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Facebook facing legal action for ‘like’ button over patent claim

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By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

February 11, 2013 | 2 min read

It has been announced that Facebook could be facing legal action over its ‘like’ button, with claims that the patent belongs to a dead Dutch programmer called Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer.

Patent-holding company Rembrandt Social Media has said that the success of Facebook is based on the patent, which was created by van Der Meer for network Surfbook before he died.

It also claims that Facebook is aware of the patents, having cited them when creating its own patent applications for technologies.

A law suit has been filed by the company, through legal firm Fish and Richardson, in Virginia.

John-Paul Rooney is a partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers and specialises in electronics and software patents, said: “The potential for a ruling that would call for Facebook to drastically alter its user interface in order to remove the ‘like’ button and the other features outlined in the case is most unlikely. As the features are so closely associated with the Facebook brand and user experience, it is likely an out-of-court settlement will be reached allowing the company to continue using them. It is also possible that Facebook could acquire the patent rights in view of these brand associations.

“The patent holding company is likely seeking financial and factual recognition of the registered features, in order to do sufficient justice to Mr. van Der Meer’s efforts and memory. Once this has been secured, assuming their case is strong enough, it is likely that the status quo will resume.”

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