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Yahoo say Facebook are infringing 10 to 20 patents

Yahoo are claiming that Facebook are infringing on 10 to 20 patents which they own. The NyTimes say that the two companies spoke on Monday to discuss the concerns and the sources involved in leaking the information are not authorised to discuss the issue publicly.

Yahoo are asking Facebook to pay licensing fees or they could risk facing a lawsuit. A Yahoo spokesman said in an emailed statement “Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property. We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights.”

Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman said “Yahoo contacted us the same time they called The New York Times and so we haven’t had the opportunity to fully evaluate their claims.”

2011 and 2012 are seeing a rise in patent claims, with many companies taking legal action to protect their ownership. Apple and Samsung have been involved in some of the highest profile legal action, with sales bans being placed on certain products in various parts of the world. Many of the larger organisations are buying smaller companies to get access to their patent portfolio.

Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility for the same reason last year. Apple and Microsoft fronted a group of companies to acquire 6,000 patents owned by Nortel, costing around $4.5 billion.

The NY times add “It is unclear when Yahoo and Facebook began discussions over possible infringement of the former’s intellectual property. But Yahoo’s saber-rattling happens to come at a delicate time for Facebook, which is preparing to go public this spring in one of the most anticipated market debuts in years.

Yahoo talked up the value of its more than 1,000 patents late last year, amid a strategic review that included potentially selling a stake to outside investors.

The patents at issue include some of the first awarded to Yahoo, people close to the company said. It also gained a trove of intellectual property from the 2003 purchase of Overture Services, a search-advertising company that sued companies like Google over patent issues.

In its statement, Yahoo said that other unspecified Web technology companies have already licensed some of the patents in question.

It is unclear how much money Yahoo could wrangle out of any potential agreement with Facebook. After purchasing Overture, Yahoo settled the acquired company’s battle with Google in 2004, receiving 2.7 million shares in the search giant before it went public.”

Kitguru says: Legal action could be forthcoming.

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