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Yahoo Unfriends Facebook With Aggressive Patent Demands 59

Posted by timothy
from the press-1-to-pay-press-2-to-be-sued dept.
theodp writes "'Hate to see something happen to that multi-billion IPO of yours,' is essentially the IPO-threatening message Yahoo sent to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook investors on the eve of the social networking giant's IPO. Yahoo, unlike the Sopranos, is using IP as its muscle to collect its IPO-protection money: 'We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement [for 10-20 Yahoo-owned patents] or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights,' Yahoo explained in a statement alerting the NY Times to its demand. Yahoo issued a similar last-minute threat to Google on the eve of its 2004 IPO, prompting Google to pony up 2.7 million shares to settle Yahoo's patent lawsuit. BTW, should Facebook also be concerned that Amazon has been beefing up its PlanetAll social networking patents from the '90s, including the one issued Tuesday covering a Social Networking System Capable of Notifying Users of Profile Updates Made by Their Contacts?"
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Yahoo Unfriends Facebook With Aggressive Patent Demands

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  • Who should I hate? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:55AM (#39185607) Homepage Journal

    Hmmm... I don't like Yahoo or Facebook.

    I think I'll hate the patents themselves. Another ridiculous patent suit wasting the time and money of the courts.

    • Hmmm... I don't like Yahoo or Facebook.

      I think I'll hate the patents themselves. Another ridiculous patent suit wasting the time and money of the courts.

      Both. There's enough contempt and disdain to go around.

      • See, if Facebook had sneaked around a GPL agreement to make a fortune off of some other developers' software, rather than sneaking around patent laws to make a fortune off some other developers' software, the hivemind would easily concur that Facebook is e-e-e-e-vil.

        Now, it's complicated...

        • by D-Cypell (446534)

          If Facebook had included third party code I would expect them to abide by the terms of the license, commercial or otherwise.

          I find it slightly harder to get all 'wavy fist' when they build something that someone else merely claims to have thought of first.

        • Let's say I make a product and give it a GPL license. If someone modifies and redistributes my code outside of that license then they've done something I don't like /with something I created/.

          Let's say I get a software patent. If someone infringes on that patent then they've done something that doesn't financially benefit me /with something similar to what I thought up/.

          I feel there's a strong distinction there. I made it and only want it used in accordance with my wishes. I thought up a possible result

        • a fortune off some other developers' software,

          Patents aren't software. Do you even write code, or are you just a corporate shill?

          IDIOT

    • Why Choose? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:00PM (#39185647) Homepage Journal
      People often act like there's only one choice in situations like this. Don't you have enough hate in your heart for both? Here, let me show you how it's done:

      I for one hope they destroy each other in an all out mutual-assured-destruction patent war. Then all die of anal warts. I realize that anal warts are not usually life threatening, but we can dream!

      See? That wasn't so hard, was it?

      • by tobiasly (524456)

        I realize that anal warts are not usually life threatening, but we can dream!

        They would be life threatening if they were so massive as to render the victim unable to perform a BM.

      • Then all die of anal warts. I realize that anal warts are not usually life threatening, but we can dream!

        You left out the bit about getting those anal warts on the penis and tongue. Probably a fate worse than death, and which should suit both of them just dandy. And their legions of bloodsuckers^Wlawyers, too.

    • by Tharsman (1364603) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:08PM (#39185745)

      I would say Yahoo. In any argument where someone bring patents into bullying with some crazy timing (like IPO timing... for stuff they pursued others years ago...) the bully loses.

      Also, although I personally dislike Facebook and their disregard for privacy settings, and obsession with tracking, at least there is a bit I admire from them and it's their independence. They are only pursuing the IPO because they are forced to, but Zuckerberg has attempted to keep things indie (huge indie but still indie) all this time.

      Their issue was in granting some... not sure how you call it... profit share? Ownership share? â¦to many early employees that sold all or part of them. As soon as too many people own shares, you must legally do an IPO and go public. So for that at least Zuck has my support even if I refuse to use the services he provides.

      Yahoo is just trying to make it look bad for investors that they are getting into patent trouble. If Zuck refuses to settle and decides to take it to the court, and counter sues for any potential damages, he will get bonus points in my book.

