In a patent, only the claims have the force of law. Here's the first claim from the British Telecom hyperlink patent, closed-captioned for the metaphorically impaired:

1. A digital information storage, retrieval and display system comprising:
  • a central computer means in which plural blocks of information are stored at respectively corresponding locations, each of which locations is designated by a predetermined address therein by means of which a block can be selected, each of said blocks comprising a first portion containing information for display and a second portion containing information not for display(1) but including the complete address for each of plural other blocks of information;
  • plural remote terminal means, each including (a) modem means for effecting input/output digital data communication with said central computer means via the telephone lines of a telephone network(2), (b) local memory for locally storing digital data representing at least the first portion of the selected block of information received via said modem means from the central computer, (c) display means for visually displaying such a locally stored first portion of a block of information and (d) key pad means connected to communicate data to at least said modem means for manual entry of keyed digital data; and
  • further memory means being provided as a part of said central computer means for receiving and storing said second portion of the block of information selected by a particular terminal means in response to the selection of the block and when its respective first portion is transmitted to that terminal means for display, said central computer means utilizing keyed digital data from that particular terminal means of less extent than any one of said complete addresses for another block of information but nevertheless uniquely indicative of one of the complete addresses contained in said portion of the block of information which contains the first portion then being displayed by that particular terminal means for selectively accessing the part of said further memory means associated with that particular terminal means and for supplying the complete address of the next block of information which is to be retrieved for that particular terminal means and utilized for display purposes at that terminal means.
There are six other claims. Two claims relate to billing for content; others seem to restate the same material, probably to cover a bit more of the space of patentable inventions.

Possible loopholes

  1. The patent seems to specify that the links are stored in a separate part of the document from the content.
  2. Use a cable modem. The patent specifies a dial-up connection; this is why BT is pursuing only dial-up ISPs.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Nothing you read on Everything is legal advice. Please /msg me with your corrections.

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