One of the most vital responsibilities of a business is to protect its intellectual property and to act against those who infringe upon it. At the same time, however, those who are accused of infringing upon the intellectual property of another may well believe that the claim has no merit. In a case that may interest California readers, this was most recently put on display when Yahoo accused Facebook of patent infringement.
Although Yahoo is not disclosing the number of patents that it believes Facebook is infringing upon, it has said that it believes the popular social networking site is violating patents relating to how to handle user data. The company informed Facebook of the possible infringement through an e-mailed statement, and it is requesting that Facebook pay licensing fees. If the social network fails to do this, then Yahoo has threatened to press its claim in court.
Facebook has said that it is looking into the matter. In a similar 2004 case involving Google and Yahoo, Google chose to settle with Yahoo over patent infringement claims by giving Yahoo 2.7 million shares in Google. At the moment, Facebook is preparing for an initial public offering in May, though, whether or not it is considering settling with Yahoo is not yet known.
Claims of intellectual property violations are complex legal matters that do not necessarily yield themselves to a cut-and-dry conclusion. Across California, companies routinely deal with copyright, trademark and patent infringement. In this case, As Yahoo and Facebbok engage in a legal tussle, the issue will certainly be worth watching.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Yahoo accuses Facebook of patent infringement, threatens to sue,” Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Feb. 28, 2012