The LIKE Button which has become a culture of Facebook, has put the social networking giant in big problem. Facebook and AddThis are going to face patent infringement lawsuit demanded by Rembrandt Social Media, LP.
Inside Story of LIKE Button
A Dutch programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer on September 1, 1998 had filed for two patents 6,289,362 (SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR GENERATING, TRANSFERRING AND USING AN ANNOTATED UNIVERSAL ADDRESS) and 6,415,316 (METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR IMPLEMENTING A WEB PAGE DIARY) as a part of his social diary project called Surfbook. The patents were granted on September 11, 2001 and July 2, 2002 respectively. The patents are about a method that allowed users to LIKE each others’ content.
Van Der Meer, however passed away in June 2004 and could not use his patents for his project. Now, those patents are with Rembrandt Social Media, LP which now wants undisclosed amount from Facebook and AddThis, as royalties for using the patents without their permission.
You can read the complete copy of original complaint filed on February 4, 2013 at Eastern District of Virginia.
Tom Melsheimer who is Rembrandt’s Attorney for the lawsuit said :
He (Van Der Meer) really created the concept of a diary on the Internet. To describe it in a general way, he had the notion of being able to publish and share information with a select group of people and the ability to link in other types of information. It was the beginnings of what we would say is social networking.
I would distinguish Rembrandt from other companies that buy up patents. Rembrandt is pretty committed to the idea of finding inventors that have a compelling story to tell, and a patent that is important or core to some widely used technology. At trial, I expects Van Der Meer’s widow and some of his former colleagues to testify about the importance of his invention.
The way the patent laws work, and have worked for 200 years, is that when someone else uses it, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they owe a reasonable royalty. It’s not necessarily a function of bad intent or malicious planning. The notion that the original inventor didn’t succeed in commercializing the invention is, legally speaking, not relevant.
About Rembrandt Social Media, LP
Rembrandt is a very successful patent-holding company established in 2004. By 2008, it has raised over USD $150 Million to purchase patents of its choice. The company is known to hire best-legal attorneys to prosecute its lawsuits.