Times Are Tough, Why Not Sue Facebook?

Once upon a time, Google was the company to sue. Now it seems to have passed the mantle to Facebook, which is facing an entertaining array of bizarre and quixotic lawsuits--many of them filed in the last few days, and with little legal merit. (Below, Facebook's new HQ in Palo Alto.)

Facebook HQ

The headliner: Phoenix Media, maker of personal and dating-service ads used by 200 newspapers nationally, is suing Facebook for patent infringement. What's the alleged infraction? The lawsuit says that Facebook copies Phoenix's patented "method of creating and sharing a profile page." The company hasn't said how much in damages it will seek, but if it doesn't win against Facebook, it can always sue every single other Web 2.0 Web site on earth.

Next on the docket is WhoGlue, in a suit that also claims patent infringement. This time the target is Facebook's "information management system," which it uses to control personal information. WhoGlue provides back-end services for trade groups and other associations and uses its privacy filter to create "networking opportunities" between members of those groups. The social network's privacy controls are at the center of the dispute.

And yet, neither of these patents would seem to stand much of a chance in the wake of In re Bilski, a Federal Circuit Court decision from last year that deemed "business method" patents indefensible. That includes patents for trading algorithms, software, cloud-computing architecture, and more--all potentially made impotent. (Though the Supreme Court may eventually hear an appeal, having granted the case certiorari.)

"Business method" patents aren't the only suits in play. In Chicago, a woman is suing Facebook for defamation on behalf of her son after his peers created a false account in his name, and allegedly proceeded to post racist comments about President Barack Obama. Game censorship advocate Jack Thompson is pursuing a similar suit, citing an "I hate Jack Thompson" group on Facebook, and two Facebook advertisers are suing the company, claiming "click-through fraud."

If you're a corporate lawyer without work, it may be time to send your resume to Palo Alto.

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9 Comments

  • leigh michelle silvers

    I  had blocked  a family member from my facebook page to realize there isn't any protection from privacy or torment which i had gotten over the lack of security they have to offer where is it, does it exsist ?  No it does not IM PROOF OF THAT 4 MONTHS AGO I HAD PUT MY PAGE UP AND NEW TO THE COMPUTER WORLD   OF SOCIAL NETWORKING WHICH I HAVE TO ADMIT MY boyfriend ,WAS RIGHT  ABOUT STAYING AWAY FROM IT ITS NO GOOD  WELL anyways i was on a search of looking for a long lost niece which i was concernd  about in iran and found her well another niece i had blocked in the beginning after disrespecting her grandmother and i had gotten into my account " HACKING " and CYBERBULLING ME posting pics i had never seen before to those in a mass  emailings and causing discredit to those i was connected with numerous threats and stalking causing anxiety attacks this all transpired from lack of security that YOU FACEBOOK DOES NOT PROVIDE THANK YOU now i have another court date as of december 5th 2011 last was sept. 26th and opted for trial to prove of this crime i want justice to be served i want action for this mishap i want retobution for my suffering and i want a laywer with balls to represent me on this 

  • Alan Lenser

    yes i would actually like to sue you do to Facebook adds lagging and crash computers i have had in the past, due to the massive amount of "Lag" i have clicked on your adds and have gotten viruses and such from site they take me to, i am no longer in possession of form computers that i have owned , but have spent a couple hundred on each getting it wiped clean of viruses, but now i don't even care to get one because of Facebook, and its problems that it causes, my brothers current PC has virus protection and i still have problems when i get on Facebook because of video adds and how they move things on the screen causing me to click on unwanted things. so please respond and thank you

  • David Rose

    Facebook removed something from my page. They won't tell me what it was or when it happened. I need their address to send a demand letter before I sue in small claims court. Can any one help?
    David Rose
    drose70@gmail.com

  • john stephen blyth

    Facebook is gaming the system. They remove all posts that don't follow their politics. I have been told that they are a CIA front company designed to watch people.

    If you want to talk more about how to deal with them, write me at yearofthefalcon@hotmail.com

  • kathy moore

    actually individuals can sue Facebook, too. I got locked out of my own account and am not even allowed to delete it. Just sent them a letter via snail mail since there are no humans to help you with problems. Next stop? Lawsuit City. I feel a class action in the making. Anyone else having this problem?

  • john stephen blyth

    I want to sue Facebook because all of my political posts are taken down. This is discrimination. If you want to talk more about it, write me at yearofthefalcon@hotmail.com.

  • Louann Oravec

    Justice to come out of these frivolous lawsuits would be that Facebook had developed the software first and these companies would have to pay Facebook. Or if Facebook because of these suits starts charging member for use of Facebook; the members would class action sue the companies that initiated the suits.

  • John Owen

    Lawyers & set the/any "bar" higher used in the same sentence? Isn't that....a contradiction of terms/conflict of ideas? ;-)

  • Aly-Khan Satchu

    If a little tangential but with this new c21st Stream of Conciousness, the Law finds itself a little left behind. Is a Tweet said on the spur of the moment, a shriek if you will, now something that can be taken to court? Where is the line? The Tolerance Bar has surely got to be reset a few notches higher.
    Aly-Khan Satchu
    www.rich.co.ke
    Twitter alykhansatchu