Facebook is being sued over its “like” button by a patent-holding company that claims Facebook ripped off its technology.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia by Rembrandt Social Media, the owner of patents filed by a deceased Dutch programmer named Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer.
According to the lawsuit, van Der Meer pioneered technology in the 1990s that today is being used on Facebook.
In 1998, van Der Meer applied to patent a technology that allowed users to create online diaries and a patent for a “related set of technologies that enabled 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,” according to court documents.
Essentially, van Der Meer’s patent envisioned what Facebook today calls its “share” and “like” buttons, the lawsuit said.
In 2004, van Der Meer, doing business under his company, Aduna, registered the domain Surfbook.com. However, he died that year and was unable to create his social network, court documents said.
The lawsuit claims Facebook was aware of the patents from the 1990s and has cited them in its own patent applications.
“Although Mark Zuckerberg did not start what became Facebook until 2003, it bears a remarkable resemblance, both in terms of its functionality and technical implementation, to the personal Web page diary that van Der Meer had invented years earlier,” court documents said.
Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also names AddThis, a social bookmarking service that was an early partner of Facebook.
Rembrandt Social Media is seeking damages, interest and courts costs, according to the court documents.