Facebook has nothing to "Like" about a lawsuit filed by a patent-holding company regarding integral features the social networking site may have stolen. The suit targets Facebook's "like" button as such an allegedly stolen feature of the site's design.
The BBC announced on Monday that Rembrandt Social Media (Rembrandt IP) has claimed that the success of Facebook is based in part on two patents of a (now deceased) Dutch programmer named Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer. RSM went on to state that Facebook never received permission for using said patents.
The lawsuit filing was made in a federal court in Eastern Virginia, one of the most notoriously expedient patent dockets in the country, according to Ars Technica.
Van Der Meer died in June 2004, a mere four months after the launch of Facebook. He filed the two patents in question, however, on Sept. 1, 1998. Those patents were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Sept. 11, 2001 and July 2, 2002.
As reported by NBC News, the first patent was for a social networking application that allows users instantly to transfer content from a Web site to a user's "Web page diary" with a click (not too dissimilar to Facebook's "like" feature). The second patent was for the "Web page diary" itself, which collects, organizes and shares information with a selected group of people.
Van Der Meer, who the claim refers to as "a pioneer in the development of user-friendly Web technologies," also had registered a minor social networking site of his own - previous to Facebook's 2004 launch - called Surfbook.
Because Van Der Meer died before work on Surfbook.com was completed, it is unknown at this time what, if anything, was done with it. However, RSM's claim does state that, "[Facebook] bears a remarkable resemblance, both in terms of its functionality and technical implementation, to the personal web page diary that Van Der Meer had invented years earlier."
Due to the fact that "Web page diary" functions have become a staple of numerous social networking sites, Facebook may not be alone in RSM's claim of online larceny. In fact, the patent-holder for Van Der Meer implicated "social bookmarking" site AddThis (also launched in 2004) in the claim, as well.
"We believe Rembrandt's patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it," said legal representative Tom Melsheimer of Fish and Richardson, "and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence."
Although at this time no other companies have been named by the claim aside from Facebook, Melsheimer told NBC News, "That doesn't mean that won't happen."