Mitel sues Facebook over two patents

Mitel sues Facebook over two patents

Summary: Mitel Networks has sued Facebook for allegedly infringing on two of its patents. Like Yahoo, Mitel is a public company. This new trend doesn't bode well for Facebook, especially pre-IPO.

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TOPICS: Patents, Legal
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Late last week, Canadian unified communications solutions company Mitel Networks filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the social networking has infringed on two of its patents. Facebook is sued over patents all the time, but they rarely happen by publicly listed companies (that's why Yahoo's attack is such a big deal). Mitel is listed on NASDAQ with a $186.53 million market cap, at the time of writing.

Here are the two patents in question:

  • U.S. Patent No. 5940834 — “ Automatic web page generator”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7292685 — “ Pro-active features for telephony”

In its filing, Mitel said it originally sent a letter about the infringements to Facebook in July 2011, and then again in September 2011. Mitel says it never received a response, and so it responded with a lawsuit, from which it seeks the following:

  • A judgment that the '834 patent and '685 patent have been infringed by Facebook.
  • A judgment that Facebook's infringement of the '834 patent and the '685 patent has been willful.
  • Awarding Mitel damages adequate to compensate for the infringement, pre- and post-judgment interest as allowed by law, costs, and all other damages permitted by 35 U.S.C. § 284, including enhanced damages as a result of Facebook's willful infringement.
  • An accounting for any infringing sales not presented at trial and awarding Mitel additional damages for any such infringing sales.
  • Declaring that this case is an exceptional one under 35 U.S.C. § 285, and awarding Mitel its reasonable attorneys' fees.
  • Permanently enjoining Facebook and its officers, agents, servants, employees, affiliates, representatives, successors and assigns, attorneys, and any others acting in concert with Facebook, from further infringement, inducement and contributory infringement of the '834 patent and '685 patent.
  • Awarding Mitel such further, necessary and proper relief as this Court may deem just and reasonable.

"Mitel has filed a lawsuit against Facebook in the U.S. District Court of Delaware, alleging infringement of two Mitel patents," a Mitel spokesperson said in a statement. "Mitel actively licenses its patents and protecting our IP is a fundamental part of our business. Available details are contained in the complaint. As the matter is now before the court, we will not be elaborating further at this point."

I have contacted Facebook and will update you if I hear back.

Update at 8:45 AM PST: Facebook declined to comment on this article.

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Topics: Patents, Legal

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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4 comments
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  • Absurd

    I'm not going to take the time to try and figure out what that second patent supposedly covers (with all its talk of "tupple spaces") but that first Patent is absurd. It pretends to cover the dynamic generation of wab content based on information stored in a database. These guys could basically claim ownership to the entire internet with that patent (now that yahoo shut down Geocities).

    Just more proof that the Patent Office's decision to allow software and business method patents was a ridiculous decision that generated a stampede to go out and patent every ridiculously obvious idea under the Sun.
    dsf3g
    • Mitel Patent Pre-Dates Geocities

      A patent only covers what is set forth in the claims, and to infringe, each and every step of a claim must be performed by an infringer. So the scope of Mitel's patents is not "the entire internet." Also, the Mitel patent pre-dates Geocities.
      ladysugar
      • if that's the case...

        Geocities and Yahoo had a "directory" listing but since Mitel never sued them for infringement, wouldn't they lose their patent because they failed to act on other infringement for so long?


        Also, 5940834 seems like a stretch especially with so much prior art (CGI anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Gateway_Interface and Directory Indexes from webservers; Apache HTTP server started in 1995)
        MoFoQ
  • Amazing!

    Those who don't have a patent are always criticising the companies who have spent the time and money to obtain a patent! The engine that drives Facebook is not Zuckerbergs! It has already been proven in court that he "infringed" (copied!) another patent. (see Leader v. Facebook Case No. 2011-1366 (Fed. Cir.) and http://www.donnaklinenow.com
    It is about time for Facebook to get out of everybody else's cookie jar!
    bg761