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Yahoo Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Facebook

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the zuckerburg-unfriends-mr-thompson-lawsuit-results dept.

Facebook 121

An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article over at ZD Net: "As expected, Yahoo today filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook. The online giant is claiming the social networking giant infringes on 10 of its patents. Yahoo is hoping to secure some portion of Facebook's revenues moving forward. 'Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed,' a Yahoo spokesperson told AllThingsD. 'These technologies are the foundation of our business that engages over 700 million monthly unique visitors and represent the spirit of innovation upon which Yahoo! is built. Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court. We are confident that we will prevail.'"

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121 comments

I don't know whether to laugh or cry (5, Insightful)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333191)

The quantity of time and energy these guys spend suing each other is staggering. It is sad to see other parts of the world (Australia) following the US example in this field rather than learning from it.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (5, Insightful)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333301)

And during the golden age of technology, when computers ran faster than ever before and all the far flung corners of the world were connected and able to communicate instantaneously, the most lucrative profession a young geek could aspire to was ... lawyer.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (2)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334187)

The most lucrative profession a young geek can aspire do doesn't exist yet. Go make it.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335255)

Actually, young (and some older) lawyers are having major trouble finding jobs. There's a huge glut of lawyers right now, which is no surprise since so many people jumped on the bandwagon and thought it would be easy money. Anyone going into law right now had better have a parent with a practice or some connection to a major corporation, or they'll be arguably unemployed.

Of course, an unemployed lawyer usually ends up being a politician...

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (0)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336199)

That is why I'm glad my oldest boy is going to be a doctor. The pastor at the local college was so impressed by his work ethic and leadership ability he pulled some strings and pretty much all of his education is gonna be paid for (he's hoping to talk him into being a medical missionary, which with his love of helping the poor i could see him going on a couple of missions a year) so when he graduates 8 years from now hopefully there will still be a high demand for doctors. I told him he ought to specialize but he has it in his heart to be an old fashioned country doctor and believes that is where he can do the most good.

As for TFA Yahoo I'm sure paid to have these features developed for themselves so why shouldn't they get paid for them? While i agree that we need patent reform with the way FB has companies like Zynga blatantly ripping off indie game designers i have a REAL hard time feeling sorry for FB here.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39338055)

This may be generally true. But IP law is a different story. As you may suspect, CS/EE plus a law degree is in relative high demand right now.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335891)

Thank God technology progresses faster than patent trolls otherwise nothing technological could ever be invented again. Any new device or service in the United States infringes on multiple patents, no matter how innovative it may be.

The most popular degree is law (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333601)

When you have 1 in 3 students in the USA taking a major in law what did you think would happen ?

"Among those seeking a doctorate or professional degree, law was the No. 1 choice among men and women. There were nearly three times as many men and women becoming attorneys as there were earning a medical degree"
source [cbsnews.com]

with all those lawyers itching to use their new found knowledge who are also in 6 digit debt to get their degree, and desperate does what desperate can, nothing clarifies the mind quite like a debt collector banging your door at 5am

well you end up with a society just like the one we see emerging, sue everybody for anything because you need to put food on your table AND pay the piper at the end of the month or he will take all you have.

so this Yahoo trial is just the tip of the iceberg, the best conclusion for any business is if you want to innovate, do it outside USA, do not sell/visit/talk to them, its safer that way.

Re:The most popular degree is law (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333823)

How horribly misleading and incorrect. So law was the most popular professional "doctoral" degree, big deal. It's not a "major", and it's not 1 in 3 students, it's 1 in 3 "doctoral" students (which is a tiny fraction of all US university education).

And it's made even more misleading by the fact that it's very difficult to get into (and requires a lot of effort and focus to graduate from) *any* medical school in the US (and if you graduate, you have to do another 3-6 years residency after which you have an almost certain chance of getting a decent job), while there are a ton of crappy law schools that accept even crappier applicants. And calling a JD a "doctorate" is kind of a joke (it's a 3 year program, the 3rd year of which is mostly spent looking for a job and getting ready to take the bar). Not to mention a lot of those new JDs can't find a job today anyway and/or never manage to pass a bar, and many others never intended to actually practice law in the first place.

Re:The most popular degree is law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334587)

"while there are a ton of crappy law schools that accept even crappier applicants."

