Facebook Hits Back Hard On Yahoo Patent Claims, Countersues Over Its Own Patents: Nuclear War Begins

from the what-a-waste dept

It’s not surprising, after Yahoo sued Facebook and Facebook stocked up on a bunch more patents, that Facebook would respond with guns blazing at Yahoo for the lawsuit. As we’ve been arguing for the better part of a decade, in many cases, patents are basically just nuclear stockpiling, where companies get a ton of patents to hopefully ward off strikes from competitors. But every so often, nuclear war breaks out. It seems like that’s the case here.

Facebook hasn’t just responded to Yahoo’s claims by insisting that they’re totally and completely bogus, it’s also countersuing over a bunch of its own patents. Most of Facebook’s response to Yahoo’s claims are basically that it “denies the allegations” made by Yahoo. Sometimes, however, it takes some potshots.

Facebook admits that messaging and privacy are offered as options on certain websites. Facebook denies that “[w]ithout Yahoo!’s achievements, websites such as Facebook would not enjoy repeat visitors or substantial advertising revenue.” Facebook further denies that the functions identified in this paragraph of the Complaint involved any innovation by Yahoo!.

For defenses, it basically brings out every possible argument. It says it didn’t infringe. It says the patents are invalid. Those are pretty typical. However, Facebook also points out that Yahoo sat on these patents for ages and did nothing with them, so it argues that the doctrine of laches bars the claims (basically saying you can’t wait forever before suing) and similarly that any damages would be limited by the amount of time that Yahoo sat on these patents and did nothing. They’re also using Section 287 of the patent law to argue that Yahoo’s failure to “mark” their inventions as patented severely limits or bars any damages. Basically, every possible defense shows up.

And then come the counterclaims on 10 specific patents, listed here:

  • Patent 7,827,208: Generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network
  • Patent 7,945,653: Tagging digital media
  • Patent 6,288,717: Headline posting algorithm
  • Patent 6,216,133: Method for enabling a user to fetch a specific information item from a set of information items, and a system for carrying out such a method
  • Patent 6,411,949: Customizing database information for presentation with media selections
  • Patent 6,236,978: System and method for dynamic profiling of users in one-to-one applications
  • Patent 7,603,331: System and method for dynamic profiling of users in one-to-one applications and for validating user rules.
  • Patent 8,103,611: Architectures, systems, apparatus, methods, and computer-readable medium for providing recommendations to users and applications using multidimensional data
  • Patent 8,005,896: System for controlled distribution of user profiles over a network
  • Patent 8,150,913: System for controlled distribution of user profiles over a network

It’s worth noting that only the first two of those patents initially started life with Facebook. The others it picked up along the way. Though, it does appear as though that last patent was issued… today. Overall, these patents look just about as silly as most of the ones that Yahoo used to sue in the first place, but that’s the nature of patents these days (especially software patents). Facebook is using what it has to fight back against Yahoo, but the whole thing seems like an incredibly silly waste of time, money and resources for both companies.

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Companies: facebook, yahoo

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Comments on “Facebook Hits Back Hard On Yahoo Patent Claims, Countersues Over Its Own Patents: Nuclear War Begins”

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V (profile) says:

Lesson from the Cold War...

In the Cold War, there were top level spies who didn’t want peace. Why? Because they would lose their money, power and influence.

Same thing now… only it’s the lawyers who gain from mutually assured destruction.

I’m fairly certain that the signers of the Constitution would personally line up the writers of every piece of Copyright and Patent legislation and introduce them to the 2nd amendment.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Just why is it that I recall doing all those things with an IBM mainframe back in the 80s at work? And not thinking anything about it.

Has no one at the patent office heard of things like prior art, originality and all that good stuff that’s supposed to apply to a patent, including things like it can’t be obvious?

Yahoo and Facebook will both apply for patent covering the ability to keep time across a network that will take into account the rotation of planet Earth and additionally claim a patent on the forces of gravitation, strong and weak nuclear forces et al, just to make darned sure they’ve covered everything! 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t have much of an idea about patents, I’m afraid, but I’ll tell you how such tussling makes me feel: there’s no more naked a sign of how little the companies involved care about me as a customer. There was a time when Google and Facebook (for example) felt like they represented a genuinely responsive relationship with me; their advances were my advances, and the whole thing felt flush and beneficial. Now, aside from a clutch of other issues, this cold war makes me feel like a pointless skin-sack unit of money production. Of course, that’s the schematic of how all companies operate, let’s not be so naive, but to have it rubbed in your face is the point when it becomes time to move on. Find some other blossoming little-guys to support, because even if those little guys grow into ogres, I’ll have had the best of them.

Anyway! The patent bunfight may be a billion dollar enterprise, but it also seems to me that it’s where the tragedy of the commons meets the cash-on-the-table principle. I think, for our ongoing society to have any chance of anything worthwhile, it’s these kinds of overlaps that would need to be addressed. There’s a universe of difference between doing something because it represents robust opportunity and lucidly useful role, and another just because you can legally get away hitting someone in the face with shovels until they are forced to give you all of their money.

My grandmother certainly wouldn’t approve, sheesh.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is what happens when you let authored projects or Copyrightable works be patented. Patenting software algorithms is ridiculous. Has anyone looked at Facebooks patents?
They are laughable. The majority of them are nothing but a form on a computer that has some javascript tied to it and then they give it a fancy name saying they did something new with it. Take a look at them, it totally proves that the patent office has no clue and all they want are the exorbitant fees.
Patents and Copyright are simply a Government License to Litigate.

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