      • by surgen (1145449)

        at least there is a bit I admire from them and it's their independence. They are only pursuing the IPO because they are forced to, but Zuckerberg has attempted to keep things indie (huge indie but still indie) all this time.

        Facebook stopped being indie years and years ago (issuing shares, taking VC cash). Since then its all been carefully managed image and branding. He was never forced to IPO, its just his chickens coming home to roost.

      • to many early employees that sold all or part of them. As soon as too many people own shares, you must legally do an IPO and go public

        No, you must legally disclose your corporate financials. If you're going to be forced to divulge that level of information, it only makes sense to have an IPO and raise some capital for investment. Unless of course you are hell bent on controlling the company. You cannot force a company to IPO, only to go public with its books.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        interestingly their refusal to go public this long is something that has made me like them a lot less. Now that they're going public, and Zuck is going to keep 60% of the control makes me hate them even more. Even Bill Gates only kept 49% of the control.

        If you're that big of an outfit and not going public you're either denying the people who built the company a piece of the pie, or trying to be a control freak (or I suppose, both). If I had money to be a shareholder I wouldn't want to be into an outfit l

      • Hmm. I'm not sure I agree with this.

        Once you reach a certain size, your Hugeness Precedes you.

        Facebook has scared me off with its ulbiquity combined with privacy problems.

        So then "Also Ran" Yahoo (of all folks, not the other 8 companies with a patent or three?) decides to show up in news?

        Yahoo: Not Facebook. Not an Interlinked Service subject to Google's New (Anti) "privacy" (sales) policy.

        Bonus: I have been on Yahoo Mail for some 8 years. Suddenly that's the Underdog Rebel choice to win.

        So if they can make

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:17PM (#39185865) Journal

      I think I'll hate the patents themselves. Another ridiculous patent suit wasting the time and money of the courts.

      Here, let me help you hate.

      Take, just for a quick example, Patent 5133075 [uspto.gov] (filed in 1988 granted on July 21, 1992) that is cited from the Amazon patent mentioned at the end of the summary (filed in 2011 granted on February 28, 2012). As a lowly software developer, Patent 5133075 reads like a now commonly used pub/sub paradigm. It's basically the opposite of polling. Where, for the longest time, the bulk of software projects would continually ask a central authority (like a database) for updates. So every five seconds you say "Do you have anything new for me yet? No? Okay, I'm asking again in five seconds" ad infinitum. Now, with one client, this is probably not a big problem. But as your number of clients increases this becomes impossible (usually on the network end of things, you DDOS yourself). So the idea becomes for that central authority to allow clients to register somewhere these updates should be shipped and whenever anything changes or something new comes in, you simply send it to everyone who's subscribed to that. It's a publish and subscribe method and we call it pub/sub. Undergrad (probably high school now) concept.

      So with that in mind, Amazon's patent in the summary reads with this final sentence: "The system may also automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts." Oh, okay, so you took a now commonly used paradigm and applied it to social networking. Congratulations. Surely Twitter and Facebook were doing this before 2011 but what idiot allows a company to include any language like this in a patent? That's not an invention, it's not even really a derivative of an old invention. It's taking an old solution and applying it the same way we've been using it for almost twenty years. And now this new piece of shit is dated February 2012 and we have to deal with this unadulterated human feces for another twenty years? *head explode*

      • Software patents are mostly of the blindingly obvious or "...on a mobile device" "...on a website" kind

        This is the main problem with them, and why so many people are against software patents, lawyers think they are novel ideas, programmers don't, and so everyone ends up with the ability to sue everyone else ...

        An idea that is so un-novel that everyone is already using it should not be patentable ...

      • by zlives (2009072)
        after the head explosion.. all i see are CLOUDs and my green screen
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Hmmm... I don't like Yahoo or Facebook.

      I think I'll hate the patents themselves. Another ridiculous patent suit wasting the time and money of the courts.

      I find both to be a pain, too. Perhaps that's where they patents lay -- inducing pain and suffering upon users.

  • or just a measly David against Goliath?

    Hard to tell these days. Daily form on the stock market doesn't really tell you everything.

