New Facebook Patent Lawsuit Over Like Button

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

In a non-surprising turn of events, one group doesn’t quite like the idea of Facebook using a “Like” button, so much so they are suing the world’s largest social network over it.

According to the lawsuit, a patent-holding company is suing Facebook, acting on behalf of a dead Dutch programmer known as Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer, reports BBC News.

Facebook has been sued numerous times for its mere existence, including the infamous lawsuit brought on by the Winklevoss twins and made popular by the motion picture “The Social Network.”

Rembrandt Social Media claims Facebook was using two of Van Der Meer’s patents, granted in 1998, without permission.

“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,” said lawyer Tom Melsheimer from legal firm Fish and Richardson, which represents the patent holder, in a recent press statement.

The company owns patents that had belonged to Van Der Meer, which the Dutch programmer used to build a social network called Surfbook back in 2004. The social network was a diary that allowed people to share information, and included a “like” button to allow people to confidently let the other one know, virtually, they liked their posting.

According to the court filings, Facebook was aware it was ripping off Van Der Meer’s patents because it cited them in its own applications.

Rembrandt Social Media opened up the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The company is being represented by a law firm with a deep reputation, Fish & Richardson. This firm has had past clients such as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the Wright Brothers.

The company says Facebook bears a lot of resemblance, when speaking of functionality and technical implementation, to Surfbook. For example, the gargantuan social network allows its users to share personal information in a chronological format, similar to Van Der Meer’s site.

Facebook also allows people to click the “like” button, similar to what Van Der Meer had first thought up and patented five years before Mark Zuckerberg’s social network got off the ground.

“The way the patent laws work, and have worked for 200 years, is that when someone else uses it–whether intentionally or unintentionally–they owe a reasonable royalty,” Rembrandt’s lawyer, Tom Melsheimer, told Ars Technica.

Just recently, Facebook was able to avoid a class action lawsuit from users complaining about seeing their name and picture on advertisements without their consent. Back in December, redOrbit reported about Facebook agreeing to pay out $20 million to users who filed a complaint regarding the company using their identity in Sponsored Stories.