As TechCrunch has uncovered, someone has filed to have a Facebook patent declared invalid at the U.S. Patent Office. Everyone’s best guess as to who would do this seems simple: Yahoo. The patent war between them rages on, so the fact that they would make this filing makes sense. They have already claimed that many of Facebook’s patents should be ruled invalid, even appealing before a federal judge to have them removed. But Yahoo has denied that they filed the request.
Documents at the U.S. patent office indicate that a filing for re-examination was made yesterday for a patent that Facebook holds concerning news feeds. It is one of the patents that Facebook has used to countersue Yahoo with in the ongoing patent struggle.
The papers were filed by Gregory Hunt of the law firm Jenkins, Wilson, Taylor and Hunt. No one knows yet, what party they represent. When TechCrunch contacted Yahoo, they said that they had no part in the filing. They are the most obvious candidate, as companies being sued for infringement will often request to have patents reviewed to try and have them declared invalid. If the Patent office rules that an error was made, or the patent already exists, then it cannot be used in court.
The patent in question is no. 7,669,123 – a patent for “dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network.” According to the filing it should be thrown out because it is based on a patent that was previously submitted but is yet to be approved.
Since Yahoo has denied making the filing, it could be a third party claiming ownership of the patent. This could mean big trouble for Facebook, if another party is trying to get involved with their patents. It could be declared invalid for a completely different reason, and Facebook would not be allowed to use it in the counter-suit against Yahoo.
If you’re feeling froggy, you can search through the full statement for clues as to who is behind this. The details will probably be uncovered in the next few days.TechCrunch]