That's just a result of the economic forces caused by our legal system. The supply of money that lawyers get is so great as a proportion of time, effort, and money invested relative to other professions, that the educational system compensates by providing for allowing more people to more easily become lawyers. It's easier to get a law degree than a medical degree because the supply of degrees, due to the demand for lawyers, is greater. The demand for medical doctors is less due to the insane liabilities involved.

Getting a medical degree is hard partly because everyone is afraid of hiring doctors and getting sued and so doctors have to have all this training on how to avoid getting sued. No one wants to hire a doctor that hasn't had an insane amount of training, with our legal system, it's too much of a liability. Hiring a sup-par lawyer can still save and make you money since to be a lawyer and sue someone is easy.

What's amazing, though not surprising, from that article is the following.

"Among those seeking a doctorate or professional degree, law was the No. 1 choice among men and women. There were nearly three times as many men and women becoming attorneys as there were earning a medical degree (MD). ...

"Most Popular Doctorate/Professional Degrees for Men

        Law 31.5%
        Medicine (MD) 10.8% ...

Most Popular Doctorate/Professional Degrees for Women

        Law 25.6%
        Medicine (MD) 9.9%

"

If you make the laws less favorable to lawyers, by abolishing all these silly patents and making copyright more reasonable and by setting up a less one-sided penalty structure, unlike the one sided penalty structure that favors IP and other plaintiffs (replace that with one that delivers greater penalties to plaintiffs who file frivolous lawsuits and one that delivers reduced penalties against those who infringe and violate silly laws), then fewer people will become lawyers. Some of those would be lawyers would become doctors instead. The demand for lawyers would decrease and so there would be fewer schools teaching law and the quality of lawyers would increase and the demand for other professions, due to decreased frivolous liability issues, would increase as well.

Re:The most popular degree is law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334791)

Let me try breaking it down even more to the micro-economic scale.

Lets say you have two law schools, law school A and law school B. Law school A charges $300 per student and spends $250 per student and provides a sub-par education. Law school B charges $500 per student and spends $450 per student and provides a better education.

Now you have a firm that needs lawyers. If the demand for lawyers is great, due to a legal system that facilitates a high demand for lawyers (ie: a legal system makes it so that firms can save and make a lot more money by hiring more lawyers) this firm might hire 200 lawyers and would be much more willing to take more sub-par lawyers from law firm A. They just need a lawyer, someone who can dedicate all of their time working out the legal aspects of everything they decide to do, the quality isn't as important, and this is especially true for plaintiffs (given a one sided penalty structure in favor of plaintiffs), though may not be as true for defendants.

As a result of this huge demand, the average lawyer who spends $300 on law school A makes an average of $600 ROI. Law firm A can be provided the number of students necessary to exist and continue providing sub-par educations.

Now, if the demand for lawyers were reduced, due to improvements in our legal system, the firm is less desperate for lawyers and now would be less willing to hire as many lawyers and would be less willing to hire sub-par lawyers. Someone who graduates from law school A now only averages a $400 ROI, forget that, they're either finding another school to go to or finding another profession. Law school A must either increase its quality of education (which requires spending more and charging more) or it must go out of business. This, no doubt, would cause many law firms to go out of business and the ones that remain would provide higher quality degrees that firms want to hire, since firms don't want to hire lawyers from law schools that provide poor quality degrees.

Re:The most popular degree is law (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335807)

Ok, I'm not an engineer, my BS is in economics. Therefore I have no idea what all this 'supply and demand' and ROI means. Can you maybe go for a car analogy?

Re:The most popular degree is law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335543)

It's still 1 in 3. If they were 1 in 3 in Engineering, perhaps that would be another thing. But since it's easier to fuck people for money than invent and create... hell, why not.

Re:The most popular degree is law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39337325)

So law was the most popular professional "doctoral" degree...

No. Law is the most popular doctoral or professional degree.

Re:The most popular degree is law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39338155)

It is true many JDs cannot find a job today. However, IP law is the exception. Jobs are relatively plentiful in that area of law, since there are high barriers of entry (i.e. you need an engineering/science background first) and the industry is booming right now (as this article proves). Secondly, passing the BAR is a joke. The pass rates for nearly every state (with the exception of CA) are like 70% or better. Even in CA, the results are skewed for a variety of reasons that are not worth geting into.

