Yahoo Interim CEO Explores Settlement In Patent-Infringement Suit; Facebook Seeks Dismissal

By David Cohen 

Will a new chief executive officer bring new hopes for a settlement in the patent-infringement brouhaha between Yahoo and Facebook? Yahoo Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn (pictured) reportedly reached out to the social network in hopes of a settlement, after taking over for former CEO Scott Thompson.

AllThingsD reported that Facebook is pushing for dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Yahoo in March, disputing the search engine giant’s accusation that the social network did not file an inventor affidavit with the Patent Office related to two of the patents in question, and saying that Yahoo had “no coherent theory or facts suggesting deceptive intent.”

Facebook wrote in its filing, as reported by AllThingsD:

Yahoo claims that two of the 10 patents Facebook asserts are unenforceable due to inequitable conduct. But all of these allegations are unsupportable and/or deficient. First, Yahoo claims these patents do not list Joseph Liauw as an inventor, and that there is no sworn statement by Mr. Liauw in the Patent Office records explaining his omission. Yahoo’s claim is demonstrably false. Yahoo made this allegation without actually reviewing the publicly available Patent Office records, because these records include the exact sworn statement from Mr. Liauw Yahoo claims is missing.

Florian Mueller of Foss Patents chimed in, as reported by ZDNet’s Between the Lines:

Yahoo’s lawyers alleged deception when they simply failed to do their job. Facebook obtained the record and provided it to the court, and in the process found out that nobody had even accessed (!) the record before.

It now appears that Yahoo, not Facebook, “failed to perform a good-faith investigation”. And while Facebook may have had “little to no publicly available information” to rely on in connection with how Yahoo’s servers operate (a separate issue I’m not going to digress into here), the patent file history that Yahoo failed to look up was publicly available (on request).

This is astonishing.

Readers: Do you think Levinsohn will be smart enough to reach a deal with Facebook and cut Yahoo’s losses, or will this lawsuit continue?