Yahoo on Monday filed suit against partner and fellow Internet giant Facebook, accusing Facebook of infringing on 10 of Yahoo's patents related to technology that helps a company gain revenue from free services offered via the Internet.
The lawsuit, a copy of which was sent to CRN by Yahoo, was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.
In the lawsuit, Yahoo is asking the court to stop Facebook from using technology covered by the patents which it allegedly infringed. Yahoo is also asking that Facebook pay all damages related to the alleged infringements, as well as related interest and costs.
Yahoo, in a statement e-mailed to CRN, said, “Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed. These technologies are the foundation of our business that engages over 700 million monthly unique visitors and represent the spirit of innovation upon which Yahoo! is built. Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court. We are confident that we will prevail.”
Facebook, in a statement e-mailed to CRN related to the lawsuit, indicated that it first found out about the lawsuit via media reports.
"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. Once again, we learned of Yahoo's decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions," Facebook wrote in its statement.
In the lawsuit, Yahoo wrote that many of its technological innovations are related to helping successful websites offer services to customers free-of-charge while providing a way to gain revenue through advertising. "
"To build a successful website, users need to have easy access to many functions and tasks such as messaging and privacy options. The website owner needs revenue through functions such as advertising. All of these functions involve Yahoo!'s innovations. Without Yahoo!'s achievements, websites such as Facebook would not enjoy repeat visitors or substantial advertising revenue," Yahoo wrote in the lawsuit.
Of the 10 lawsuits which Yahoo alleges were infringed upon by Facebook, four are related to generating advertisements specific to user tastes and monitoring advertisements for click fraud, two are related to customizing how information is shared for user privacy purposes, two are related to customizing the user's experience, one is related to developing social networks, and one is related to the use of various types of messaging to communicate between users.
In its lawsuit, Yahoo noted that Facebook was launched 10 years after Yahoo, and has grown to become "one of the most widely trafficked sites on the Internet."
However, Yahoo alleged that Facebook's growth was based in large part on Facebook's use of Yahoo's patented technology, and wrote that Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the past conceded that Facebook's design was not novel.
Yahoo wrote, "(Zuckerberg) has stated, 'The thing that's been really surprising about the evolution of Facebook--I think then and I think now--that if we didn't do this someone else would have done it.' In Mr. Zuckerberg's view, 'Getting there first is not what it's all about.'"