Facebook allegedly violated patents obtained by deceased social networking pioneer
MOSCOW, February 12 – RAPSI, Ingrid Burke. According to the claim, Van Der Meer essentially invented social media in the 1990s, although he referred to the technology in terms of personal web page diaries. This technology specifically enabled users without sophisticated computer science experience to create personal diaries online, through which personal information and third-party content could be collected. This information could then be organized chronologically, and then shared with others selected by the user via privacy settings.
Van Der Meer was issued a patent for the technology, referred to as a “Method and Apparatus for Implementing a Web Page Diary,” (Patent 316) on July 2, 2002.
Van Der Meer received a second patent on September 11, 2001 for a technology referred to as “System and Method for Generation, Transferring, and Using an Annotated Universal Address” (Patent 362), which enabled users to share third-party data on their personal web diaries with the click of a button. This would allow users to “collect interesting content as they browsed the Web, simply by clicking on buttons on the websites that they visited.”
Van Der Meer had endeavored to build a commercial enterprise from his patents. He even registered the domain name www.surfbook.com. Sadly, his life ended in 2004 before he was able to reap the harvest of his pioneering.
The wife Van Der Meer left behind sought out the services of Rembrandt IP Management, LLC in order to help her secure credit and compensation for his work. By assignment, Rembrandt now owns Patents 316 and 362.
According to the lawsuit, social networking giant Facebook, “bears a remarkable resemblance, both in terms of its functionality and technical implementations, to the personal web page diary that Van Der Meer had invented a year earlier.”
Couching the relevant Facebook technologies in terms reminiscent of those used in Van Der Meer’s Patent 316, the complaint states that: “the Facebook website gives ordinary people – those without special training – the ability to create a personal webpage diary, comprised of personal information and third-party content, and to arrange it chronologically. Facebook organizes (or has organized) this information in various presentation formats, including the ‘wall,’ the ‘timeline,’ and the ‘news feed,’ and provides the user with the ability to share specific diary entries with a selected group of people, such as the user’s friends, through the use of user-settable privacy levels.”
The complaint further raises issue with the fact that Facebook obtains advertising revenue by placing advertisements on “millions of personal diary pages,” as had been envisioned by Van Der Meer and provided for in Patent 316.
Finally, Rembrandt asserts that Facebook has infringed upon Van Der Meer’s Patent 362 by enabling users to share content from third-party sources by use of the “like” and “share” buttons.
Rembrandt seeks a jury trial and a wide array of relief from Facebook, including, among other things: a decree that Facebook has, in fact, willfully violated Patents 316 and 362; a decree that Facebook and social bookmarking service (and co-defendant) AddThis jointly and willfully infringed upon patent 362; damages for past infringements; triple this amount for the fact that these past infringements were willful; and either protection against future infringements via injunctive relief, or damages anticipating these future infringements, plus three times that amount for the fact that these future infringements will be willful.