All Your Social Networks Belong to Yahoo

A blog about business and economics.
March 13 2012 3:03 PM

All Your Social Networks Belong to Yahoo

Yahoo is in pretty dire straights as a business but still has a lot of employees on hand, so I guess leveling this lawsuit alleging that all social networks everywhere (but particularly Facebook) violate their patented social networking "technology" is a smart move:

Facebook's entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles for and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology.
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I think I'm going to decide that I hope Facebook refuses to settle this suit and then somehow Yahoo ends up winning, letting them turn around and sue Google and every other proprietor of a system that "allows users to create profiles" and "connect with ... persons and businesses" on the planet. It seems to me that a totally absurd result of that scale might be what it takes to get patent reform rolling in a serious way.

On the legal merits, it seems to me that this basic social networking "technology" was part of early dial-up ISPs such as Prodigy and CompuServe long before the modern era of social networking sites.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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