Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Worst But First: Yahoo Uses Words of Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Poke Him in Patent Lawsuit

On the sixth page of its just-filed patent lawsuit against Facebook, Yahoo quotes the social networking company’s CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg:

“Getting there first is not what it’s all about.”

The quote, which Yahoo contends shows Zuckerberg has “conceded that the design of Facebook is not novel and based on the ideas of others,” is woefully taken out of context, but it’s an attempt to hit home one point:

We were here first and we have more patents.

Even if, as it has turned out, Yahoo has done little over the years with the innovation those patents might represent. Meanwhile, Facebook has run the bases with the wide range of the advertising, messaging, customization, privacy and social networking concepts involved.

Of the 10 patents Yahoo is using in the 19-page lawsuit, filed today in California, the company said: “For much of the technology upon which Facebook was based, Yahoo was there first.”

First but worst, as Yahoo has struggled in recent years to make itself more relevant and prevent the decline of its once mighty business.

Via a series of ineffective leaders and strategies, that has not worked at all, as its business has declined. Now — under the much more in-your-face reign of new CEO Scott Thompson — Yahoo is hoping that courts will determine that what it says it invented counts for something.

“Facebook’s entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles for and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo’s patented social networking technology,” Yahoo’s lawsuit reads, in part.

That includes in the legal action, Yahoo alleges, Facebook’s popular News Feed, advertising methods, privacy settings and more. The company adds that Facebook has been “free riding” on Yahoo’s intellectual property and that royalty payments alone will not suffice.

So what does Yahoo want for this alleged free ride? Triple damages and to enjoin Facebook from operating by using said patents.

Given the scope of the patents Yahoo said it has, that means it wants Facebook to essentially close down.

Therefore, I would be expecting Facebook to poke back in three … two … one …


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work