Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has faced its share of patent-infringement lawsuits over the years, from legitimate companies like Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) as well as so called “patent trolls,” but we’re pretty sure you not heard of a patent lawsuit like this.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is being sued by a dead Dutchman.
This is a story about computer scientist Joannes Van Der Meer, who received a couple of patents regarding what are called “online diaries,” which Van Der Meer is credited with pioneering. He started on his concept in the early 2000s, and even registered the web site “www.surfbook.com,” but passed away in 2004 before his work could get off the ground, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) came into being in 2003.
Tom Melsheimer, attorney for Rembrandt Social Media – the company that currently owns the two patents – said about Van Der Meer’ invention, “He really created the concept of a diary on the Internet. To describe it in a general way, he had the notion of being able to publish and share information with a select group of people and the ability to link in other types of information. It was the beginnings of what we would say is social networking.”
Thought Facebook showed up before Van Der Meer’s passing, the complaint stated that “it 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.” It even went on to address Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) advertising driving most of its revenue, and that specific business model is referred to in one of the patents. The “share” or “like” button featured by Facebook is also claimed as being a Van Der Meer invention in the complaint.
As the last bit of information, the complaint claims that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) was aware of at least one of the patents, because the company specifically referred to it in one of its patent filings in 2012.
What do you think about this? Is this just another opportunistic lawsuit, or can this be legitimate? If is legitimate, how would this affect the future fo Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) if it has to pay royalties as are being requested? We’d like your thoughts in the comments section below.
DISCLOSURE: I own no positions in any stocks mentioned.
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