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Facebook Could Be Back in Court for Patent Suit Over Site Design

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The next high-profile firm to find itself in court looks to be Facebook. In the week that a pair of strapping rowers named Winkelvoss intimated that their battle with Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t yet over, the social networking firm is at the center of a patent challenge by Cross Atlantic Capital Partners. In the court papers, XACP claims that it lodged a patent for an Internet-based “community for users with common interests to interact in,” dating back to 2000.

The case between the two parties was filed back in 2007, until Facebook asked for a stay of litigation in order to take an “inter partes” re-examination at the patent just before the trial was due to start, the following year. The go-ahead for the trial was given last month, after the Patent and Trademark Office validated XCAP’s claim, which says that Facebook didn’t start developing its site until December 2003.

It’s highly unlikely that the suit will shut down the rumbling juggernaut that is Facebook, but should XCAP succeed, then the firm will have to pay out millions of dollars. The court case will undoubtedly slam the brakes on Facebook’s IPO which, since it recently started turning a profit, cannot be that far off.

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