Yahoo warns Facebook may infringe 16 patents with open source

Yahoo has warned Facebook that the social networking giant allegedly infringes on 16 more patents. This time, the patents are about open source technology used in Facebook data centers and servers.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

When Facebook amended its initial public offering (IPO) filing the second time, the third time, and the fourth time, the company kept updating it with new information about Yahoo's legal threats. Facebook today amended its IPO a fifth time and released its IPO prospectus. Sure enough, Facebook has more to warn about the Yahoo threat.

Here's the relevant excerpt:

Yahoo could in the future assert additional patent or other claims against us in this or in other proceedings. For example, we received a letter dated April 23, 2012 from Yahoo indicating that they believe 16 patents they claim to hold "may be relevant" to open source technology they allege is being used in our data centers and servers. Yahoo has not threatened or initiated litigation with respect to matters described in this letter but it may do so in the future.

The letter in question is embedded above. Facebook has responded to it by saying it has no plans to back down.

"Yahoo's letter takes aim not just at Facebook but at open source and energy-efficient green technologies developed and employed by countless innovative, forward-thinking companies and engineers," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We're defending vigorously against Yahoo’s current lawsuit, and would likewise do so against any new assertions."

The disputed patent total is currently at 22: first 10 Yahoo patents, then 10 Facebook patents, and finally two more Yahoo patents. Will we see that number jump to 36? I think Facebook will add more patents to its side of the battle first: some of its own, some of the patents it bought from IBM, and some AOL patents it's buying from Microsoft.

The first slew patents Yahoo used in its legal attack against Facebook were regarding Web technologies. Now, Yahoo is considering doing the same for patents it has regarding Web infrastructure, including a lot of the open source technologies that run it. In other words, Yahoo is insisting that since it was on the Internet first, it not only invented the Web that users see in their browsers, but the underlying hardware that powers it as well.

See also:

Editorial standards