Yahoo, Facebook Drop Patent Litigation, Launch New Strategic Alliance

In a mild surprise, the two companies also have decided to let legal bygones be bygones and settle all pending patent claims they have been contesting for the last few months.

Facebook subscribers might be seeing more purple "Y's" on their home pages soon, and Yahoo users may be looking at more blue thumbs-up as well.

Yahoo and Facebook, located a few miles from each other in Silicon Valley and longtime media partners, announced July 6 that they signed a new advertising agreement that will expand current content distribution arrangements between them.


More importantly, the two companies also have decided to let legal bygones be bygones and settle all pending patent claims they have been contesting for the last few months.

Yahoo's Change of Attitude

Under previous CEO Scott Thompson, Yahoo on March 12 sued Facebook for allegedly infringing on patents related to social networking and other technologies. Yahoo had wanted Facebook to pay to use technology spanning 10 to 20 patents covering online advertising, Website personalization and social networking.

The case never advanced into court, however. New Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who replaced Thompson on May 13 after Thompson was found to have embellished his resume and covered it up, apparently has brought a new, more cooperative attitude to the struggling Internet search and services company.

Under the new corporate agreements, which also include a patent portfolio cross-license, the two companies will work together to "improve media experiences that will be promoted and distributed across both Yahoo and Facebook," the companies said in a joint media statement.


Yahoo and Facebook also will work together to bring Yahoo€™s wide media event coverage to Facebook users by collaborating on social integrations on the Yahoo site.

Companies Want to Expand Upon 'Social Bar'

Since the 2007 launch of the original multiyear partnership between Yahoo and Facebook that enables users to discover and connect news and information on Yahoo sites and share them with their Facebook friends, Yahoo has integrated the feature called €œSocial Bar€ on more than 100 of its properties globally. Since then, more than 90 million users have implemented it.

As a result, Yahoo has the largest active user base among all news sites that have integrated with Facebook's Open Graph platform, making Social Bar the world€™s leading social news application.

The two Web service companies would like to expand upon that success.

€œI€™m pleased that we were able to resolve this in a positive manner and look forward to partnering closely with Ross and the leadership at Yahoo,€ said Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook. €œYahoo€™s new leaders are driven by a renewed focus on innovation and providing great products to users.€

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...