I think I belong to nearly every social network out there now: Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut and, as of last Wednesday, Facebook. The network I used the most was Friendster, because most of my friends already had profiles on there. No one I know uses Orkut and my colleagues and I are listed on LinkedIn. But a fair number of people I know use MySpace, and given the kind of publicity it’s garnered lately, its userbase is growing by the day.

Friendster, on the other hand, has plateaued in terms of monthly visiters to its site. Its attempt to sell itself following the sale of MySpace to NewsCorp failed. So other than spending millions on marketing, what’s a social networking site to do to keep things hopping?

According to a Wall Street Journal article, Friendster has armed itself with a patent in order to level the social networking playing field. In June, their request to patent the technology for searching for people based on degrees offriendster_full.jpg relationship was approved. The US Patent and Trademark Office is also expected to approve another patent for a technology that allows users to upload personal content onto friends’ pages.

Of course, this leads to all kinds of tantalizing questions: Will Friendster rule the social networking world, lording its numerous patents over its myspacetom-30378.jpgcompetitors? Will Facebook shrivel up and die? Whatever happened to Orkut? Does Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams have more friends Tom on MySpace? Is he smarter? Richer?

The article is here.