I agree, however, that it's not surprising that Law is the most popular "doctoral" degree as it is essentially guaranteed you'll get into some law school, which of course is the underlying issue with why many JDs cannot find a job.

Re:The most popular degree is law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336447)

Your comment and this article reminds me of all those stories of people suing their friends because it's the only way to pay their hospital bill.

Not that Yahoo and Facebook are friends.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333827)

The quantity of time and energy these guys spend suing each other is staggering.

Yeah. It's shocking anyone still tries to launch a dot com startup in this country. And the vote of no confidence in ICANN is another nail in the coffin of US dominance of the internet. It's very quickly becoming a bit player thanks to its short-sighted public policies. I know of several friends of mine that are working on some interesting IT projects that could get them some venture funding; I've helped all of them prepare passports and a list of investment firms that do not share this country's zest for fucking itself with a 6 foot long hot poker while singing Pink Floyd's "Money".

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334799)

nail in the coffin of US dominance of the internet

I never looked at the US as being dominant on the internet. I do agree that a LOT of American companies were dominant, but I looked at it as more of a "in the right place" type of scenario. It was like the companies got ahead of the law/regulation curve and made the money. Now that the government and lawmakers have realized just how much power and control they have lost, they seem to be going out of their way to claw it back. Combine that with the other companies that have lost out because they didn't get on the boat in time (Imma looking at you RIAA) crying and throwing tantrums and you have a huge amount of momentum behind draconian regulation and the like. Now, on top of all of that, throw in some judges that have no idea of how a computer, let alone the internet works, taking down Canadian websites for breaking US laws and it really forces you to laugh or cry.

You know, I started this arguing some of what you said, but I think after thinking about it and writing some of it down, I have come to agree with your statement. This is yet another nail in the coffin of US dominance of the internet.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334073)

The quantity of time and energy these guys spend suing each other is staggering.

Maybe if they spent the same amount of time, energy and money actually developing new products and technologies, we might not be in such a sad state of decline.

And since it's the lobbyists who are writing the laws these days, and the "intellectual property" lobby is so strong, there really is no roadmap out of this mess.

John Galt turned out to be a lazy bastard who has decided it's easier to force other companies to give you money than it is to actually make something worthwhile yourself.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334255)

John Galt turned out to be a lazy bastard who has decided it's easier to force other companies to give you money than it is to actually make something worthwhile yourself.

Who was in charge when Yahoo did the same thing to Google? This looks like a tactic that has been used (abused?) over the years.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335935)

John Galt turned out to be a lazy bastard who has decided it's easier to force other companies to give you money than it is to actually make something worthwhile yourself.

Well, unfortunately he is right. In the US R&D is one of the worst places you can spend money. You get a much higher return from advertising and marketing, legal maneuvers, and lobbying.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335461)

Hopefully some country will stand up and just say NO to all IP. No copyright, no patents, nothing. When that happens that will be the place to invent and produce things. Eventually, people will want crap that works at a fraction of the price and will just buy stuff there and take them back to their home countries. It may take a few more years to get this done but when the IP costs of manufacturing get to the 25% cost level this will become attractive. You can always export to patent abiding countries or resellers and let them add the markup later, however, producing in a litigious country will mean you need to pay the markup on every unit, even the ones going to patent free countries.

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336089)

Germany seems to have pretty lax IP law, and IIRC they were discussing banning
software patents about a decade ago (don't know what happened to that).

Re:I don't know whether to laugh or cry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39337871)

It is sad to see other parts of the world (Australia) following the US example in this field rather than learning from it.

Yeah, so whenever it's something bad, it's always America doing it. Ever paid attention to the Italians? They're about ten times as litigious as the Americans, but of course, no one's going to bring them up. That wouldn't be status quo!
 
And, of course, when it's good, there was always someone else in some other country doing it, somehow being shafted or stolen by the Americans.

HEY MODS!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39338291)

Mod parent up. Good point.

Troll-dam dam da (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333209)

Yahoo! The New SCO? Phonograph at 11 jim..

Re:Troll-dam dam da (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333257)

Yahoo *probably* put a bit of work into community and search... They cruised thru millions doing so...

Re:Troll-dam dam da (4, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333395)

Then why not sue years ago when they had more money? Yahoo! is circling the bowl. We all know it....

Re:Troll-dam dam da (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334053)

Maybe they're betting it will be easier for Facebook to buy them at an inflated price than to fight it out in court.

