INTERNET PORTAL Yahoo is wading into what seems like an open season for software patent litigation in the US with the announcement that it is suing Facebook for alleged patent infringement.
Yahoo has sued the social network in a California court alleging that it is infringing 10 Yahoo patents that pertain to advertising, online privacy management and social networking.
"We're disappointed that Yahoo, a long-time business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation," Facebook said in a statement.
The Silicon Valley Mercury News reported that the 19-page complaint filed at the San Jose federal courthouse said Facebook has infringed 10 patents that Yahoo obtained over the past decade for software used to create and sell online advertising as well as technology used in online messaging, customizing content for individual web site visitors and protecting visitors' privacy.
Yahoo did not mince words in its complaint, arguing that Facebook was one of the worst performing web sites on the interweb in terms of online advertising until it began to use technology covered by the disputed patents.
"The suit also argues that Yahoo has suffered 'irreparable harm' by losing a share of the advertising market to Facebook while the latter was 'free riding on Yahoo's intellectual property'," the Mercury News reported. In addition to financial damages, the lawsuit requests a court injunction to block Facebook from using Yahoo's inventions.
The legal action comes a month after Yahoo demanded that Facebook pay to license the disputed patents. Facebook said at the time that it had no intention to agree to such a deal, adding that it would defend itself robustly against any lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes at an awkward time for Facebook, which is preparing to go public. Facebook's initial public offering (IPO) is expected to value the firm somewhere between $75bn and $100bn while bringing in $10bn for the firm. That will trump Google's IPO that raised $1.9bn and valued the company at $23bn. µ