theodp writes "Q. How many Facebook engineers does it take in 2010 to duplicate a lone Apple engineer's 2003 effort? A. 15! On Nov. 15th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Messages, which uses whatever method of communication is appropriate at the time — e.g., email, IM, SMS. A day later, ex-Apple software engineer Jens Alfke was granted a patent for his 2003 invention of a Method and apparatus for processing electronic messages, which — you guessed it — employs the most appropriate messaging method — e.g., email, IM, SMS — for the job. Citing Apple's lack of passion for social software, Alfke left Apple in 2008. After a layover at Google, Alfke landed at startup Rockmelt, whose still-in-beta 'social web browser' also sports a pretty nifty communications platform."