The suit comes at a vulnerable time for Facebook, which filed its paperwork to go public in February. The company is in a Securities and Exchange Commission-imposed quiet period ahead of its expected $100 billion offering. Yahoo might be hoping that filing this suit now will make Facebook more open to a settlement, because it will want to avoid any complicated legal proceedings ahead of its market debut.
Yahoo used similar timing to its advantage when it took on Google in a 2004 lawsuit, All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher noted, which resulted in a settlement that granted Yahoo millions of shares of Google stock.
And Yahoo is pulling no punches in this fight. In the suit, Yahoo uses Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s words against him, citing his comment that “the thing that’s been really surprising about the evolution of Facebook is ... that if we didn’t do this someone else would have done it.” The company points to comments like this to say that Zuckerberg acknowledges the idea for Facebook is “not novel.”
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company goes even further, in fact, saying that Facebook’s “entire social model ... is based on Yahoo!’s patented social networking technology.”
Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff suggested that Facebook should turn to its corporate ally, Microsoft, to help it with this suit, by leveraging a deal that the Redmond, Wash.-based company has with Yahoo. According to the report, Microsoft and Yahoo have the rights to use each other’s search patents and has the right to cross-license some Yahoo patents for online services to third parties.
According to Reuters, Facebook is far outnumbered in the patent game, with 160 patents in its arsenal compared with Yahoo’s 3,300 patents and published patent applications.