with handwritten books; each manuscript had different pagination.
The standardization of print navigation made it easier for scholars to collaborate across distance, since they could easily refer to the same content in the same book. Better scholarly collaboration helped fuel the renaissance and scientific revolution.
Think about the different destiny of European civilization if a single publisher had been able to patent footnotes.
also thanks to Chip Rosenthal for a heads-up on this.

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