Facebook Facing Legal Action For ‘Like’ Button Over Patent Claim

 

 

The social media community has varied reactions over the news that Facebook is being sued for using the “Like” button which was already patented five years before Facebook launched. The “Like” button patent belongs to a dead Dutch programmer named Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer, now represented by patent-holding company Rembrandt Social Media which now owns patents for technologies Mr. Van Der Meer used to build a fledgling social network called “Surfbook” before Mr. Van Der Meer died in 2004. The patent was granted to Mr. Van Der Meer in 1998, six years before his death, and five years before Facebook was launched.

Rembrandt claims that the success of Facebook is based, in part, on using two of Mr. Van Der Meer’s patents without permission. It claims further that Facebook is aware of the patents as evidenced by the citation made on the patent applications made by Facebook for some of its social networking technologies. Upon the death of Mr. Van Der Meer, the patent rights went to the patent-holding company Rembrandt.

Reports have it that the Dutch programmer Mr. Van Der Meer invented the ‘Like’ button as part of a social diary application called “Surfbook” which appeared before Facebook was introduced to the market. Surfbook was a social diary that allows people to share information with family and friends and approve some data using the “Like” button. This was according to the legal papers filed by Fish and Richardson, representing Rembrandt Social Media. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Virginia on February 5th, 2013. According to Rembrandt, the legal action is carried out on behalf of Mr. Van Der Meer’s widow.

The lawsuit was based on the fact that the patents represent an important foundation of social media. The “Like” button as used by Facebook has become synonymous with social media content and is considered a great contributor in the popularity of Facebook among social media users. The legal paperwork notes that the “Like” button of Facebook has a remarkable and undisputable resemblance to the patent granted to Mr. Van Der Meer in terms of technical implementation and functionality.

Facebook, in the meantime is quiet about the issue and made no comment on the lawsuit or its claims. Several lawsuits of this kind, most of which have not been successful have been encountered and faced by the giant social media network.

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