Facebook infringed on patents held with the aid of a Dutch laptop programmer who tried to launch an identical site called “Surf book” greater than a decade ago, according to a lawsuit heard by means of a federal jury Wednesday.
The civil trial used to be underway in U.S. District court in Alexandria, where social media giant facebook is being sued through a holding firm called Rembrandt Social Media.
The lawsuit alleges that a Dutch laptop whiz, Joanne’s Van Der Meer, filed for patents in 1998, claiming strategies for working a web-based personal diary. The patents had been issued in 2001 and 2002, sooner than facebook debuted in 2003.
But Van Der Meer’s web site, Surf book, by no means obtained off the ground. Van Der Meer died in 2004.
Menlo Park, California-based facebook says the patents should never have been issued to Van Der Meer. The company argues that the ideas and techniques put ahead in Van Der Meer’s patents have been glaring to folks in the trade.
The corporate fought unsuccessfully for greater than a year to keep the case from attending to a jury. And it’s odd for patent-infringement complaints to make it all the way to a federal jury trial. Jason Ratingen, a law professor on the university of Iowa who specializes in patent regulation, said that roughly one % of the lots of infringement lawsuits filed once a year turn out in that team.
Facebook, a universal target of patent court cases, has generally been a hit in fending them off. Ratingen mentioned he could find just one different case where facebook was the primary defendant in a patent-infringement trial that went to a jury. Facebook gained that case.
As soon as a case gets to a jury, although, it turns into unpredictable, Ratingen mentioned.
One issue that will work in Facebook’s preferred is what is famous in patent law as “hindsight bias,” Ratingen said. Jurors taking a look back on the rapidly evolving historical past of social media and Facebook’s ubiquitous standing could conclude that the improvement of web pages like facebook was inevitable and that the tips in Van Der Meer’s patents weren’t distinctive.
The plaintiff “has to overcome the tendency to say, ‘hey, it was all going on this direction anyway,'” Ratingen stated.
Any other consider Facebook’s desire is a pretrial ruling from decide T.S. Ellis III that bars Rembrandt’s expert on attainable damages from testifying. In consequence, it is doubtful what sort of judgment Rembrandt could win if the jury finds that facebook has infringed. In court papers, although, facebook has expressed difficulty that it could actually still be subject to tens of millions of greenbacks in damages.
Within the courtroom, more than 30 three-ring binders filled with criminal paperwork relating the case line judge Ellis’ desk, while a jury of 4 girls and three men sort thru dense testimony about device code and data configuration. Groups of legal professionals from one of the most nations’ prime patent-regulation firms clog the well of the court.
A professional testifying for the plaintiff, university of Maryland professor Jennifer Go beck, mentioned the technical facet of the infringement facilities on a know-how utilized by facebook known as Bagpipe, which speeds the way in which internet sites are loaded.
More normally, Rembrandt says features on facebook, together with the “like” and “share” buttons, as well as adjustable privacy settings had been all anticipated underneath Van Der Meer’s patents.
“Despite the fact that Mark Zuckerberg didn’t start what was Facebook except 2003, it bears an outstanding resemblance, each in terms of its performance and technical implementation, to the private net web page diary that Van Der Meer had invented years previous,” Rembrandt’s lawyers wrote in their complaint.
Rembrandt, in line with its web site, is a company that specializes in filing proceedings on behalf of patent holders. It has been derided by means of critics as a “patent troll” that tries to extort hefty settlements from successful firms by digging up imprecise patents and claiming infringement.