Yahoo targets IPO-ready Facebook in patent spat

Yahoo has decided to slap Facebook with an intellectual property lawsuit claiming that the social networking site infringed 10 of its patents.

It accused Facebook of having a “free ride” off the back of Yahoo’s patents, covering areas such as online advertising, privacy controls and messaging.

Yahoo is going as far as claiming that it has patents covering many of Facebook’s features, including news feed generation, social commenting and ad displays.  

The patent filing, which has been made public after the companies were unable to come to agreement in backroom meetings, will bring a refreshing change to the smartphone vs smartphone battle, but also has the potential to turn nasty as the two go head-to-head. 

Yahoo is demanding unspecified damages from Facebook, as well as a trial and an injunction against further patent infringement by the social networking site. 

In a statement to the WSJ, Yahoo boldly claimed: “We are confident that we will prevail.”

Facebook said that it was “disappointed” that its “longtime business partner” and a company that had “benefitted from its association with Facebook” had decided to take such action. It described the lawsuit as “puzzling” and insisted it would fight against the claims.

Yahoo’s claims come as Facebook moves toward an initial public offering of stock that could value the company at $100 billion.

Back in 2004 the company took similar action against Google just ahead of its floatation. As a result it was given 2.7 million shares as a settlement.