Facebook Faces Patent Suit Over Timeline, Like Button

By David Cohen 

Did the late Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer invent timeline and the like button? Van Der Meer died in June 2004, shortly after Facebook debuted at Harvard University, but a lawsuit filed by Rembrandt IP Management on behalf of the late computer scientist’s family is aimed at proving that claim.

NBC News reported that the suit is based on two patent applications Van Der Meer filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Sept. 1, 1998:

  • The first patent application was for a “Web page diary,” which allows users to “collect personal information and third-party content, organize the information chronologically on a personalized Web page, and share the information with a selected group of people, such as the end user’s friends, through the use of user-settable privacy levels.” According to NBC News, U.S. Patent No. 6,415,316 was issued July 2, 2002.
  • And the second patent application describes a method of automatically transferring content from a website to a user’s personal “Web page diary” with a click, allowing people to “collect interesting content as they browsed the Web.” NBC News reported that U.S. Patent No. 6,289,362 was issued Sept. 11, 2001.

As NBC News pointed out, the concepts in these patents apply across all social networks, but only Facebook and AddThis were named in the suit, although Thomas Melsheimer, one of the lawyers representing Rembrandt, told NBC News, “But that doesn’t mean that won’t happen.”

Readers: Do you think the name Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer will become quite familiar around Menlo Park in the coming weeks?

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