British Telecommunications has launched an effort to enforce its ownership of the US patent for hypertext links. Patent attorneys working for BT have started with a suit against Prodigy Communications Corp. in New York State that seeks $Millions in fees. If the test case succeeds, BT would be in a position to collect enormous royalties from US ISPs.
BT was awarded its Hidden Page patent in 1989. The patent was forgotten and then rediscovered by accident. The company was awarded similar patents in other countries but they have expired everywhere but the US. Many analysts doubt the case is likely to succeed as hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP, was developed at the Swiss CERN nuclear research center drawing from earlier work by Ted Nelson who reportedly coined the term hypertext in his 1965 book, Literary Machines.