As Yahoo struggles to keep up with younger competitors, the Web portal company is weighing a new tactic: threatening legal action over its patent holdings. Yahoo is seeking to force Facebook into licensing 10 to 20 patents over technologies that include advertising, the personalization of Web sites, social networking and messaging, people briefed on the matter told DealBook. The two companies spoke on Monday to discuss the issue, with Yahoo contending that Facebook is infringing on 10 to 20 patents, according to these people, who were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. Yahoo is asking Facebook to pay licensing fees or risk facing a lawsuit. "Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property," a Yahoo spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. "We mus
Facebook May Trail Yahoo, Other Rivals in Race for Patents
Facebook runs the world’s most popular social-networking service, with more than 800 million active users. But the California company isn’t nearly as far ahead in locking up intellectual property rights — and may even trail rivals such as Yahoo in a patents race.
That’s the conclusion of Maulin Shah, an intellectual property lawyer by training, who now runs Envision IP Inc. in New York. In a blog post released this week, Shah and a colleague, S. Farhan Mustafa, comb through patent portfolios of a half-dozen leading technology companies. They conclude: Facebook “has a relatively small patent portfolio.”
Who else is a factor? The Envision IP analysts start with Yahoo, calculating that it has nearly 900 patents related to search algorithms and search engine monetization. They also draw attention to Microsoft and IBM, tallying about 80 patents apiece related to file sharing, messaging, and back-end infrastructure for social networks and collaborative online communications.
Google, in turn, has 25 patents and 40 applications related to social networking, the Envision IP analysts say, including one that was filed in 2004, when Facebook was still just a dorm-room project. Even Apple earns notice for a flurry of patents related to mobile social networking.
Facebook lately has been putting down a lot of markers on its own behalf. In its initial public offering documents, Facebook said it already holds 53 patents in the U.S. related to social networking and has applications for another 503. The Envision IP analysts don’t find nearly as many applications yet in the Patent Office’s public files, suggesting that Facebook has submitted many of its applications in the past 18 months, when they aren’t yet likely to be made public.
Aware of the importance of early, seemingly fundamental patents — even if they weren’t fully put to use, Facebook in 2010 acquired Friendster’s social networking patent portfolio from MOL Global. The Envision IP analysts call that move “very strategic,” ensuring that no rival could end up with those patents and later assert them against Facebook.
Big tech companies are famous for their patent jousts, and Facebook dutifully acknowledged this in the risk factors section of its IPO prospectus. The company wrote: “We are currently, and expect to be in the future, party to patent lawsuits and other intellectual property rights claims that are expensive and time-consuming.”
This is really timely considering Augme's suit against Yahoo which surely must include some form of ongoing dialogue which I'd presume has thoroughly now educated Yahoo on their entire patent portfolio, patents pending etc., and most importantly the simple important fact that Facebook is likely a major infringer.
Equally as interesting is the fact that Augme surely must have some ties or contacts within Facebook considering their advisor Jeff Jaffrey's is said to be partnered in his new fund with a founder of the company. Jaffrey's also has strong ties with Google.
So here the timing of Yahoo's attack on FB couldn't be more interesting when one considers that Yahoo could use Augme's IP to further their pursuit against FB. To the contrary, if FB owned Augme's IP, they could use it as a strong shield against such attack.
Most interesting, there are approximately 100 current patent infringement suits filed against FB from other company's asserting their patents for infringement. My research indicates a probability that as many as 75-90% of those cases could likely be alleviated by FB owning Augme's patents or having license to them. Augme's IP literally would knock out the majority of these infringement cases against FB with it's 99 filing, 2003 issuance date of it's first patent.
It's all getting interesting, more than we could likely possibly know at the moment.
It may just be me but it seems like you are trying to create or imply more than is going on. I just don't think so. I'm not even sure there is even a settlement agreement with Lucid. Over a month has passed and there is no annourcement. It leads me to believe an agreement if any, will not be meaningful at all. Market is treating it as such. GLTA