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Yahoo Unfriends Facebook With Aggressive Patent Demands 59

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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  • 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.

  • 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 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 eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> 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 [] (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*

  • by TheReaperD ( 937405 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:26PM (#39185981)

    Protection for innovative software is a good thing. That's why it's protected by copyright, just like books and any other documents. Software is not a solid object and thus shouldn't be protected by patents. Though there are issues with current copyright law as well, it is the correct category for software protection.

  • 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.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.