You may just think of Yahoo as a crumbling facade vomiting money and talent and resources that's ruined or is ruining all of its most prestigious assets. (See: Flickr, Delicious, etc.) But worse, it's now trying to murder-suicide the Web.
Yahoo slapped Facebook with a bullshit patent troll lawsuit yesterday, likely designed to extort money or options out of The Blue before it goes public. And worse, it could use that same patent portfolio to try to go after, well, just about any and every company on the Web.
Yahoo is claiming that Facebook violates ten of its patents. And as Mark Cuban points out, it may have a case that indeed, Facebook's ability to create a personalised news feed is derivative of Yahoo's My.Yahoo.Com. He only makes this case, however, to point out how ludicrous software patents are. Yahoo is essentially saying that Facebook — from advertising, to the personalised pages, to privacy — is built on the back of ten software patents.
It's a preposterous notion. Facebook is built on its own unique codebase, just like any other site that caters to you as an individual has been. Which is, at this point, pretty much all of them. The idea that Zuck and Co. have stolen something from Yahoo would mean that Yahoo owns personalisation outright, the end. It doesn't, any more than Scotts owns Kentucky Bluegrass. And that legalistic overreach is repeated ten times over.
Baio was a Yahoo employee, who went to work at the company after it purchased his startup calendaring company, Upcoming. And while there, against his better judgement he helped the company build its patent portfolio. As he notes:
But Yahoo assured us that their patent portfolio was a precautionary measure, to defend against patent trolls and others who might try to attack Yahoo with their own holdings. It was a cold war, stockpiling patents instead of nuclear arms, and every company in the valley had a bunker full of them.
But that's not how it turned out, obviously. And although Baio's patents aren't being used in the suit, he's penned a thoughtful, incriminatory indictment of Yahoo's actions and software patents in general that's well worth a read. [Wired]