Yahoo threatening Facebook Over Messaging Patents

Posted by at 5:57 am on February 28, 2012

Following the case made by a hedge fund manager late last year, Yahoo has begun threatening social media giant Facebook, with whom it partners or some ventures, over ad, website and messaging patents. The search engine, which has struggled in the changing internet search and advertising arena, may be moving to make its vast holdings of early internet patents a key fixture of its future profitability, The New York Times reports.

Yahoo sent out a statement saying “we must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement, or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our [intellectual property].” Facebook has so far responded by saying that Yahoo publicized the threats at the same time that it first contacted Facebook about the matter, so the company “hasn’t had the opportunity to fully evaluate [Yahoo’s] claims.”

The heart of the dispute is Yahoo’s contention that Facebook is infringing on 10 to 20 patents concerning advertising, web personalization, social networking and messaging technologies. While patent disputes are now common in technology circles, particularly among mobile technology companies, high-profile fights involving social-networking sites have so far been rare.

Independent analysts and publications have cited Yahoo’s patents as among its most valuable assets. While the exact number and true worth of the patents are unknown, the portfolio’s over 1,000 patents is of such worth that it could be sold separately of any sale of the business, or would dramatically increase the value of present-day Yahoo, which has seen its core businesses largely surpassed by Google and even its main partner, Microsoft’s Bing engine.

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