San Francisco - Yahoo has demanded licensing fees from
Facebook for use of its technology, the companies said on Monday, potentially
engulfing social media in the patent battles and lawsuits raging across much of
the tech sector.
Yahoo has asserted claims on patents that include the
technical mechanisms in Facebook ads, privacy controls, news feed and
messaging service, according to a source briefed on the matter.
Representatives from the two companies met on Monday and the
talks involved 10 to 20 of Yahoo’s patents, said the source, who was not aware
of what specific dollar demands Yahoo may have made for licenses.
Yahoo did not elaborate in an emailed statement on details
of its discussions with Facebook, but indicated it would not flinch at taking
the social networking giant to court over its patents.
Yahoo said other companies have already licensed some of the
technologies at issue, and that it would act unilaterally if Facebook refused
to pay for a patent license.
“Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees
and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property,” the company said.
The meeting between the two companies was first reported by
the New York Times.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “Yahoo contacted us at the same
time they called the New York Times and so we haven’t had the opportunity to
fully evaluate their claims.”
Should Yahoo wind up suing Facebook, it would mark the first
major legal battle among technology giants in the social media sphere and a
major escalation of patent litigation that has already swept up the smartphone
and tablet sectors and high-tech stalwarts such as Apple, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility.
Yahoo's patent claims follow Facebook's announcement of plans
for an initial public offering (IPO) that could value the company at about $100bn.
Several social networking companies, including Facebook,
have seen an uptick in patent claims asserted against them as they move through
the IPO process.
However, most of those lawsuits have been filed by patent
aggregators that buy up intellectual property to squeeze value from it via
licensing deals, and none by a large tech company such as Yahoo.