AOL Time Warner owns a patent, granted in September, that covers much of the technology behind instant messaging. Patent No. 6,449,344 gives the company exclusive rights to a "communications system for facilitating locating a user who is connected to a communications network." AOL inherited the patent application, filed in 1997 by Mirabilis, after AOL bought the Israeli firm. AOL Time Warner hasn't decided how to exercise its rights, a spokesman says. "No comments" came from IM-service companies Yahoo and Microsoft.