Re:Troll-dam dam da (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334821)

Then why not sue years ago when they had more money? Yahoo! is circling the bowl. We all know it....

Because when they had money, they didn't HAVE to sue to stay afloat. The money that they were spending on development was supposed to keep them in the black at this point in time. However, now that it is obvious that those duckies weren't in a neat row, they need to find another means of getting enough money to stay afloat - and what better company to hit up than Facebook?

Re:Troll-dam dam da (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336121)

Well, they did a lot of R&D all right.. On how to loose the crowd's interest and how not to
do community policy. My main account was banned from yahoo answers years ago
because apparently I was "infringing on community guidelines". After contacting them
for more info they said I was "infringing on community guidelines". After a couple more
mails I was informed that I was "infringing on community guidelines". A couple of
telephone calls later I was "infringing on community guidelines".

To this day I do not know why I was banned. The account was active on that portal for
some time, I even had gotten a few levels (good idea btw). The best insight I managed
to get (by personal contemplation, no they didn't help at all with that) was that probably
you can't say that "downloading a stream from the Internet is perfectly legal as long as
it's legal to stream"

The Difference is... (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333265)

Yahoo actually may have the basis for a legitimate lawsuit...

yahoo started out as Jerry Yang's "Favorites" (4, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333305)

and im sorry but im guessing someone had a patent on 'selection of high quality linkage indicators in a computer network' if they looked hard enough.

if yahoo has anything, it is a right to join the corrupt backstabbing club of big tech giants who are all shaking each other down with lawyers playing the role of 'knee-cap breaker'. its very similar to how the mafia controls a neighborhood. each 'family' has 'turf' and 'agreements' to get cuts of various businesses. and they are always fighting amongst each other and threatening to wipe each other out.

meanwhile, ordinary people are just trying to build stuff, make a small profit, and live a normal life. not die with a mountain of cocaine piled on top of our desk.

Re:The Difference is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333321)

A *lot* of people said the same thing about SCO too, including the bulk of the mainstream industry press.

Re:The Difference is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333971)

The new rule to success is: When your industry starts to die because innovation is no longer there and you have become irrelevant, sue.

Re:The Difference is... (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333627)

It seems like from a strategic point of view, regardless of how valid the patents are, Facebook is in a much stronger position:

As to Yahoo’s core business — investors consider it almost entirely worthless.
And let’s not forget: Facebook could also sue right back, which it very well might do. Or, perhaps, cut off agreeable ties that have aided Yahoo in recent years.

Re:The Difference is... (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333641)

that would require an actual list of infringed patents. neither this nor the article linked by TFA does this. does anyone have that list? otherwise, these reports are useless.

Re:The Difference is... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333861)

The article has a link to the suit - the patents all sound fairly generic:

- Method and System for Optimal Placement of Advertisements on a Webpage [3 patents]
- System and Method to Determine the Validity of an Interaction on a Network
- Method and System for Customizing Views of Information Associated with a Social Network User
- Control for Enabling a User to Preview Display of Selected Content Based on Another User's Authorization Level
- Online Playback System with Community Bias
- Dynamic Page Generator
- World Modeling Using a Relationship Network with Communication Channels to Entities
- System and Method for Instant Messaging Using an E-mail Protocol

Re:The Difference is... (2)

evanism (600676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334929)

"Dynamic Page Generator"... guess my work in 1994 with PERL excludes this one.

Re:The Difference is... (1)

syockit (1480393) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336205)

The thing is even if it was, you can't be sure if that thing you wrote was generating a page by itself or was magically pulling it from other sources, since you have no means to make any sense out of it.

Now if you were to write it again from scratch it will no longer be prior art

Re:The Difference is... (1)

Epimer (1337967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336435)

Modded +4 Informative for reciting the titles of a bunch of patents without any insight on their actual content. Sheesh.

Re:The Difference is... (2)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336733)

>- Method and System for Optimal Placement of Advertisements on a Webpage [3 patents]

Wait ... they have a patent on this ? Why the hell aren't they USING it then ! Seriously... have you seen what a yahoo site looks like without adblock ?

Re:The Difference is... (4, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333873)

Post Bilski, that seems pretty improbable. Much as I may despise Facebook and don't care one way or the other about Yahoo, I'm not going to concede that anything involving pure software can ever qualify as the basis for a legitimate patent suit.

