Who Is The Real Copy Cat – Facebook Or Yahoo?

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The tussle between Yahoo and Facebook over Patent issues is heating up with each passing day as both the companies have still not come to the point of intimacy. Yahoo is continuously threatening Facebook that it may be liable to take some stiff legal action against it if it not resolves the patent issue soon.

Unfortunately, a twist arises in tussle as Friendster founder – Jonathan Abrams – has stated that Yahoo too had copied Friendster feature  for its Yahoo 360 which is now owned by Facebook.

“I don’t think Facebook really copied anything From Yahoo,” Abrams Tweeted, “but Yahoo once copied Friendster (whose patents FB now owns)”

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Apparently, Abrams is right up to some extent as Friendster had got its first patent on social networking technology namely “A System, Method and Apparatus for Connecting Users in an Online Computer System Based on Their Relationships within Social Networks” in 2006, which Friendster filed back in 2003.

One will be surprised to know that after denying the offer for the buyout by Google – which is considered as one of the worst decision in Silicon Valley history – Friendster was granted many patents in the social media arena. In 2009 MOL global acquired Friendster for $26.4 million.

Later, Facebook acquired Friendster’s patents from its parent company MOL global for $40 million. Currently, those patents are worth over $100 million.

However, Yahoo 360 was officially closed by Yahoo on July 13th 2009 – just before Facebook purchased the Friendster’s patents. So, the ball is still in Yahoo’s court as it would be quite difficult for Facebook to prove that Yahoo ever leveraged over such patents for any of its services. Its indeed difficult for Facebook to prove such allegations in the court of law.

Adding further; Yahoo had nice experience of making money from the companies who are launching their IPO for the first time in the market. As it had already sued Google over several patent issues at the time of its IPO filing, which was later settled down as Google offered loads of shares to Yahoo.

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I feel Facebook should ask Microsoft to intervene the issue as Microsoft had already guarding Facebook from getting acquired by some of the industry giants by purchasing 1.6 percent of the Facebook share back in 2007. In addition, Microsoft holds 10,000 of patents compared to Yahoo and Facebook that have 1,000 and 20 patents respectively. Besides, Microsoft has also got strategic tie-up with Yahoo for search engine and may influence Yahoo to transfer few patents to third-party like Facebook.

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