Facebook has responded to Yahoo's patent lawsuit with one of its own. The social network is claiming that the ancient web giant is infringing on 10 of its patents, "its patents" being a relative term since most of them did not originate from within Facebook but were acquired along the way.
For years, but even more so recently, tech companies have been amassing patents to ward off potential lawsuits. Those patents had defensive purposes for the most part, but increasingly, companies are starting to use them offensively.
"From the outset, we said we would defend ourselves vigorously against Yahoo’s lawsuit, and today we filed our answer as well as counter-claims against Yahoo for infringing ten of Facebook’s patents," Ted Ullyot, general counsel of Facebook, said.
"While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation," he added.
For what it's worth, the 10 patents are just about as ridiculous as the 10 Yahoo is using against the social network, but that's the case with most software patents. Facebook likely had no intention of using any of the patents in a lawsuit any time soon, but was stockpiling them for just this kind of situation.
Yahoo, obviously, is saying that Facebook's 10 patents are "without merit," unlike its own.
"We have only just received Facebook’s answer and counterclaims, but on their face we believe they are without merit and nothing more than a cynical attempt to distract from the weakness of its defense," Yahoo responded.
As expected, Facebook is not backing down and will throw at Yahoo whatever it's got. And it's got a lot, there's no shortage of cash at the social network and there's bound to be even more after the looming IPO.
Of the two, Facebook is definitely the Goliath, it's worth five times more than Yahoo and it's still growing. Yet everyone's cheering for Facebook, a rare occasion for the company which has never seen the kind of good will Google has, for example.
This whole thing will drag on for years and will cost both companies large amounts of money. But, in the meantime, Facebook will continue to grow while Yahoo will wither away.
Facebook can afford to throw away (pay lawyers) tens of millions of dollars without batting an eye, Yahoo can't. And, since it's obvious that Facebook won't settle, Yahoo will be worse off once it's all over. The only winners will be the lawyers, which get paid either way.