Was the ‘like’ button that people love so much on Facebook patented by a Dutch computer programmer 15 years ago? The family of Jos Van Der Meer, a computer scientist, programmer and inventor who died in 2004, are suing Facebook for allegedly infringing his patents with the US social networking site’s “like” and “share” buttons, court documents seen on Monday said.
The suit for unspecified damages claims Facebook’s infringement of two related patents filed by Van Der Meer, who is described as “a pioneer in the development of user-friendly web-based technologies”, in 1998. One patent “claimed a novel technology that gave ordinary people the ability to create and use what Van Der Meer called a personal diary,” court papers said. The system allowed people to “collect personal information and third-party content, organise the information chronologically on a personalised web page and share the information with a selected group of people, such as the user’s friends, through the use of user-settable privacy levels.”
The second patent is for technology that enables “the automatic transfer, at a user’s request, of third-party content from a content provider’s website to the user’s personal diary page” — akin to Facebook’s “share” or “like” buttons.
Rembrandt Social Media, an affiliate of Rembrandt IP Management LLC, filed the lawsuit Feb. 5, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The lawsuit says Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook has infringed two Rembrandt patents, U.S. Patent No. 6,415,316 and No. 6,289,362. Vienna, Va.-based social media company Add This Inc. is accused of infringing the ‘362 patent. Both patents originally were issued to inventor “Jos” van der Meer more than 10 years ago.