  • I have a dream.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyder (754090) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:02PM (#39185667) Journal

    ... that one day congress/senate will come to their senses and invalidate all software patents, so I can laugh at the money these companies spend on each other over threats of court.

    In other words, the only winners here are the lawyers, which makes the current laws scum laws.

    Laws written by ex-lawyers that really only benefit lawyers. That is what is really going on.

    • Or they'll realise that the US isn't very good at manufacturing any more because they don't have the cheap peasant labor and total disregard for safety and the environment to be found in China, so intellectual property and services are all they have left to export.
      • Why do you think the government is so easily going along with this crazy set of "intellectual property" laws? You nailed it on the head.

        (Now, all that money going to politician election/reelection campaigns and fact finding missions to the Bahamas doesn't hurt either.)

        • It also explains why the US has pressured other countries so hard to pass equally tough copyright laws, with ACTA just being the latest example. It's one industry where the US exports a great deal.
      • by w_dragon (1802458)
        The US is still very good at manufacturing, it's just that robots do a much better job than humans ever did for a lot of manufacturing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:03PM (#39185681)

    The idea that the world will end if we don't let people sue other people over ideas is coming to an end. There are no new ideas, just different applications of the same ideas or a synthesis of several ideas together. The amount of wasted time and money that doesn't create anything new or anything useful is annoying and stupid. There's a phrase "If you created Facebook you would have created Facebook." Put up or shut up. Having a great idea is no longer enough, you have to produce great results. This will not squeeze out the little guy, but it will require that people reward the right people. If you have an idea and you can't scale it up to mass production, you'll loose out. Sorry. If you can take a floundering idea and make it flourish, you deserve to be rewarded. We have to switch from the worker mentality to the owner mentality. If a company is doing well, you should not only buy from them, but invest in them. That way, when they do well, you do well too. I want a great product at a great price. I'm willing to support individuals that produce, but I'm not willing to support individuals that have a great idea but don't produce. That's all this suing ever does. Reward people who don't produce or can't produce. Many of these patents are stupid and obvious. They will not stand much longer. People are going to revolt and demand that this silly crap stops. The pendulum will swing too far, as it always does. Time for the pirate party to end patents and copyright both.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:05PM (#39185711) Journal

    Amazon's social networking patent was filed in 2011 but

    This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/506,115, filed Jul. 20, 2009 now U.S. Pat. No. 8,041,595, which is a division of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/127,495, filed May 27, 2008 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,739,139, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/022,089, filed Dec. 22, 2004 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,386,464, which is a division of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,486, filed Feb. 17, 2004 (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,194,419), which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/348,355, filed Jul. 7, 1999 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,714,916), which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/962,997, filed Nov. 2, 1997 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,269,369).

    That patent filed back in 1997 was for a networked personal contact manager [uspto.gov]. Good luck finding prior art!

    • by Pitawg (85077)

      Email lists started prior to '97 in my world.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Ah, they used the magical word "networked". Does that predates the words "Over internet protocol"?

  • by forkfail (228161) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:33PM (#39186045)

    ... that the patent system is about division of wealth, and not about creating products that lead to wealth these days?

    This thread will probably turn into a flame war about the relative merits of Yahoo/ABC and Facebook. But the true story here is, that like all the other big patent battles going on these days, this is about divvying up the internet between a few players, who will profit forevermore from it. Now it's all about who gets what slice of the pie - a pie that will keep on giving forever.

  • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:34PM (#39186057) Homepage

    Startup > Rising Star > Established Player > Unstoppable Juggernaut > Clueless Dinosaur > Patent Troll > "Hey, remember Unisys? Whatever happened to them?"

    Welcome to phase VI, Yahoo! See you at the bankruptcy liquidation auction.

  • 1. Patent anything and everything. 2. Knowingly let companies use your patented works. 3. Wait till they get rich. 4. Sue their brains out.
  • Watch as patented ideas battle over who has eligible subject matter!
  • It's a little sad to see Yahoo so unable to innovate and adapt to the changes in the industry that they've apparently got no choice but to stab their friends in the back for a little loose change.

  • ...litigate.
  • Anybody know what these patents cover?

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

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