Facebook Wins Patent Lawsuit

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By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

-Legal Icon-A Delaware court has knocked down a claim against Facebook for patent violation made by little-known software company Leader Technologies.

The lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Ohio-based firm alleged that Facebook had infringed one of its patents relating “to a method and system for the management and storage of electronic information.” The 2006 patent document says the “invention relates to new structures and methods for creating relationships between users, applications, files, and folders.”

After a six-day hearing, the jury ruled in Facebook’s favor today. Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, welcomed the decision and called on legislators to reform patent law to reduce baseless claims. “From the day this lawsuit was filed, we said the patent was invalid and the case was without merit and we are gratified the jury agreed,” he said in a statement sent to AllFacebook. “Facebook is a strong advocate of legal reforms that would limit baseless patent claims such as this one, and in the meantime we will continue to defend vigorously any patent lawsuit filed against us.”

You can read the patent document below for yourself to judge its merit, but as a general comment it seems so-called patent squatting is a growing problem for digital businesses. It’s easy for companies or individuals to take out an overly broad patent and then claim infringement. While the courts would generally throw out baseless claims, it takes time and money to defend the claims and many cases are settled out of court. This is not the first intellectual property claim that Facebook has been forced to defend.