Patent Law: What Patents Does Facebook Have
How many patents does Facebook own? How much of Facebook is actually patented? Has Facebook ever been sued for patent infringement?
When the word patent comes to mind, the first thing that comes to mind are the numerous startups looking to establish themselves in the market and are looking to protect their fresh ideas from infringement. At the mention of the word patent, very few people, if any, will straight away think about the tech giants like Facebook and this is somewhat ironical. Ironical because tech giants like facebook, own thousands of patents without which lawsuits would stifle the life out of them.
So, how many patents does Facebook own? Are there any facets of facebook which are not patented yet? We talked to long time patents attorney and also the CEO of Patent Panda to get a better understanding of the matter. Tony is a seasoned patent attorney and has a vast understanding of the patenting of some of the largest tech giants like Facebook. Here is what Tony had to say on the Facebook patents;
A quick search on the Free Patents Online IP Research & Communities at the end of 2017, showed that Facebook owned more than 6,000 patents. The number of the patents is expected to go even higher because there are thousands of new patents which Facebook is battling behind the scene to exclusively own and they will soon be made public.
Although the number of patents that Facebook owns looks large, very few of the 6,000+ patents were originally owned by Facebook. Rolling back the years, Facebook owned only 812 patents 20 of which were exclusively owned by Facebook while the rest were bought or obtained from other tech giants and small startups.
Equally today, only 20% of the patents owned by Facebook were originally registered under the company’s name. A good number of the company’s patents were purchased from the technology giants like IBM and other small tech startups.
Has Facebook ever been involved in patent infringement wrangles?
Thanks to the diversity of the services and operation of Facebook as a company, it has faced millions of lawsuits from other tech companies for patent infringements. Although a lot of the lawsuits go on behind the scenes, some of the lawsuits have managed to get to the public.
In 2012 for example, Facebook was sued by Yahoo and Mitel and the lawsuit almost brought the company down. At the time, Yahoo was suing Facebook for over 10 patents while MItel was suing the social media giant for more than 15 patents. Thanks to the large revenues that Facebook had amassed- it had entered the IPO and had raked in billions from the sale of shares- it was able to hold talks with Yahoo and Mitel and a strategic settlement benefitting both parties was reached.
Can you sue Facebook for patent infringement today?
Now that the Tech giant has established itself and is among the richest companies on the Universe, it is almost impossible for anyone to sue them for patent infringement. Facebook has invested billions in building its legal defense team and they can basically out-lawyer any company that files a lawsuit for patent infringement.
Besides that, Facebook has patented almost every faucet of their operation and if they need an new technology or product, they will either buy the patent or absorb the entire company altogether which makes them almost immune to legal lawsuits for patent lawsuits.
To cap it all off, Facebook exclusively owns the patent to ReactJS which is a very common library for building user interfaces and is used by almost every single app developer in the world. If any startup that uses the ReactJS library in any of their endeavors tries to sue Facebook for patent infringement, Facebook will quickly sue you by counterclaims and you losing the case is almost inevitable.
So, are other tech companies inferior to Facebook in terms of patent protection? Do Facebook go infringing patents because they can’t be sued for it? The answer is of course not. Facebook is very considerate of all the small startups and if an idea interests them in any way whatsoever, they will absorb the original idea’s owner or buy the company.
Facebook also has its own code of conducts and ethics and that includes respecting the work of other innovators and startups. You should therefore not be made to feel inferior. Facebook won’t infringe your patents and if they have to, they will leave you stinking rich.
If you are a startup looking for more information on patents and want the best legal counsel on the same, look no further than our way. Here at Patent panda, we have a team of passionate legal experts and they will help you understand the patenting process and why it is important for your business. Give us a call today and we will gladly be of help.