Re:Troll-dam dam da (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335471)

Is this the new Godwin for patent trolls? When you don't have a fucking point you mention SCO?

Re:Troll-dam dam da (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335651)

Come on now. SCO is the gold standard for patent trolling.

More obvious, trivial junk patents (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333269)

This is just more obvious trivial junk that should never have been given a patent in the first place.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333413)

So that's why you made your own search engine prior to Yahoo implementing these technologies? Oh right, just another freetard bleating about how these patents were "obvious" after-the-fact.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (4, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333555)

Funny how 99.99% of all of the software and hardware you use every day was ineligible for patent protection or otherwise created without bothering with it. It's almost as if patents are just another economic racket associated with living in a lawyer-ridden society, or something.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335313)

s/It's almost as if //;

That is what patents are for. Patents are for making more money. It is just absurd the settlement amounts for these "infringements" compared to the small amount invested in and actual value of the "invention".

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (4, Informative)

robbak (775424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333563)

Yahoo was never a search engine. The were one of the "hand made index" school. When that idea proved unworkable, they started adding other's real search engine results to their indexed entries.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333799)

Technically, from 2004 to 2009 [wikipedia.org], Yahoo had its own results, which were actually pulled by a real crawler. Said crawler was originally a company they contracted from, Inktomi, but later bought. I remember this era brightly, because the results were so bad.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334915)

I find some of the timelines funny. Altavista returned better search results by far than Yahoo did (early mid nineties) but it ended up being gobbled up by Yahoo anyhow, due to the vast cash they had. Now, Yahoo is a long way down struggle street and they are suing Facebook for lack of other straws to clutch at.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333801)

Nice distraction, but it doesn't answer the post. It's always easy for people to claim something is obvious after-the-fact. If it were truly so obvious more people would have been doing it before Yahoo, no?

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334061)

The patents in question are for a technique (not the general idea, general ideas are not patentable) for ordering and presenting ads on a web page based on a user's past actions. The techniques specified in the patent are an assemblage of well known patterns to simple problems. This assemblage is indeed obvious to any skilled practioner.

Good patents for non-obvious innovations that further the state of the art are needed, but these Yahoo patents ain't them. The patent system is supposed to be setup so that if a skilled practitioner looks at patented invention he'll say "damn, how did they implement that?". Then, in turn for revealing the implementation, the inventor is granted legal protection for a period of time. Meanwhile the rest of society says "aha! now that I see how that clever implemenation was achieved works I can apply similar implemenations to other problems" and society moves forward.

Anybody with a background in Comp Sci or Engineering could be given the problem background described in these Yahoo patents and come up with almost identical implmentations, because THERE IS NOT INVENTION OR INNOVATION TAKING PLACE, its just well known technologies being applied in obvious patterns! That is not invention as described in the charter of the patent office, yet the patent office issues thousands of similar flimsy patents every year. /end_rant

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334779)

So if it's so obvious who implemented it before Yahoo did?

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (1)

Epimer (1337967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336451)

"The patent system is supposed to be setup so that if a skilled practitioner looks at patented invention he'll say "damn, how did they implement that?"."

This is subtly incorrect, though. Most inventive step tests are based around the idea of asking if the ordinary skilled person would arrive at the solution provided by the patented invention *without* knowledge of it. That is, to look at the prior art, look at the problem to be solved, and then determining if the ordinary skilled person armed with common general knowledge and knowledge of the prior art would (would, not could) arrive at the patented solution.

I have no opinion on whether or not the patents in the article do or do not satisfy that criteria, and I appreciate that your third paragraph is more in line with this approach, but I think it's an important distinction to make.

Re:More obvious, trivial junk patents (3, Insightful)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336907)

So that's why you made your own search engine prior to Yahoo implementing these technologies?

Yahoo! isn't a search engine. It was originally a hand edited directory of websites, and the true search engine was licensed (from AltaVista and Google amongst others). Their code was a horrendous mess of C modules running on many different hacked up versions of Apache and it crashed with shocking frequency. The only reason the site stayed up was because each Apache instance was largely autonomous and individual machines could be rebooted as necessary. The backend was no more stable, often running with the data in shared memory on FreeBSD machines that would also require regular rebooting since they were using crazy kernel configurations.

