It has been revealed this week that Facebook is now facing legal claims by Yahoo over patent infringement, with Yahoo demanding that Facebook pay them licensing fees in order to use their technology. This is a new move by the struggling technology giant which has, in recent years, lost ground over the new players in the industry.
It was reported earlier this week that the companies’ representatives had met to discuss the claims by Yahoo. Their claims center around patents relating to news feeds, messages, control of privacy and advertising used by the social network. It is the latest of a number of rows over patent claims that are causing constant court battles between the world’s technology giants. Up until now the majority have been between Samsung, Apple and other large companies, but the claim by Yahoo looks set to bring the row into the worlds of social media and the internet.
Facebook commented on the row this week that they have not yet had a chance to examine the claims by Yahoo, but did note that Yahoo contacted the New York Times at the same time they contacted Facebook. It has not been revealed yet exactly how much Yahoo is asking for. All that they would say is that they had a responsibility to their employees, shareholders and stakeholders and they would protect their intellectual property vigorously.
Should they press ahead with their claims it would be seen as a massive escalation in the war for patent rights between technology giants. Motorola, Google, HTTC, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple have already had their own fair share of battles but this would open up a whole new arena, particularly coming, as it does, after recent estimates as to the value of Facebook ahead of its first public offering – estimates which value the company somewhere around the $100 billion mark.
A number of social networks and networking firms have seen a massive rise in the claims being made against them for patent infringement in recent months, especially as they all start to get on board the process for IPO. However, most of these claims have previously been from what are known as patent aggregators – groups of investors who purchase a load of patents in order to be able to squeeze out some value from them via profitable licensing deals. Yahoo’s claim is the first time that a company of their kind has been the party claiming infringement.
James is a business blogger and writer, who writes about everything from business equipment to business technology and from contractor tax to umbrella companies.