It’s an inevitable fact of business life: if you get big, you get sued.
Facebook is getting hit by that simple truth yet again: Phoenix Media/Communications, publisher of the Boston Phoenix newspaper among other publications, has fired a legal salvo at the popular social networking service for allegedly violating a patent related to setting up online personal profile pages. In addition, the company is being sued by a Japanese company called Mekiki, which operates a social network called SamuraiTime and claims Facebook was built using its patented technology.
According to Bloomberg, Tokyo-based Mekiki claims Facebook infringes three patents for a “human relationships registering system.” The Japanese company is actively seeking patent royalties and a court order to prevent further use of its inventions, according to the complaint filed a couple of days ago in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Phoenix Media case appears to weigh a bit heavier, though.
Apparently, a division of the Phoenix company’s People2People Group called Tele-Publishing filed the complaint in US District Court in Boston last Wednesday, alleging that Facebook’s “computer network and method of creating and sharing a personal page’’ is covered by one or more claims of a patent issued by the USPTO in June 2001.
The company, which provides multimedia personal and dating services ads to 200 newspapers and broadcasters nationally, says the patent includes an online template and graphics for building a personal Web page and also provides users with a secure way to share personal information with other computer network users. It’s unclear what damages Tele-Publishing is seeking.
More info on the Boston Business Journal website.
Facebook has responded with a statement about the latter case, saying it’s ‘without merit and will be fought vigorously’, unlike the Mekiki case which they chose not to comment on for now.
(Image credit: /ABC News)