Remember last month when Yahoo sued Facebook over 10 patents and the tech industry piled on the online giant? Well, now that Facebook has countersued Yahoo with its own 10 patents, I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to learn the tech industry is backing Facebook more than ever.
First up is Yammer CEO David Sacks who, after Yahoo filed its lawsuit, declared he won't hire anyone from Yahoo that doesn't quit in the next two months. Then he followed up with a monetary incentive: a $25,000 signing bonus for any Yahoo employee who joins Yammer in the next 60 days. Now that Facebook has filed its own lawsuit, Sacks told CNET whose side he's on:
Definitely Facebook. Yahoo is the aggressor. Its lawsuit is highly opportunistic. It's basically a shakedown on the eve of Facebook's initial public offering, and they're acting the same way a patent troll would. Yahoo would probably be better-served if it shut down all of its operations and became a patent troll. Reading between the lines of Facebook's statement, it's obvious that it feels that it would be better that both sides drop their suits, and that it would rather not be in this position.
Y Combinator Founder Paul Graham seems to agree:
The Valley and the hacker community generally seem to be on Facebook's side. I'm impressed that Facebook is fighting back instead of settling to make the IPO easier, as companies so often do, and as Yahoo probably expected it to. It shows how confident Facebook is about its IPO. Yahoo has clumsily picked a fight with an opponent that is a lot fiercer than it realized.
Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon detailed Facebook's four options (settle, defend without countersuing, countersue, and countersue while also signaling aversion to patent lawsuits) in a post titled "Facebook's response to Yahoo's patent lawsuit." He believes Facebook's decision to do the last thing was the decision to do the right thing:
Like many in tech, I believe all software patents should be abolished. That said, I think Facebook made the right move by filing a lawsuit against Yahoo's patent attack. Countersuing gives Facebook the best chance of fending off Yahoo's lawsuit – and therefore not rewarding patent lawsuits. And signaling they are only doing so in response to Yahoo (hence might drop the suit if Yahoo does) keeps them on the right side of innovation.
Now the question is: will the two companies settle, or will one prevail over the other?