Is the Facebook 'Like' illegal?
MANILA, Philippines - Facebook is facing yet another legal action for allegedly infringing patents on technology developed by Jos van der Meer over a decade ago.
The patent-holding company Rembrandt Social Media, working together with the family of the deceased developer, said that van der Meer's two patents "represent an important foundation" of Facebook. A lawsuit for unspecified damages was filed in federal court in Virginia on Monday, February 11.
One patent allowed the users to "collect personal information and third-party content, organise the information chronologically on a personalised web page and share the information with a selected group of people, such as the user's friends, through the use of user-settable privacy levels."
The second patent is similar to the functions of the “Like” and “Share” buttons: "the automatic transfer, at a user's request, of third-party content from a content provider's website to the user's personal diary page."
Van der Meer was working on a web-based social diary called Surfbook when he was granted the patents in 1998 — 5 years before Facebook appeared.
The claim alleges that Facebook "bears a remarkable resemblance, both in terms of its functionality and technical implementation, to the personal web page diary that van der Meer had invented years earlier."
Facebook has not commented on the case.
Another target of the charges is AddThis, a social bookmarking site.
Rembrandt chairman Paul Schneck said, "Facebook and AddThis are using the ideas disclosed in Jos’s patents without permission or payment. Through this litigation, Rembrandt Social Media hopes to recover payment for the unauthorized usage of patents by Facebook and AddThis.”
The family of the computer scientist, including his widow, asked for the help of Rembrandt, a group that works with authors to fight companies that use patented creations without payment.
Rembrandt denied accusations that it is a "patent troll," a firm set up only to gather royalties. It contended that Facebook was aware of van der Meer's creation as the social network cited it in some of its own patent applications.
Last year, the social networking juggernaut had a series of acquisitions for its patent portfolio to prevent likely charges in the future. It has been a target of a string of lawsuits for alleged intellectual property violations, but only a few have been successful. - Rappler.com