October 28, 2002 – A U.S. Federal Court recently dismissed British Telecom’s (BT) claim that it holds the patent to “hyperlinks” – the technology that enables Internet users to jump from one web page to another at the click of a mouse. The case was dismissed by summary judgment at the request of Prodigy – the Internet Service Provider (ISP) against whom BT claimed patent infringement.

BT’s controversial “hyperlink patent” (U.S. Patent No. 4,873,662) was filed in 1976 and was recently rediscovered by BT during a routine audit of its patent database. BT contacted 17 ISP’s, including Prodigy, in June 2000 asking them to purchase a licence to use the hyperlink technology.

When they refused, BT initiated its action for patent infringement against Prodigy as a test case.