Yahoo vs. Facebook: Let patent insanity reign

Yahoo is claiming that Facebook has violated 10 of its software patents. Can you say 'desperate move by dying Web 1.0 giant'?

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On the other hand, Mark Cuban -- who was made a billionaire several times over when Yahoo purchased Broadcast.com from him in 1999 -- is rooting for Yahoo to "crush" Facebook, but not because he thinks Yahoo is right in trying to lay claim to these 10 processes. It's because he wants to see the entire software patent model come crashing down and thinks it will take something of this magnitude to do it. Cuban writes:

Change is needed. However, its not going to come from our government. ... it's going to take a consumer uprising to cause change. What better way to create a consumer uprising than to financially cripple and possibly put out of business the largest social network on the planet ?

Matthew Yglesias of Slate is right there with Cuban, hoping for a Patent Pearl Harbor that shakes some sense into Congress to reform the USPTO:

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.

Cnet's Paul Sloan, however, thinks Facebook will suck it up and buy those patents from Yahoo for a few billion in spare change. Why? Because it doesn't want to screw up its upcoming IPO, and a few billion is chicken feed compared to the $100 billion or more going public will bring.

To me, Yahoo's suit smacks of a desperate move from a dying company. It doesn't mean it won't be successful, though. It just means people in the know will think even less of the company, if that's possible.

As for patent reform? I think I've given up the hope that our Congress will ever do anything, let alone anything smart.

Is Yahoo right to sue Facebook? Present your arguments to the court below or file your briefs to cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Yahoo vs. Facebook: Let patent insanity reign," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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