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Yahoo! tacks! two! more! patents! onto! Facebook lawsuit!

Denies FB's claims, moans about lack of integrity

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Yahoo! has slapped two more patents onto its list of grievances against Facebook in their patent battle, while denying the social network's claims and accusing it of not playing fair.

The web firm said in a court filing on Friday that the social network was actually infringing on 12 rather than just 10 of Yahoo!'s patents, and it denied that it was infringing on any of the counter-claimed patents alleged by Facebook.

Not content with just denying everything and laying a few more charges at Facebook's door, Yahoo! also accused the social network of being downright shady in its dealings.

The company said that Facebook had only recently bought a lot of the 10 patents it was asserting against it and alleged that Facebook had bought them just so it could sue Yahoo! right back – shocking behaviour!

"Eight of these patents were purchased by Facebook in the past five months, and several of these patents were purchased (independent of any separate technology acquisition or merger) after Yahoo! filed its complaint in this action. On information and belief, many, if not all, of these patents were acquired by Facebook for purposes of retaliation against Yahoo! in this case," the firm said in a court filing.

Yahoo! also claimed that it had had an agreement with Facebook to notify each other of possible IP infringements before resorting to the courts, and said the social network had broken that agreement when it sued Yahoo! back without telling it first.

To put the nail in Facebook's integrity coffin, Yahoo! also said that some of the patents the network was asserting were against aspects of its business that Facebook couldn't know anything about, so it was either stabbing in the dark or had gotten information illicitly.

"Facebook asserted its newly-acquired patents against aspects of Yahoo!'s products for which there is little to no publicly-available information. Unless Facebook has unlawfully acquired Yahoo! confidential business information, Facebook could not have developed a good-faith basis for many of the infringement allegations in its counterclaims," the filing said.

"Because Facebook’s infringement assertions appear to be based on nothing more than conjecture, assumptions, and unsupported inferences about how Yahoo!’s products may possibly operate and because Facebook’s allegations are the result of an insufficient pre-filing investigation, Yahoo! reserves its right to seek attorneys fees, sanctions, and such other relief as the court may deem proper."

For its part, Facebook was puzzled.

"We remain perplexed by Yahoo's erratic actions," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "We disagree with these latest claims and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously."

Yahoo!'s rather shrill claims and counter-claims smack of a wee bit of uncertainty in its actions. As an old-school web firm, it's pretty used to having upstarts roll over and pay up when it comes calling for cash. The suit is being seen in some quarters as a rather cynical grab by Yahoo! to get a few more bucks to support its restructuring and with Facebook's IPO coming up, it may not have been expecting a fight.

Facebook, however, seems very much up for a fight. This is its first big battle-line in the Great Patent Wars and it's going to make a stand. The social network has already snapped up 750 patents from IBM and another 650 from AOL (via Microsoft) to put in the artillery, just in case Yahoo! or anyone else thinks it'll be a soft touch in litigation skirmishes. ®

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