Yahoo, one of the pioneers of the Internet, sued Facebook this week for allegedly infringing patents related to various aspects of social networking and online advertising.
But is Yahoo a mere has-been seeking to profit from the IPO of one of today's Internet powerhouses? And how will Facebook likely respond to the suit? GPC's Alexander Poltorak commented on the phenomenon of older companies suing newer ones as their own profits dwindle and gives his own prediction of what will happen next. (Yahoo Sues Facebook, Claiming It "Got There First" - Forbes.com, March 12, 2012)
Article excerpt: “This kind of deal seems to be happening time and again,” said Alexander Poltorak, chairman of General Patent Corporation, a consulting firm that advises on patent licensing, “where a company that used to be a leader asserts patents against a newcomer gaining share.”
Apple, which is coining money off of its iPhone, is embroiled in tit-for-tat patent litigation with Motorola and Samsung, who aren’t. But it also was forced to settle litigation with Nokia last year, paying a one-time fee and continuing royalties.
Poltorak said Facebook’s most likely line of defense will be to challenge the validity of the Yahoo patents by uncovering evidence they were anticipated by existing technology or obvious to anyone skilled in the field. The Patent Office spends less than 50 hours researching a patent, he said. Patent examiners are “very skilled at looking at prior issued patents but not as skilled at looking at broader literature or material in the marketplace,” he said. “I predict army of attorneys will now comb the world looking for this prior art.”