After Facebook popularized the use of the “Like” button, countless other versions of the Like button have appeared in other sites. You’d think that Facebook invented it, right? Apparently not. And the company holding the patent for such a feature is suing.
Rembrandt Social Media, a patent-holding company, is filing a lawsuit against Facebook in a federal court in Virginia. The company says that Facebook’s success was based in part on using two patents of a deceased Dutch programmer named Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer. Rembrandt now owns the patents that Mr. Van Der Meer was granted in 1998, which he used to build a social network called Surfbook before his death in 2004.
According to legal papers filed by Fish and Richardson, the firm representing Rembrandt, Surfbook was a social diary that let people share information with friends and family and approve some data using a “like” button. Facebook was also apparently aware of these patents, as they cited them when filing their own patents for social networking technologies. Tom Melsheimer of Fish and Richardson, had to this to say regarding the case:
“We believe Rembrandt’s patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence.”