A lawsuit filed against Facebook in 2008 has had its day in court -- and lost.
Ohio-based Leader Technologies filed suit against Facebook, charging that it had infringed on their 2006 patent for "a method and system for the management and storage of electronic information” developed by the company's founder, Michael McKibben and Jeffrey R. Lamb. It took six days to hear the trial in a Delaware court, but in the end the eight-member jury ruled in Facebook's favor, finding that although patent infringement had taken place, the original patent was invalid.
The patent abstract describes the tool as: A data management tool. The tool is a unified, horizontal system for communications, organization, information processing, and data storage. The tool operates seamlessly with existing platforms, and is a common workflow layer that is automated with a scalable, relational database. The tool uses one or both of a relational and object database engine that facilitates at least many-to-many relationships among data elements. The highest contextual assumption is that there exists an entity that consists of one or more users. The data storage model first assumes that files are associated with the user. Thus, data generated by applications is associated with an individual, group of individuals, and topical content, and not simply with a folder, as in traditional systems.
Facebook general counsel Td Ullyot took the opportunity to criticize current patent law, saying, "Facebook is a strong advocate of legal reforms that would limit baseless patent claims such as this one, and in the meantime we will continue to defend vigorously any patent lawsuit filed against us.”
In recent years, many companies have been challenged by the practice of " patent squatting ," where a company files an overly broad patent, then relies on challenging other companies for infringement. Facebook has faced similar patent lawsuits, such as one from Phoenix Media, charging that Facebook had violated a patent covering the creation of individual personal pages for users.
The case is Leader Technologies Inc v Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-00862. The patent in question is U.S. Patent 7,139,761.