Critics attack 'pathetic' Yahoo lawsuit
Is Yahoo attempting a shakedown in hopes of grabbing some of Facebook's IPO cash?
Within hours after the lawsuit was filed, tech observers rushed to judgment. The suit stinks. Yahoo is totally out of line.
The harshest criticism came from one of Yahoo's former board members. "Pathetic and heartbreaking last stand for Yahoo," wrote Eric Hippeau on Twitter. "It's all over. I loved you very much." Hippeau was on Yahoo's board for nearly 15 years.
Investors seemed to shrug at the lawsuit. Yahoo shares were essentially flat Tuesday at around $14.50.
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson said some words that, well, I can't reprint here. None of Yahoo's patents were unique and new ideas when they were filed, Wilson says, and Facebook could probably have them all thrown out. Yahoo cannot bully Internet newcomers with bogus patents, he said.
"I used to care about that company for some reason," he said. "No more. They are dead to me. Dead and gone. I hate them now."
Yikes. Part of the reason everyone is so worked up is because Yahoo has done this before. Yahoo sued another hot young Internet upstart -- Google (GOOG) -- in 2002 for violating its patents, reports the AllThingsD site. Yahoo sued Google over search patents, and the companies settled 10 days before Google's IPO.
Google gave Yahoo 2.7 million shares of its stock to settle, which Yahoo flipped for some nice cash.
Yahoo is reportedly on the verge of a major reorganization that could involve thousands of layoffs. The following video has more details.
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So here we are again with another hot tech IPO on the horizon. Is Yahoo attempting a shakedown here? Kara Swisher calls it "either the boldest gamble of its history or the most boneheaded," and reports that new CEO Scott Thompson is driving this aggressive strategy.
VentureBeat explains the 10 patents Yahoo is using to sue Facebook. One involves allowing an instant messaging user to have a messaging conversation with an e-mail user. Another allows a website to have custom-placed ads based on user behavior. Another one is for a dynamic page generator.
Yahoo says in a statement that its technologies are the foundation of its business and "represent the spirit of innovation" upon which the company was built. Facebook says it has been a longtime partner of Yahoo, and calls the lawsuit disappointing and puzzling.
Facebook and its legal team are clearly distracted with the IPO and have a lot of other things going on. The easy out here is for Facebook to settle and hand over a bunch of pre-IPO shares. But will Facebook decide to fight this instead?
In the court of public opinion, at least, Yahoo has already lost this one.
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