Facebook is being sued over their “like” button as well as other features of the social network.
The lawsuit is coming from a patent-holding company, which is acting for a dead Dutch programmer, Joannes Jozef Everadus Van Der Meer.
The BBC reports that the company, Rembrandt Social Media, claims that Facebook’s success is at least partially based on its use of two patents Van Der Meer held.
Lawyer Tom Melsheimer from Fish and Richardson, which is representing the patent holder, stated:
“We believe Rembrandt’s patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence.”
Van Der Meer was granted the patents in 1998, though they are now owned by Rembrandt. Van Der Meer used the patents to build a social network called Surfbook before he passed away in 2004.
Sky News notes that, along with the “Like” button, the lawsuit also claims that the Dutch programmer created the idea for a “wall,” “timeline,” and “news feed” before Facebook ever existed. Court papers say that one patent “claimed a novel technology that gave ordinary people … the ability to create and use what Van Der Meer called a personal diary.”
The programmer set up a company called Aduna to commercialize his inventions. He also registered the surfbook.com website and put a pilot system in place. But he passed away before the website was officially launched.
Now his widow and the rest of his family are looking for unspecified damages for Facebook’s alleged patent infringement. Facebook is no stranger to lawsuits for alleged intellectual property infringement. Few of those lawsuits have been successful.
[Image by original uploader was Dry Martini at it.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]