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Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:08

Facebook stole our idea claims Yahoo

Written by Nick Farrell



Details of patent war revealed


Details are starting to emerge of the patents that Yahoo claims that Facebook ripped off and it is starting to look like the search engine outfit is claiming it invented social networking.

Court documents found by Ars Technica show that Yahoo is claiming that Facebook's entire social network model as its own invention. [Sounds vaguely familiar... Ed] It points out that until it nicked Yahoo's model in 2008, Facebook was considered one of the worst performing Internet sites for advertising.  The court documents claim that everything that has made Facebook successful is based on Yahoo patents.

Yahoo's patents relate to messaging, news feed generation, social commenting, advertising display, preventing click fraud, and privacy controls. In fact Yahoo only claims that Facebook is using one of its “social networking” patents.  Patent #7,747,648 which is "World modeling using a relationship network with communication channels to entities."  That should cover Facebook's news feed and user walls, but the court documents say that the patent is specifically violated by Facebook Pages and Groups. 
It is mostly patents like  #7,269,590: "Method and system for customizing views of information associated with a social network user" which are being targeted by the Yahoo case.  It seems the logic of the case is that such technology helped tart up Facebook so that it was viable.

Another one was Patent #7,406,501: "System and method for instant messaging using an e-mail protocol" which covers a system for letting instant messaging users exchange messages with e-mail users. Facebook ads also violates Patent #6,907,566, #7,100,111, and #7,373,599: "Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage."  These patents were bought by Yahoo when it snapped up  Overture Services, in 2003. There are other patents that Yahoo has thrown into the arena and Facebook promises to defend itself.  It would have too.  Some of these patents if upheld by any court could force the social notworking site to have to give large sums of cash to Yahoo.

Facebook appears to be playing the hurt partner in this case. It told Ars Technica that it was disappointed that a longtime business partner and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has turned troll. However what is more likely is that Facebook has popped downstairs to its patent vault and seen what it has that it can use on Yahoo. The fact that it has its chum Microsoft as a financial partner could help Facebook. Equally though Microsoft might not want to get involved as it has strong links to Yahoo too.

Nick Farrell

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