Yahoo v. Facebook: A Breakdown

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Written By admin at Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Yahoo on Monday swatted Facebook with a lawsuit alleging the social-networking service got a “free ride” by violating 10 Yahoo patents. We’ve broken down the allegations by patent, for your viewing pleasure.

News Feed:

One of Facebook’s most popular features, the News Feed launched in 2006. It funnels the activity of a users’ friends into one feed. Yahoo says Facebook’s News Feed and Wall infringes on two patents, which you can find here and here.


Yahoo claims the format of many of Facebook’s advertisements, such as the Facebook’s Premium Video Comment Ads, was invented by Yahoo. Many advertisements on Facebook, Yahoo adds, are paid for on a “pay-per-click” basis, meaning advertisers pay Facebook each time a user clicks on the advertisement.

Facebook chooses which ads to display to a user based in part on how much the advertiser is willing to pay per click, according to Yahoo. The ads are then organized on the page to maximize ad revenue. Yahoo says it invented the methods for displaying and arranging the ads.

Yahoo alleges that Facebook is stepping on three of its patents related to these functions. Check them out here, here and here.

Click fraud:

In a “pay-per-click” system, competitors can drive up each others’ costs by clicking one another’s ads. Facebook uses statistical methods to analyze the validity of the clicks. Yahoo says those methods infringe on one of its patents.

Privacy controls:

Yahoo says Facebook is infringing two patents that allow users to customize how information is shared. The first is for a system in which a user to share different sets of information with other users, based on shared interests or activities. The second is for a setup where users to preview the information that they display to others.

Social networking:

Yahoo says Facebook pages and Facebook groups infringe on a 2010 patent for, essentially, a network of companies and groups.


Yahoo says Facebook messages infringe a 2008 patent for a system allowing an instant messaging user to exchange messages with an email user.

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