I’ve been thinking about the situation with Yahoo suing Facebook regarding some older patents, and observing the reactions online in blogs and on Twitter. I’ve been struck by how unanimous it’s been, and the emerging narrative that Yahoo has somehow crossed a line, that Internet companies don’t…
A smart take on the Yahoo/Facebook patent situation by John Lilly. I think he’s right, there’s more fueling the outpouring of hatred directed at Yahoo than just their patent maneuvers. BUT, I also think their maneuvers are particularly bullshit in this case. Look at what it is they’re suing Facebook over. It’s things that nearly all social services use. It’s obvious things. Things that existed before Yahoo patented them.
Lilly is right that many other patent lawsuits are bullshit as well — particularly in software. But Yahoo is being unreasonably evil and stupid here. Why didn’t they sue, say, 5 years ago? Why aren’t they suing 200 other companies “infringing” their silly patents?
It’s because, like Kodak, they’re dying. And these are the actions that a dying company resorts to. With Kodak, it’s obvious — they’re bankrupt. And people feel sort of sorry for them as a result. Yahoo is not bankrupt, so it’s not-so-obvious. But they are still very much dying. And they clearly know it, hence, the lawsuit.
Maybe we should feel bad for Yahoo here too. But we don’t yet. But we will someday in the not-too-distant future. The saddest thing now is that they probably really think this lawsuit will help save them. It won’t.