Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California


Yahoo Seeks Patent Proof From Facebook

Yahoo is threatening to file a lawsuit against Facebook for rights to patents. 

Struggling in popularity and revenue, Yahoo is trying a new tactic to get its face back into the spotlight. By way of e-mail, Yahoo threatened to sue the world’s largest social networking site, Facebook, for allegedly infringing on patent rights.

Yahoo is threatening to sue Facebook for allegedly violating patent rights. (Photo courtesy AP)
Yahoo is threatening to sue Facebook for allegedly violating patent rights. (Photo courtesy AP)

Yahoo seeks to discover the truth behind Facebook and whether some of its popularity stems from information and technology that the eight-year-old website stole from Yahoo, which launched in 1994.  

“We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights,” Yahoo said in a statement. 

The patent claims could cause trouble for Facebook, which is seeking to complete an initial public offering in the coming months. 

At the start of 2012, Facebook had only 56 U.S. patents issued to its name. This number is very small in comparison to the likes of Yahoo as well as Google.

By comparison, Yahoo owns more than 1,000 patents. The company has not publicly identified which patents it believes Facebook is using, but the dispute boils down to 10 to 20 patents covering online advertising, messaging and other Internet services including social networking, according to an anonymous source who spoke to the New York Times. 

Internet users can look at the latest tussle in two ways.

The first is that the latest claim adds to criticism of Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg who took ideas from other portals, a claim exposed in the 2010 movie, “The Social Network.”

The second is that it is Yahoo’s latest hope to piggyback on its more popular rival. Yahoo’s revenue has been steadily falling during the past three years while Facebook’s revenue has escalated from $272 million to $3.7 billion. Yahoo’s stock has not traded above $20 in over three years. 

The time of the threat by Yahoo comes at no surprise. Facebook may be more inclined to work out a licensing agreement rather than risk a legal battle leading up to its anticipated stock market debut. 

As of now, it is unclear how much Yahoo could make off of a potential deal, but shareholders are hopeful. 

“As a shareholder, I am happy they are going after Facebook,” said Eric Jackson, a managing member of the Hedge Fund Ironfire Capital. “It’s a perfectly legitimate thing for them to do.”


Facebook Going Public

Facebook Settles Over Privacy Deception Charges

Too Much Time on Facebook?


Great article! Very well-written and insightful. I have instantly become a fan of this journalist.

Leave a comment

The Tease: April 17, 2014

04/17/14 | 5:38 p.m. PDT

X-Men director faces molestation charges; a new planet was discovered; and the owner of Irwindale's Sriracha factory may relocate --...

'Suspicious' Easter Candy Prompts Post Office Evacuation

04/17/14 | 1:24 p.m. PDT

Fire and police crews responded to the incident, which also prompted temporary road closures.

Payan X

Cowtown Singles Square Dance Club Isn't Just About The Dancing

Residents Re-Landscape Gardens To Stand The Drought

Slacklining Finds Its Way To Santa Monica Beach

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.

Disgraced Bell Admin Rizzo: 12 Years in Prison

By Kayla Colin
04/16/14 | 9:47 a.m. PDT

"I am very, very sorry," Rizzo told the court before his sentencing.

New Branch of Northgate Market Opens in South Los Angeles

By Tiffany Taylor
04/14/14 | 9:43 a.m. PDT

The new Northgate Gonzalez Market will provide healthier, fresher food options and more jobs for the community.