Facebook sued over like button

By James Riches topicIcon Social Media

Social network challenged by Dutch patent-holding company

Facebook is being taken to court by a Dutch company which claims it's 'like' button infringes a patent granted to a now-deceased programmer.

Rembrandt Social Media claims that Joannes Jozef Everardus van der Meer was granted his patents in 1998, five years before the start of the Facebook phenomenon. It states that the ideas concerned a site Mr van der Meer was working on called Surfbook, which allowed users to interact with friends and family and use a 'like' button to show their approval of certain material.

The inventor died in 2004, and the patents passed on to Rembrandt Social Media, which is now attempting to sue Facebook. It claims that the success of the site is partly down to the feature it is claimed Mr van der Meer created.

Furthermore, Rembrandt is also suggesting that Facebook knew of these patents and had indeed referenced them in the pursuit of further patents for itself.

This is the latest issue to befall Facebook in a turbulent few months for the site since its underwhelming stock market launch last year, which led to several leading figures within the company selling their shares.

Facebook remain silent

Facebook has responded to the action by saying it has no comment to make, leaving their plans for dealing with this case something of a mystery.

It is of course not the first time that Mark Zuckerberg's company has been accused of taking someone else's ideas, with the long-running feud between Facebook and the Winklevoss brothers gaining much media attention, but Rembrandt feels confident of success with this new claim.

Its lawyer Tom Melsheimer said: "We believe Rembrandt's patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence."

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: "This is of course not the first time Facebook has been challenged by those who claim their ideas were stolen, and it is unlikely to be the last. While they have not commented officially on this, you can be sure they have a plan in place to deal with it."