Yahoo sued Facebook in mid-March, claiming that Facebook’s entire social networking model is based on social networking technology first patented by Yahoo. Now Facebook is returning the favor and suing Yahoo. In counterclaims filed in federal count in San Francisco today, Facebook accuses Yahoo of infringing on 10 patents via its home page and Flickr photo-sharing service and also through ads found throughout Yahoo’s site on finance, sports, games and shopping services..
Facebook’s countersuit was no surprise, says CNET, as it is “virtually the only way Facebook would have any leveraging power to negotiate a settlement.” In its suit, Facebook alleges that it is the party who has suffered damages and requests that the court award it damages while dismissing Yahoo’s suit.
In its suit against Facebook, Yahoo claimed that Facebook’s practice of targeting ads to users based on their interests was something that Yahoo did first. Yahoo also claimed that Facebook’s social media software infringes its patents on information sharing and privacy. Yahoo is seeking triple damages as well as an injunction against the patents.
While Yahoo owns the most popular portal, it has struggled in the face of Google’s and Facebook’s ascendancy — tomorrow on April 4, Yahoo is expected to announce more layoffs. Google and Facebook have taken users and ad dollars from Yahoo; in February, Facebook filed for an initial public offering and could be valued at $75 billion to $100 billion. Bloomberg notes that, last year, Yahoo lost its top spot in the U.S. market for display advertising to Facebook.
In an email in Bloomberg, Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said that
“While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s shortsighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation.”
While intellectual property experts have seen Yahoo’s suit as just one tech company using the tools — in this case, patents — at its disposal to ensure its survival, Tech Crunch had earlier described Yahoo’s lawsuit as “dastardly, opportunistic, desperate, and frankly anti-Internet.” Are tech companies wasting their time and energy in filing such lawsuits about who was first to create what, rather than working together and devoting themselves to creating more powerful software and other tools to help users make the most of the internet?
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