Amusingly, given their lack of project management processes, a few years ago they switched to PHP as their preferred development platform. I'm sure this has resulted in another clusterfuck.

A Pattern (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333411)

Yahoo typically likes to bring suit at the time a large IPO is going on figuring that this is when a company is most likely to bend over rather than have a stain on the IPO.

They did the same thing to Google.

I'm glad that Facebook didn't knuckle under and is going to fight. Ideally the end result will be a financial loss to Yahoo.

Re:A Pattern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335345)

however, you do NOT want yahoo to fail (or facebook to win)

Sounds oddly familiar... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333461)

Before time began, there was the patant.
We know not where it comes from, only that it holds the power to create lawyers and fill them with life.
That is how our corporation was born.
For a time, we lived in harmony,
but like all great power,
some wanted it for good, others for evil.

And so began the war.

The writing on the wall... (1)

poormanjoe (889634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333679)

Yahoo! Is never going to be cool again. Let's cash out.

Facebook is a bubble let's cash out.

If Yahoo was the inventor of Facebook... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333685)

... Yahoo would have invented Facebook.

Innovation, really? (1, Insightful)

OMG (669971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333783)

I have taken the time to read through some of their earlier patents cited in the law suit. "Intelligent placement of adds", likelihood of clicks etc. This is so ... innovatiive?
Any of those guys and patent lawyers ever worked in the "real world"? Just because you do something that has been done all the time on the web it's not automatically an innovation.

Re:Innovation, really? (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335021)

I'll play along. Name one company using text ads in February 1998.. go ahead.. I'll wait.

In February 1998 (7 months before Google was started) there was a company called GoTo.com. They were renamed to Overture, and then eventually sold to Yahoo.

Those text ads you see on Google, Facebook, etc. Guess who created those.

Re:Innovation, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336577)

Name one company using text ads in February 1998

Any newspaper? The internet ad-based economy wasn't really mature at that time... Doesn't mean the technical solutions weren't obvious as soon as the problems actually arose.

licensed? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333975)

... numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed

What they really mean but won't say: ... a bunch of bogus patents we did exchange licensing for licenses for other bogus patents were we going to be sued over.

Re:licensed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334355)

... numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed

What they really mean but won't say: ... a bunch of bogus patents we did exchange licensing for licenses for other bogus patents were we going to be sued over.

Google hold a perpetual royalty-free license for a Yahoo! patent on auction-based pay-for-placement ad systems. They paid for it in shares at the time of their IPO, not in a cross-licensing deal.

Plan for eliminating software patents (3, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333991)

Suppose some entity puts all of their software patents into a pool. For the sake of argument, let's say Google and IBM get together and pool all of their software patents into a sort of "co-op". Anyone who is a member of the co-op gets to use any and all the patents in the pool, royalty free.

Then they open up membership in the co-op.

Anyone who wants can join the co-op, with the following requirements:
1) They donate their own software patents (if any) to the pool
2) They agree not to sue any other co-op member over a software patent

And the following benefits:
1) They can use any patent in the pool royalty free
2) They won't be sued by anyone else in the co-op

Here's the best part: you can be a member of the co-op even if you *don't* have patents to donate. Membership is open to anyone - engineers, lawyers, businessmen... anyone.

With the big players taking the lead (Google and IBM in our example), everyone can now charge more or pay less, based on whether the other party is a co-op member.

Engineer looking for a job? We offer higher salaries to members of the co-op.

Vendor looking to sell? We discount our rates for members of the co-op.

Everyone in the group could adjust their prices depending on whether the other party is a member. The price adjustment reflects the "cost of doing business" with a particular class of people. The same as charging higher health insurance rates for smokers, or higher car insurance rates to teenagers.

Mark Twain once wrote about a small group of riverboat captains who banded together in this way, and effectively forced everyone to join their union. Initially no outsider wanted to join, but the members all agreed *not* to work with anyone who was not also a member. Captains found it easier to join the union than turn down a work opportunity.

The co-op model would also help stifle vague and overreaching patents. If someone in the co-op is sued (by an outsider), the member can refer to similar patents from the co-op which cover the same idea. Since in theory two patents cannot cover the same idea, the member can claim that the usage falls more within the co-op description than the troll-patent description.

If people could do this and stick to their guns, we would eliminate software patents in a couple of years.

