By taking a look at the assignees and purchase history of the above patents, the first interesting fact that comes to the fore is that none of them originated from IBM -- this seems to indicate that Facebook's massive purchase of the IBM patents was both a bulwark against future patent litigation as well as a scare tactic to signal the stirring of a sleeping giant. Truth be told, the massive patent purchase move was one that Facebook should have taken long ago, especially considering the feverish patent trolling wars among high-tech giants.
Regardless of whether Facebook considered itself the Switzerland of the patent world, impervious to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or somehow expected to survive its IPO with nary a peep from the slavering legal predators that roam the intellectual property Savannah, the ignorance and hubris of sitting around with only 56 patents to shield itself seems rather apparent now. Mind you, this does not make Yahoo's cause any more righteous, but it does beg the question of whether Facebook's megalith kingdom should have spent some of its massive surplus on, say, building a few fortresses and moats around the golden goose.
Whether Facebook chose to use ten patents as an obvious mirrored parallel to Yahoo's ten patents is up for debate, but they essentially center around two themes -- networking and advertisements. As will become evident below, the Facebook patent infringement claims do have very similar counterparts in the Yahoo patent infringement claims.
Since none of the above patents list IBM as an assignee, it is worth noting that they originated from one of four sources -- Facebook's own creative minds, Right Point L.L.C., US Philips Corporation and New York University.
Facebook's own homegrown patents are the "208," "653," "896" and "913" patents. The "208" news feed patent claim seems to be a counterattack of sorts in response to Yahoo's claim that Facebook's News Feed violates Yahoo patents 7,454,509 “Online playback system with community bias," and 5,983,227, “Dynamic page generator.” Facebook says, in Count One of their court filing, that the "208" patent is violated by Yahoo's Photostream, Recent Activity and Groups Activity on the Yahoo Flickr photo sharing service.
The "653" patent claim, which deals with tagging digital media, and the "896" and "913" patent claims, which involve systems for controlled distribution of user profiles over a network, are similar to Yahoo's claim that Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups violate Yahoo patent 7,747,648, “World modeling using a relationship network with communication channels in entities." After all, Facebook claims in Count Two of their court filing that Yahoo violates the "653" patent with its People in Photos feature on the Yahoo Flickr photo sharing service and Counts Nine and Ten allege that patents "896" and "913" are violated by Yahoo's ability to establish relationships with other users and set privacy settings on the Yahoo Flickr photo sharing service.
Patent "717" is the most recent acquisition by Facebook, obtained from Right Point L.L.C. on March 30, 2012. Its headline posting algorithm, described in the patent abstract as a program that uses topic interest flags to cater headline content to user preferences, most closely parallels Yahoo's claim that Facebook’s method of targeted advertising violates Yahoo patents 6,907,566, 7,100,111 and 7,373,599 (all three of which are called "Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage"). Facebook claims in Count Three of its court filing that Yahoo violates patent "717" with the Yahoo Home Page and all other Yahoo home pages that use the Content Optimization and Relevance Engine (C.O.R.E.) to identify items for display.
Patents "133" and "949" both trace their ancestry to US Philips Corporation and involve customizing ads based on user data. Patents "978," "331", and "611," obtained possibly through licensing from New York University, also involve dynamic profiling of users for ads. These five patents are being wielded by Facebook in a fashion similar to the above three "Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage" Yahoo patents. Facebook claims in Counts Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight that Yahoo is violating patents "133," "949," "978," "331," and "611," respectively, with ads displayed on Yahoo pages including by way of example only, ads displayed on My Yahoo, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo News, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Movies, Yahoo Shopping, Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Autos and the Flickr photo sharing service.
Given the obvious symmetry of the ten Facebook and ten Yahoo patents being contested, it will be fascinating to watch whether Yahoo or Facebook will emerge the victor after locking horns in a savage display of patent trolling. Considering the similarity of patent infringement claims, it is quite likely that the two companies will try and settle out of court. However, if Facebook gets its wish, Yahoo will have to face the social media giant in a case decided by jurors. Since most, if not all, of those jury members may have a beloved Facebook profile that they will be poring over on their smartphones whenever the court is in recess and updating at home on their computers in between trial days, Yahoo will probably wish to avoid being skewered by rabid fans.