Yahoo filed a lawsuit against Facebook over 10 patents. The list of 10 patents was made public this week, and it includes advertising and online user interaction patents.
This war is different from previous ones, because it might involve a decisive surprise element: Microsoft. In 2009, Yahoo and Microsoft signed a patent share deal that would allow both companies to share each other’s patents, but only the ones related to search, Business Insider says. It might be a small thing for some, but I think this is actually big. Microsoft bought 1.6 percent of Facebook in 2007, and both companies have partnered on several services. It’s possible for Microsoft to save this situation.
Now, let’s see the list of 10 patents:
- US Patent No. 5,983,227 - Dynamic Page Generator patent was filed in 1997 and issued in 1999. It refers to a system that gathers user information (selections) on a server and that server handles the future request that a user might make. Yahoo says in the patent application that this method eliminates the need to make requests from other servers for portions of live data. Live data refers to a custom selection of stock quotes, news headlines, sports scores, weather, and so on.
- US Patent No. 7,454,509 - Online playback system with community bias was filed in 2001 and issued in 2008. It refers things that users from a community might have in common. This type of information allows other users to subscribe and to benefit the preferences that other members of the community expressed.
- US Patent No. 6,907,566 – Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage was filed in 1999 and issued in 2005. It refers to a method and system for placing ads on a page that has the ability to calculate the performance of clicks and compare it to other available ads from the page and see how it’s ranking.
- US Patent No. 7,100,111 – Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage was filed in 1999 and issued in 2006. It’s basically the same patent as the third one, but this time it measures, compares link clicks and displays the links that have more chances to get a “visually prominent position” on the page.
- US Patent No. 7,373,599 - Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage was filed in 1999 and issued in 2008. It refers to a method in which the server automatically arranges ads on a page, calculating which one is more likely to occur and place it more prominently.
- US Patent No. 7,668,861 - System and method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network was filed in 2007 and issued in 2010. This patent classifies (categories) a user based on the interaction it has with a network (clicks performed over the ads).
- US Patent No. 7,269,590 – Method and system for customizing views of information associated with a social network user was filed in 2004 and issued in 2007. It refers to what we call today “sharing options available,” meaning what we want other users to see from our profiles, under several categories.
- US Patent No. 7,406,501 – System and method for instant messaging using an e-mail protocol was filed in 2003 and issued in 2008. This is a method of communicating between two users, one instant messenger and the other one, e-mail user. An e-mail from one user is delivered as an instant message to the other one.
- US Patent No. 7,599,935 – Control for enabling a user to preview display of selected content based on another user’s authorization level was filed in 2005 and issued in 2009. Enables two users to share content based on their relationship. It means that this relationship defines what content a user might access from the other one.
- US Patent No. 7,747,648 – World modeling using a relationship network with communication channels to entities was filed in 2005 and issued in 2010. This patent basically defines the meaning of social network and it encapsulates some of the features we used to see in a social network.
Yahoo existed long before Facebook, but this doesn’t mean that they own the rights to a social network. Some of Yahoo’s patents refer to common things used by 99 percent of the Internet: ads, clicks and server requests.
I’m not sure if Yahoo will be able to win something from Facebook, but I think this lawsuit comes a little late. Since Yahoo had some of these patents years before Facebook, I don’t understand why they didn’t try to sue or discuss this with Facebook. From the complaint for patent infringement, Yahoo wants Facebook to admit they were infringing Yahoo’s patents and pay all damages caused by this infringement.
Facebook responded through a spokesperson :
We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation. Once again, we learned of Yahoo’s decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions.
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