Yahoo is suing Facebook for patent infringement, charging that the social media behemoth stole several of Yahoo’s ideas to become the billion-dollar company it is today.
Facebook’s growth “has been based in large part on Facbeook’s use of Yahoo’s patented technology,” the lawsuit alleges.
“For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo got there first and was therefore granted patents by the United States Patent Office to protect those innovations.”
In the filing, made in a San Jose District Court, Yahoo claims Facebook took 10 of its patents, four of which relate to advertising, two to privacy, two to customization, one to social networking and one to messaging.
Yahoo’s filing recounts the company’s history, in particular its innovations. It filed for its first patent in 1997, and, according to Yahoo, has been at the forefront of online messaging, generation of news feeds, social commenting, advertising display and click fraud prevention.
"We're disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation,” a Facebook spokesman told TheWrap. “Once again, we learned of Yahoo's decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions."
Indeed, Facebook and Yahoo have worked together to combine Yahoo’s content with Facebook’s vast social network, which has grown to more than 850 million since it was launched in February 2004.
Yet based on the complaints, it would appear Facebook has been violating these patents or some time. Why is came about now is unclear, and a Yahoo spokeswoman has not yet responded to a request for comment.
This is one of the first major actions taken by Yahoo's new CEO, Scott Thompson, and it also comes as Facebook is gearing up for its first initial public offering.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.