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334185)

First, I'm not 100% certain such a co-op would be legal in all cases, but aside from that it wouldn't matter in all the most important cases. See, the real patent trolls are those who don't even have a product, only a patent: the co-op is powerless against them, since they have no leverage (remember, the troll isn't using any patent or possible patent, he only "owns" them), while the troll can patent nearly anything, which means there will always be something the co-op members could get sued for (it just isn't possible for them to cover everything themselves).

So while a decent idea, in theory, I doubt very much it would actually work. It might prevent this suit, but really this suit isn't one of the really egregious cases anyways (except insofar as software patents are bullshit).

Plus, in the extreme opposite direction, Apple has far too much clout to be bowed by such a co-op, and I suspect there would be others who are too powerful as well (Microsoft, perhaps) and without the ability to force everyone to join, it won't ultimately be effective.

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334725)

1) Patent trolls who don't have a product are in no position to threaten a large company. Except in the unusual case of an SCO whose litigation is funded by a major corporation, they can't afford to bring a proper lawsuit.
2) The purpose of cooperation is analogous to the NATO alliance. Yes, Microsoft and Apple are large and would risk a strategically sound suit against Google, risking an equivalent counter-suit. But they wouldn't dare attack a member of a co-op, which would retaliate with a massive number of patent suits, after which they would settle out of court at a major loss.
3) The co-op not only provides a legal defense, but can also yield members a major spike in consumer approval. You become one of the good guys by not spending revenues on legal maneuvers.

The bigger concern is if several of these arise and a "world war" ensues.

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334957)

1) Patent trolls who don't have a product are in no position to threaten a large company. Except in the unusual case of an SCO whose litigation is funded by a major corporation, they can't afford to bring a proper lawsuit.

Eolas?

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337483)

Alternative is to set up/support a puppet company to sue for them. MS did this with SCO, I'm pretty sure I read about Apple doing this too..

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334211)

I sent a suggestion to Google a while ago. My idea was to have a public repository of ideas. Any idea that was published in it would thus become prior art and could be used against stupid patents. I have no clue if that would actually work, IANAL, etc. Google never wrote back to me...

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334715)

Suppose some entity puts all of their software patents into a pool.

You have just described the open invention network:

http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/ [openinventionnetwork.com]

OpenInvention is incomplete (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335295)

As far as I can tell, OpenInvention has no no way to economically (as in "money") encourage membership. It's entirely voluntary.

For this to work, you need the economic incentives. As in the Mark Twain story, if members were allowed to work with non-members, then the union would fail.

The system only worked because the union members banded together to say that they would not work with a non-member. Non-members found it less hassle to join than lose the opportunity.

Additionally, a company can advertize a discount to customers who are members. If it's easy and free to become a member, this would cause their ranks to grow.

I don't see any of this at the OpenInvention project. It's nice and all, but it's only a feel-good voluntary wishful-thinking 'kinda thing.

OpenInvention doesn't have a way to incentivize membership.

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335815)

oracle will gladly loot your bloated drowned corpse and pee in said pool

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336503)

1. Form child company "Evil Child"
2. License all your patents to them in exchange for 100% of their profits.
3. Have Evil Child join the coop getting royalty free access to all the patents.
4. Sue all the members of the COOP for using your patents without a license.
5. Profit.

 

Re:Plan for eliminating software patents (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337605)

First problem: someone has to govern this pool. Why? Well you need someone to determine if a member of the pool has broken the rules or not (ie. peed in the pool). So who's going to govern this pool? First, it'll probably be a lawyer, but on top of that, it'll probably end up being whoever has the largest stake in the pool (so in your case, it'll be Google/IBM). This means that their competitors (say, MS and Apple) probably aren't going to end up joining because there's no reason in hell why they'd want to piss their patents away to their competitors.

Second problem: a lot of the people you'd like joining the pool still seem to like them quite a lot, even if they're also getting trolled constatnly. Go out and ask MS or Apple - they'll gladly put up with trolls since they're rolling bank if it allows them to crush their competitors.

Perhaps it could work if it reaches a critical mass, but even if it does, you still have the problems of the pool breaking down from the inside. Fact of the matter is, we sorta did have that kind of situation before the companies started suing each other, when there was a gentlemen's agreement of sorts that they wouldn't sue. They someone upset the apple cart (*cough* Apple *cough*) and all hell broke loose. So say you make your pool, then we're back to where we started - and as it already happened, all it has to do is break down from the inside.

