Posted October 9, 2009 3:26 pm by with 4 comments

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facebook2Facebook is no stranger to lawsuits. And now they’re being slapped with two more, for allegedly infringing the patents of Japanese company Mekiki and Phoenix Media/Communications, publisher of the Boston Phoenix. Both allege that Facebook’s core social networking capabilities violate their patents.

Mekiki, owners of the Japanese social networking site contends that they have three patents on adding friends of friends as contacts on a social network. The patents, one granted in 2005 and two granted this year, are for a “human relationships registering system.” They’re seeking an injunction to stop Facebook from using their technology.

Tele-Publishing, a subsidiary of Phoenix Media, has an even older—and potentially even more devastating—patent they claim Facebook is infringing on. Filed in 2001, the patent allegedly covers a “computer network and method of creating and sharing a personal page” securely.

Facebook commented on the Phoenix case to TechCrunch, to say that it’s “without merit and will be fought vigorously,” and declined to comment on the Mekiki case.

If these cases have legal merit, either of them could undermine the basis of Facebook’s system (especially the Phoenix case). If the courts uphold Phoenix’s patent claim, Facebook—and all other websites—could no longer allow people to create a profile and share it securely with their friends. (Finding new friends through mutual friends might become harder if Mekiki wins.)

What do you think? Is there any merit to the cases? Does Facebook have anything to worry about?

  • This is such a joke. I mean seriously. How can they even truly get a patent on some of these ideas. Perhaps they can own the underlying structure and programming, but the actual idea in the end result is absurd. Not being allowed to follow friends of friends? That would apply to virtually every single social networking platform in existence!

    It’s almost as bad as that bozo who was trying to trademark “SEO”. Wonder what ever happened to him…
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..Lotto Max Contest – Help Us Win A Trip To Jamaica! =-.

  • Oddly enough, Scott, the SEO trademark guy was just what I was thinking of as I wrote this. It looks like the trademark office said his description of services was “confusingly written,” and the proposed mark is “merely descriptive.” But as of June, he’s still trying.

  • Thats too funny. Great minds think alike I suppose – I think he needs to give up and move onto other things, he’ll have a bounty on his head if he ever succeeds I am sure.

    I personally am thinking of trademarking “orange” and then suing Tropicana, McCain, and all those others who sell the juice. Can probably sue for a fortune from all the produce retailers as well.

    Sure I’ll lose, but at least I’ll be famous for a while, and lots of people will blog about me. 😉 That could be some potentially good link bait.
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..A Man and his Elephant =-.

  • This I cannot believe, Face Book disabled my account 2 weeks ago and will not give me a reason for such and will NOT talk to me without my first submitting a copy of my drivers license, how does this help to identify my ownership of the account? do sent this seem a little strange?

    Now, I learn that Face Book is being sued by another Social Networking Site for copy wright infringement !!! Where is this leading? So, Face Book can do what they want & how they want and not suffer repercussions? They treat some of their members very badly by their practices.

    I have well, last count, 4000 friends on Face Book and run a group and admin for 5 others, 2500 friends on my clan list.

    If anyone has any advice, Please do send it to me. Could the users that are having their accounts disabled sue Face Book for re-in statement?