The lawsuit, filed in a San Jose, California federal court, marks the first major legal battle among technology giants in social media and a major escalation of patent litigation that has already swept up the smartphone and tablet sectors and high-tech stalwarts such as Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.
Yahoo’s patent lawsuit follows Facebook’s announcement of plans for an initial public offering that could value the company at about $100 billion. A Facebook spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
“Facebook was not launched until 2004, 10 years after Yahoo was founded,” the complaint reads. “Facebook has since grown to be one of the most widely trafficked sites on the Internet. That growth, however, has been based in a large part on Facebook’s use of Yahoo’s patented technology.”
The complaint also quotes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as acknowledging that “getting there first is not what it’s all about.” Further on, it states, “Facebook’s entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles for and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo’s patented social networking technology.”
Yahoo’s suit, which seeks unspecified damages, comes at an awkward time for Facebook. The social networking giant is expected to launch an IPO in May to raise $5 billion. Yahoo, meanwhile, risks being seen as desperate in engaging in patent trolling as its revenues and market share continue to slip.