Yahoo shutting down Facebook with mega lawsuit

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) tries shutting down Facebook. It's suing over alleged infringement of ten patents. Yahoo claims it invented many of the techniques that Facebook uses to run its eponymous, ubiquitous, cloud-computing social network. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers weigh up the merits of the case.

By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: How homeopathy works...

    Nancy Gohring reports:

"Facebook's entire social network based on Yahoo's patented social networking technology," Yahoo wrote in the lawsuit. ... The suit describes several Facebook features...[including] Facebook's News Feed...the way Facebook handles privacy...the format of many ads...the way Facebook displays and arranges ads and combats click fraud.


Facebook said it was surprised by the move. ... "We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions." ... The strategy echoes Yahoo's decision to sue Google just before that company filed for its IPO. ... Onlookers thought Google settled that dispute [to avoid] legal action when it went public.   

     Kara Swisher adds:

[It] pit[s] Yahoo against a company that has surpassed it handily in recent years in regards to popularity among consumers. ... Yahoo...adds that Facebook has been “free riding” on [its] intellectual property and that royalty payments alone will not suffice.


Yahoo want[s]...Triple damages and to enjoin Facebook from operating by using said patents. ... Yahoo is seeking to right itself under new CEO Scott Thompson [who] is primarily driving this new aggressiveness.   

Jeff Roberts analyzes the ten patents (here are just four):

Based on our reading, Yahoo may now own all of Silicon Valley. ...

  • 7454509 Online playback system with community bias. ... A music station based on what you and your friends listen to. ...
  • 7599935 Control for enabling a user to preview display of selected content based on another user’s authorization level. ... Share an item only with selected friends. ...
  • 5983227 Dynamic Page Generator. ... A customized homepage. ...
  • 7668861 System and method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network. ... Using visitor data to screen for spam or fake users.   

But Greg Sterling counts the cost:

Yahoo likely sees a potentially large opportunity. ... The timing is inconvenient for Facebook, which is about to go public...[but it's] quite calculated by Yahoo.


Many if not most of the claims probably have merit. ... The IPO puts more pressure on Facebook to settle in the near term.   

And Matt Rosoff seeks the Redmond angle:

Fortunately, Facebook...has a big powerful friend: Microsoft.


Microsoft bought a 1.6% stake in Facebook back in 2007. ... Microsoft is also a strategic partner: Bing uses Facebook's social data...and Facebook integrates Skype video calling.


[N]othing is preventing Microsoft from selling or donating some...patents to Facebook, then stepping back and watching the fireworks.   

    And Finally...
How homeopathy works

[hat tip: Torben Gundtofte-Bruun]

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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch, for which he has won ASBPE and Neal awards. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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