Elaine Cheung

Social networking giant, Facebook, is being sued by Rembrant Social Media LP, a patent-holding company. Rembrant has brought on this lawsuit on behalf of deceased Dutch programmer Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer.

The lawsuit was filed in Eastern District of Virginia, one of the fastest patent agendas in the country. The suit cites patent infringements against Facebook and another social media company, AddThis. They claim that these two companies had taken ideas from Van Der Meer’s patents of ‘Method and Apparatus for Implementing a Web Page Diary’ (Facebook’s status update system) and ‘System and Method for Generating, Transferring and Using an Annotated Universal Address’ (Facebook’s ‘like’ button).

Based on legal documents filed in court, Van Der Meer was granted these patents in 1998, six years before Facebook’s existence. The Dutch programmer used these ideas for his social diary network, Surfbook. The patents were given to Rembrant when Van Der Meer passed away in 2004.

According to the papers, Facebook was aware of Ver Der Meer’s patents as it was referred to in their own patent applications for social networking technology.

"We believe Rembrandt's patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence," said attorney Tom Melsheimer, who is representing Rembrandt in the lawsuit.

In 2012, 20 patent lawsuits were filed again Facebook. One in particular, Yahoo v. Facebook, in which Yahoo claimed that social networking technology it had first patented was the foundation for Facebook’s entire social networking model, was later quietly settled.