Patent Lawyers Say a Late Programmer Invented Like Button

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Fish & Richardson intellectual property firm has filed a lawsuit against Facebook and AddThis for violating two

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patents held by the family of a deceased computer programmer. Joannes Jozef Everadus Van Der Meer was issued two patents, the first (U.S. Patent No. 6,415,316) was issued July 2nd, 2002, and the second (U.S. Patent No. 6,289,362) on September 11th, 2001. Notably both were awarded before Facebook’s emergence at Harvard in 2004. The first described a feature similar to Facebook’s timeline, in which users could network with each other, share items with friends, and create a chronological personal webpage, or web diary for events of their choosing. The second centered around functionality similar to the Like button where with one click you can add things to your timeline. Van Der Meer bought the domain surfbook.com, and was working on developing a pilot of his vision when he died in June 2004.

Rembrandt, a company representing individual patent holders and Van Der Meer’s family, alleges that Facebook is infringing on these two patents. Rembrandt further alleges that Facebook was aware of Van Der Meer’s patents, since one of their own patents references Van Der Meer’s. Rembrandt is seeking reasonable royalties for the infringement. Previously, Rembrandt has been very successful in cases similar to this, winning $41 million from Ciba contact lens maker in 2008. Additionally, the firm representing the case is one of the largest practicing intellectual property in the nation.

Source courtesy of NBC News. Image courtesy of Mashable.