As Facebook readies itself for an initial public offering this spring, tensions are running high in Silicon Valley. A bit too high, perhaps. Yahoo has just sued Facebook for patent infringement over 10 patents that involve methods to advertise online. A similar suit occurred in 2004, when Yahoo sued Google just prior to its IPO. Yahoo has recently come under the management of a new CEO, and it looks like he means business. After initially becoming the internet’s main source of networking and online searching, Yahoo has fallen in recent years to Google and Facebook. A Facebook spokesman recently told the L.A. Times “We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation.”
Apparently this kind of lawsuit has been on the rise in recent months in Silicon Valley. Most of these suits come from firms that buy technology patents to create large IP portfolios. The Yahoo suit is more of a surprise, although the cozy business relationship implied by Facebook’s statement is probably a bit of an exaggeration.