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The game is over, and Friendster lost.

That's how it looked a few weeks ago. Facebook was climbing, MySpace had outstripped even Yahoo for raw pageviews, and even Tribe could claim victory if it sold to NBC. But Friendster, with under a million visitors a month, was dead. It had shuffled off this mortal coil, it was an ex-company.

Until it won a long-sought patent on online social networking.

Frankly, said people within, they hadn't seen that coming. And everyone knows that a few small companies launched social networks before Friendster, and those companies could claim prior art and negate the patent.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, Friendster might make a go at using this patent. It could go the sweet way, licensing "its" technology to social networks like MySpace. Or it could go the bitter way by filing lawsuits.

Either way, Friendster should strike before everyone else figures out that it doesn't deserve this patent.

Friendster Patent on Linking Web Friends Could Hurt Rivals [WSJ]