Financial News

  • 12 February 2013, 10:35

Facebook Sued Over 'Like' Button Patent

Facebook is being sued over claims its 'like' button infringes technology patented by a Dutch computer programmer 15 years ago.

Rembrandt Social Media says the social networking site "bears a remarkable resemblance, both in terms of its functionality and technical implementation" to a concept invented by Joannes (Jos) van der Meer before his death in 2004.

As well as the like or 'share' button, it claims Mr van der Meer came up with the idea for a 'wall', 'timeline' and 'news feed' - three features that are central to Facebook.

Defence lawyer Tom Melsheimer said: "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."

The suit for unspecified damages claims Facebook's infringement of two related patents filed by Mr van der Meer, who is described as "a pioneer in the development of user-friendly web-based technologies", in 1998.

One patent "claimed a novel technology that gave ordinary people... the ability to create and use what Van der Meer called a personal diary," court papers said.

Mr van der Meer set up a company called Aduna to commercialise his inventions, registered the surfbook.com website, and launched a pilot system, but died in 2004.

The inventor's family, including his widow, enlisted the help of Rembrandt, which says it works to help inventors and patent owners enforce their fights against companies that use their inventions without paying for them.

The suit notes that one of Facebook's own patents cited one of the Dutchman's patents and so the company was aware of the infringement.

"Although Mark Zuckerberg did not start what became Facebook until 2003, it bears a remarkable resemblance, both in terms of its functionality and technical implementation, to the personal web page diary that van der Meer had invented years earlier," court documents said.

Facebook has been targeted by a swathe of lawsuits for alleged intellectual property infringement, but few have been successful.

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