The only way we can get rid of software patents is to have engineers write the rules (or at least have a say in them). But since the world is currently run by MBAs and lawyers, that'll never happen. On the bright side, a country of lawyers and businesspeople is unsustainable since they don't produce anything. It doesn't help that the US has such great disdain for education, so it'll get no better until their economy collapses.

Yahoo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334189)

Yahoo? Why are they still afloat after all these years of living in the shadow of the giants... Other than these news stories, I never hear about Yahoo. Someone who's new to the internet probably won't even know what Yahoo is until they see these stories about how they are suing everything and everyone.

Re:Yahoo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335043)

Yahoo? Why are they still afloat after all these years...

Simple: Yahoo Answers.

There's no better place to find evidence of how stupid people can be. Yahoo must have generated a few hundred buck of ad revenue from my browsing alone.

Links to the patents in the case (5, Informative)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334399)

Here are links to the 10 patents discussed in the case. I made it partway through one of them before I decided to go have a beer instead. Maybe someone else has more patience.

6,907,566 [patents.com] Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage
7,100,111 [patents.com] Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage
7,373,599 [patents.com] Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage
7,668,861 [patents.com] System and method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network
7,269,590 [patents.com] Method and system for customizing views of information associated with a social network user
7,599,935 [patents.com] Control for enabling a user to preview display of selected content based on another user's authorization level
7,454,509 [patents.com] Online playback system with community bias
5,983,227 [patents.com] Dynamic page generator
7,747,648 [patents.com] World modeling using a relationship network with communication channels to entities
7,406,501 [patents.com] System and method for instant messaging using an e-mail protocol

Re:Links to the patents in the case (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334991)

5,983,227 [patents.com] Dynamic page generator , I remember Netscape doing what this patent describes with the launch of HTML 3.2 FRAMES back in.... hmmm, 1995 or 1996.

They pitched it to me when they released it. It had customised weather, sports, all that jazz. Ugly as hell, but at least 2 years ahead of this patent.

Re:Links to the patents in the case (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335063)

so you aren't really sure if it was 1995 or 1996, but it was definitely before 1997 (when the patent was filed) because you have such a great memory of 15 years ago, even though you aren't sure when netscape supposedly did what was in the patent.

Ok. sure.

Re:Links to the patents in the case (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335285)

But it was done. The point is they were not first.

Since AC is still popping his pimples he perhaps doesn't remember the internet before 2007, you know, like, before facebook?

Re:Links to the patents in the case (4, Informative)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335001)

Those first 3 were from Yahoo's acquisition of Overture -- the company that invented the text ads that google uses. Overture was originally named GoTo.com, and was started in February 1998 -- 7 months before Google was founded.

So Yahoo may have a real case here.

Dying Company (-1, Flamebait)

HellrazerX (2545864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334641)

Those who can, do. Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym. Those who can't teach gym are executives at Yahoo. Yahoo is dying and has been for a while, this is the kind of thing dying companies do to try and stay a float nothing more nothing less.

Company Lifecycle (2)

Wattos (2268108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335801)

This might be stating the obvious, but it looks like Yahoo wont be around for much longer. Looking at the current state of things, one could deduce the following lifecycle for a company:

1) Found Company
2) Innovate
3) Profit
4) Rest and watch the competition overtake you while profits decrease.
5) Start suing everyone around you for patent infringement
6) Bankrupcy

Yahoo is at step 5 now.

Re:Company Lifecycle (3, Interesting)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336771)

Actually step 4 is wrong. What really happens is a few steps:

4) Go public
5) Discover that the people who now control your company have absolutely no incentive in it's long-term survival but every incentive to make their shares worth more next quarter.
6) Fire the founder and appoint a new CEO (unless the founder plays ball - 96% of them get fired).
7) Make a lot of moves that give massive short term profit boosts by effectively selling off the very assets that made your company a success in the first place - mass layoffs for example.
8) Report a record profit
9) Watch as all those share-holders sell their pricey stocks - the price now comes back down
10) Discover that without good staff you can't make good products. Stagnate while competition forges ahead.

Continue with your original step 5.

700 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335915)

700 million people still use yahoo?

I guess there could be 650 million spam bots out there....

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