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April 3, 2012 8:27 pm
Facebook on Tuesday fired back against a wide-ranging patent lawsuit from Yahoo, alleging infringement of ten of its own patents as the relationship between the former internet partners turned increasingly bitter.
The latest claim, lodged in the Federal court in San Francisco, indicated that, though it still has relatively few patents to its name, Facebook believes it has been able to file or buy enough key pieces of intellectual property to retaliate aggressively against attack from a more established player like Yahoo.
Among issues raised by Facebook’s claim, the patents cover a core feature of Yahoo’s online advertising system that enables it to personalise adverts, accounting for what Facebook said was a large part of the internet portal company’s revenues.
“While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation,” Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said in a statement.
Yahoo’s attack, which was seen as part of an effort by new chief executive Scott Thompson to boost revenues at the struggling company, echoed a similar assault made against Google in the run-up to that company’s initial public offering eight years ago. However, while Google quickly agreed a settlement with Yahoo to head off any complications to its IPO, Facebook, which is planning its own Wall Street debut for next month, has dug in.
Yahoo called the Facebook claims “without merit and nothing more than a cynical attempt to distract from the weakness of its defense.” It added: “Other leading companies license these technologies, and Facebook must do the same or change the way it operates.”
Four of the ten patents listed in Facebooks’ counter-suit date from 2001-2002, before the company was formed. Of the others, one was issued by the US patent office on Tuesday, the same day that the legal action was filed, according to the Facebook lawsuit.
Facebook has moved to amass a battery of patents to protect itself from legal attack, most recently with the purchase last month of 750 patents from IBM to add to a portfolio that numbered only 56. It had earlier bought what are considered to be some of the key patents in social networking from Friendster, an early leader in the industry.
Among its claims, Facebook said that Yahoo infringed on its intellectual property with its so-called “Core” system for personalising and targeting to users of its services. Yahoo could not immediately be reached for comment.
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