Yahoo sues Facebook over 10 patents

Yahoo sues Facebook over 10 patents

Summary: Yahoo's talks with Facebook have fallen apart, and the online giant has sued the social networking for patent infringement. Yahoo is attacking Facebook with 10 patents.


As expected, Yahoo today filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook. The online giant is claiming the social networking giant infringes on 10 of its patents. Yahoo is hoping to secure some portion of Facebook's revenues moving forward. "Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed," a Yahoo spokesperson told AllThingsD. "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." Here are the 10 patents in question, courtesy of my colleague Zack Whittaker:
  • U.S. Patent No. 6907566, 7100111, 7373599 — “Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7668861 — “System and method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7269590 — “Method and system for customizing views of information associated with a social network user”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7599935 — “Control for enabling a user to preview display of selected content based on another user’s authorisation level”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7454509 — “Online playback system with community bias”
  • U.S. Patent No. 5983227 — “Dynamic page generator”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7747648 — “World modeling using a relationship network with communication channels to entities”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7406501 — “System and method for instant messaging using an e-mail protocol”
Last month, Yahoo became a patent troll by threatening Facebook with patent war. Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is rumored to be the one to blame, in addition to the massive layoffs he's planning for the company. Now it seems that talks with Facebook have fallen apart, meaning Thompson's first big move is the filing of a massive lawsuit. Last week, Facebook updated its IPO filing, and briefly mentioned its potential legal battle with Yahoo. Menlo Park says it received a letter from Yahoo, claiming that Facebook infringes on 13 of Yahoo's patents, but today's lawsuit shows that Yahoo has reduced the number to 10. At the time, Facebook, which is investigating the claims, said Yahoo had not begun any legal action. More generally, Facebook said it expects the number of lawsuits against it to increase. Here's the relevant excerpt from today's IPO filing update:
We presently are involved in a number of lawsuits, and as we face increasing competition and gain an increasingly high profile, including in connection with our initial public offering, we expect the number of patent and other intellectual property claims against us to grow. For example, on February 27, 2012, we received a letter from Yahoo! Inc. that alleged that a number of our products infringe the claims of 13 of Yahoo's patents. We are still in the process of investigating the allegations contained in the letter. To date, Yahoo has not commenced any legal action against us, but it may do so in the future.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows just how vulnerable a new technology company can be at the hands of an old company when it comes to a patent war. Yahoo has thousands of patents while Facebook has 62, though it's hard to say if Facebook will argue Yahoo infringes on any of them. Some have said Facebook should just buy Yahoo. I have contacted Facebook and will update you if I hear back. Update at 4:45 PM PST: "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," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Once again, we learned of Yahoo's decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions." See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, 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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  • simple solution

    why doesn't facebook simply just buy out yahoo. Its not like their bleeding any money.
    • Because after the Yang fiasco of not taking MSs offer

      privately rumored at $35, any money dumped into Facebook has been a fricken horrible idea. Even Icahn couldn't make it work. It's cheaper for FB even if they lose. YHOO is mysteriously still trading at 14.5 even though it may be on it's way to half that if their search share keeps on it's downward spiral. Next time around MS will probably not be so generous, if they're interested at all. Without that guaranteed search cash that's set to expire yhoo will probably cut a lot more head count and the remaining smart ones will bail just like the big post MS deal brain drain.
      Johnny Vegas
  • nonsense

    patent troll is a company that does nothing with the patents except patent litigation. Yahoo is actively using these patents in their business and R&D. I thought journalists are obligated to provide a carefully validated account of certain events without giving too inflammatory and derogatory assessment of the situation.
    • Journalists?

      I am pretty sure the author of this post is a blogger, not a journalist. And even if not, journalists give inflammatory assessments all the time, regardless of obligations.

      And I'm pretty sure the only active thing Yahoo is doing is dying...
  • This will be SCO redux

    Yahoo will soon be a thing of the past. An unpleasant memory and nothing more.
  • Yahoo stop suing Facebook

    I've started a petition over at that I'm hoping will head off this mess.

    Please consider signing it.

  • the siren song

    This patent infringement will likely take a toll on both Facebook and Yahoo; it's unfortunate to see the patent wars spill over into the social media sphere. Interestingly, Twitter has vowed not to join in the patent wars. Which is intriguing, because compared to Facebook and Yahoo, Twitter is the only company that's not quickly sliding into irrelevance. However, it seems particularly difficult for successful companies to ignore the siren song of patent litigation and monetization; it will be interesting to see how long Twitter manages to hold out against that temptation.