Yahoo Files Patent Suits Against Facebook For Social Networking, Messaging

When Facebook was shooting up in popularity, everyone wanted to hang out with them and get something going, including Yahoo. But Yahoo has had enough of Mark Zuckerberg, it seems, as they’re filing patent suits against Facebook claiming it’s using technologies they developed without paying any licensing fees.

Yahoo wanted Facebook to pay fees for at least 10 patents, says the Washington Post, and as the court filing indicates, those patents involve technologies for advertising, privacy, social networking, messaging and allowing users to customize their Web experience.

Yahoo has issued a statement on the kerfuffle with Facebook, saying they’re the ones who did all the research to develop “numerous patented inventions of technology” which other companies have licensed to use.

“These technologies are the foundation of our business that engages over 700 million monthly unique visitors and represent the spirit of innovation upon which Yahoo! is built. Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved, and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court. We are confident that we will prevail.”

Facebook brings up their partnership with Yahoo over the years to voice their displeasure with the lawsuits, saying:

“We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation. Once again, we learned of Yahoo’s decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions.”

Tech companies have been suing each other left and right, it seems — Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Apple and Microsoft are all embroiled somehow. In this case it might be at the urging of new Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson, say reports. He’s caused a few shakeups already, with co-founder Jerry Yang and chairman Roy Bostock announcing their imminent departures from the company.

Yahoo files patent suit against Facebook [Washington Post]


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  1. GrimJack says:

    How the mighty have fallen – Yahoo reduced to being a patent troll, trying to shake down the next generation based on weak patents on general concepts that are overly vague. I seem to recall them shaking down Google when Google was about to do their IPO (at the time, Google settled with stock to Yahoo – I hope Facebook stands up for themselves…)

    • rugman11 says:

      Meh. Apple’s doing the same thing.

    • Jawaka says:

      I’ve never understood this argument. If Yahoo did have the foresight to develop and patent a technology before anyone else then why shouldn’t they be allowed to protect it. If you developed a product or a technology yourself and another company appropriated it wouldn’t you sue? I sure the hell would.

      • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

        Because most software patents are exactly the same as patenting book plots?
        Imagine a patent on “a story involving a bear, a forest and a hero, involving conflict”. In almost every case that’s what a software patent is. The few rare exceptions (ie the GIF patent) the patent was on a very real, non obvious, and novel mechanism.

        Many patents are also so dubious that they are patents of common real world processes. Basically they take an existing business methodology and tack on “on a computer!” or “on the web!” to the end and call it an invention.

        Copyright for software only, say I, and I say that as a software developer.

        • Jawaka says:

          Blame the system and the rules that are set in place then. Don’t blame the people who play by rules that they didn’t create.

        • rugman11 says:

          Yeah, I looked at Yahoo’s patents and the first three are all about a system to place ads on a website based on where users click the most. That’s a concept, not a process. It shouldn’t be patentable.

  2. Cat says:

    Yahoo!: Patent Troll.

    • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

      *Please try & read prior posts before making your own so we can avoid doubles of the same ideas. Above, GrimJack has beaten you to the punch line of, ‘Patent Trolls’.

      Best & Toodles,
      This guy!

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        they’re two minutes apart, it’s very conceivable that you were writing and posting this as basically the same time.

        Also, get over yourself.

        • tbax929 says:

          Thank you for this, Loias. Some people are just complete asses online.

          • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

            I was being kind of sarcastic, but I should know by now that this form of expression doesn’t carry over well via the internets.

            *I do appreciate you both nannying the world wide web & its users. Good job to you both!

            /no sars

  3. Vox Republica says:

    I think it’s a dubious move on Yahoo’s part, but it’s not patent trolling by any standard. They actually offer a service‚Äîor at least I assume they do: I take it as an article of faith that Yahoo still exists.

    • nugatory says:

      I’m calling it Trolling.

      You have patents. You think someone infringes them, you get it worked out. You don’t wait for an IPO and spring it on them at the last moment to try and force them to settle.

      The fact this is the second time they used that exact strategy… I’ve lost all respect for what was once a good company.

      • Vox Republica says:

        Patent trolls are a very specific thing: entities whose revenue stream is solely dependent on litigation related to their patent portfolio. Even as Yahoo’s timing may be suspect (though it’s worth noting they’ve been going through some fairly public financial issues that are probably more pressing than their attitudes towards Facebook’s IPO), it is not patent trolling.

        From a purely strategic vantage point, I think the IPO timing is actually very smart: you’ll get a look inside their books, and presumably one can point out how much money Patent X or Patent Y brought in the door. If, as it turns out, Facebook has been the beneficiaries of unlicensed patents, Yahoo is timing this just right.

  4. Tyanna says:

    You know what they say; If you can’t innovate, litigate!

  5. RickinStHelen says:

    Software patents that were granted are inane. It could be an idea as simple as ” A system whereby a picture is located on the top of the computer screen with text loctated below it, and a system to deliver advertising.” Patent granted. You haven’t created anything, you’ve written no code, you just described an idea that others probably had also. But you get the patent. Imagine if you could do so with other patents. “A product that uses a means of force and pressure to make another object penetrate a surface thereby affixing the two as one.” You would get a patent on hammers, screwdrivers, staples, and date rape. The system needs to be fixed.

  6. ganon446 says:

    I want to say ever since Yahoo Clubs shut down because of child porn that was the beginning of the end of Yahoo. At one point child porn was freely on Yahoo and at some point the feds came in. Instead of fixing the software they built they instead bought out Egroups and shut down Yahoo Clubs forever and that began and horrible trend.

    -They lost local customer service for India.
    -Instead of creating they’d buy out other services only to drop them.
    -Allowed spam bots in chat rooms, people flee
    -Yahoo Personals stop allowing people to search by username both people need to have an a paid personal account.
    -Messenger ads, ads and becomes slow and bulky.
    -Yahoo kills Private Chat rooms. I understand why but yeah…I am going elsewhere.

    I’ve been on Yahoo since 1995 and it took me a lot to keep me off but at this point my gmail has an Authenticator and my yahoo account has been hacked so many times I don’t know why companies still use crappy Security Questions

    Yahoo is big but it’s a bloated website diseased it’s time Yahoo ends it self unless they seriously change.

    • gman863 says:

      “They lost local customer service for India.”

      Did it get outsourced to China or the USA?


  7. dolemite says:

    I think software patents have gone horribly wrong. You can’t patent hazy ideas like “a window that allows you to type in it to communicate”. So…someone comes up with an IM that is similar to yours. Is the code the same? I bet it’s similar, but it’s not the same.Now…I think you should be able to patent the look of it, but not generic ideas like “buttons on the sides”.

  8. econobiker says:

    Yahoo- you could have been more than Facebook even back in the late 1990s. But NOOOOOO! but you and your minions started to LIMIT and REDUCE the amount of personal information and interests shared via the old Yahoo Profiles. Started to limit egroup/onlist= yahoo group link sharing. Duhhhhh you lost it then.

    Then you screwed up with Yahoo 360 and then dumping profile posted pictures to Flickr. etc

    Yahoo, you could have been a contender….