Oops! Yahoo blunders in Facebook patent squabble

Yahoo claimed Facebook had fraudulently filed some of its patents, but Facebook hit back by proving Yahoo hadn't even checked the records to see if it was right.

Yahoo's lawyers are eating humble pie after the company made accusations that Facebook filed patents fraudulently.

Facebook's lawyers not only managed to prove that the patents in question are legitimate, but that Yahoo's lawyers failed to check the records in the first place. Yahoo was unavailable for comment at the time of writing. Facebook declined to comment.

FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller summed up:

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.

Yahoo fired off a suit in Facebook's direction claiming the social network infringed a patent that in effect makes Facebook work. Yahoo claims it owns the entire social network model, and Facebook -- being a social network -- apparently infringes those patents.

The patents relate to the "controlled distribution of user profiles over a network," which will surely sound like a social network model to most. Chris Chea filed the patent under his name, but Yahoo claimed it was invalid because Joseph Liauw was named on the first patent but left out of the other.

Yahoo had a field day after it found Liauw was named in the second patent by mistake. Yahoo said the only way his name should have been removed from the patent without invalidating the invention is through a signed affidavit.

The former Web portal giant went on to claim Facebook had been "false and deceptive because no Oath or Declaration by Mr Liauw was ever submitted."

Yahoo thought it had hit a home run. At one point, Yahoo pointed the finger at Facebook and said:

Facebook failed to perform a good faith investigation into its counterclaims prior to asserting them in retaliation against Yahoo!

But it turns out Yahoo's lawyers didn't even bother looking for the affidavit. Facebook's legal team said there had been no request from Yahoo to access to the signed document -- which in litigation terms is like throwing a custard pie on Yahoo's face.

Pot, kettle, black.

From the filing, via AllThingsD:

Yahoo claims that two of the ten 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 publically available Patent Office records, because these records include the exact sworn statement from Mr. Liauw Yahoo claims is missing.

It should probably come as little surprise that interim Yahoo chief executive Ross Levinsohn may be seeking to resolve the Facebook patent battle. The lawsuit was a busted flush to begin with, masked in desperation to get Yahoo back on the rails after its catastrophic decline.

Both Yahoo and Facebook were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Yahoo facepalms in Facebook patent fraud claim."

 

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