Lawsuits happen all the time, especially where giant names and tons of money are involved. But this lawsuit is rather unusual: Facebook has been sued because it is accused of infringing on the patents of a Dutch programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer with its “Like” button. Joannes Jozef has been dead for more than 8 years and the company that owns his intellectual property is behind the lawsuit.
So why the sudden lawsuit? BBC reports that Rembrandt Social Media holds the patents on behalf of Joannes Jozef and has contested that the Facebook “Like” button bears a remarkable resemblance to what’s described in patents of Joannes Jozef, which is “an important foundation of social media as we know it”, says Rembrandt Social Media. The lawsuit has been filed in a federal court in Virginia. Joannes Jozef’s widow and his colleagues are expected to testify in the court.
Rembrandt Social Media claims that Joannes Jozef created a social diary service he called Surfboard and was awarded the patents in 1998. A critical factor in the lawsuit is Rembrandt Social Media’s claim about Facebook knowing the patents to be of Joannes Jozef as they made reference to them in Facebook’s own patent application. Facebook has not made any comments about the lawsuit, and it is unclear at this point as to what will be the outcome of the trial. What needs to be seen is what the jury will decide.