Facebook has beaten off a dead Dutch inventor in a lawsuit targeting The Social Network'sTM Timeline, Newsfeed, Groups and Photo Sharing features.
At issue in the lawsuit were two patents by Dutch computer scientist Joannes Van Der Meer, who died in 2004, which the licensing litigant Rembrandt Social Media said Facebook had infringed.
Van Der Meer's patents include this one, Method and Apparatus for Implementing a Web Page Diary, which Rembrandt says predicts many of Facebook's features.
He had planned to create a site called Surfbook, and some of the features mentioned in the patent do seem rather Facebook-like. Here's an excerpt from his description:
“the user can also jot down reminders, enter appointments, and birthdays, etc. for dates. A user is allowed to choose a visual 'theme' for the pages of his diary. This theme can be changed at any time by the user and reflects how the user wants to present himself and his diary to the world. The user can set various levels of privacy for different portions of his diary.”
Facebook's Bigpipe pagelet serving system, designed to speed up the loading of pages, also came under the sweep of the suit.
However, the Eastern District of Virginia jury decided that the patents were “shabby” and shouldn't have been granted. ®