Did Facebook copy the “like” button?

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You can be sure that Facebook will certainly not “like” this: The widow of a Dutch programmer has filed a case for damages against Facebook. The social network giant is being sued for some of its features, particularly the “like” button.

In a report, BBC revealed that a patent-holding company filed the case on behalf of Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer, a Dutch programmer who patented said feature in 1998, five years prior to the launch of Facebook.

Prior to Van Der Meer’s death, ownership of the patent was transferred to Rembrandt Social Media. The patent was also used by Van Der Meer to build Surfbook, a social diary that allows its users to share information with family and friends, who can in turn approve of them with a “like” button.

Joined by another social media firm called Add This, Rembrandt Social Media noted that Facebook’s success was partly attributed to the use of the patents without prior permission.

Filed by Fish and Richardson, the legal papers for the case claimed that the social network giant is aware of the patents given that it has mentioned them in its patent applications for other social networking technologies.

Legal counsel Tom Melsheimer believes that Rembrandt’s patents constitute a vital foundation of social media. Based on the evidence set to be presented, he expects the jury and the judge to arrive at a similar conclusion.

Facebook has refused to comment on the case, which was filed in a Virginia federal court.