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IP, IP Asset, Patent, Walker Digital

Walker Digital ‘Pokes’ Facebook (Again) – Two More Patent Lawsuits

Facebook might as well add an “Assert Patent” button to go alongside its “Like” and “Poke” features.  This week, Walker Digital filed two new lawsuits against the social networking giant, raising the total to five since November. Walker Digital has effectively now asked Facebook to license ten different patents, related to various kinds of technology including communications management and e-commerce.

The first of the two new cases (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-00434-UNA) also includes Yellowbook.com and Goldstar and asserts four patents:

  • 7,039,603: “Settlement systems and methods wherein a buyer takes possession at a retailer of a product.”
  • 6,249,772: “Systems and methods wherein a buyer purchases a product at a first price and acquires.”
  • 6,754,636: “Purchasing systems and methods wherein a buyer takes possession at a retailer of a product.”
  • 7,689,468: “Purchasing, redemption and settlement systems and methods wherein a buyer takes possession at a retailer.”

These patents related to a group-buying business plan have already been asserted against established daily deal players like GroupOn and BuyWith Me.  Famously, Google was also named in the lawsuit immediately after announcing its own daily deal product.  Facebook’s accused product is most likely the recently announced Deals on Facebook. This new service brings an interesting monetization opportunity to Facebook, which may be what piqued Walker’s interest.

The second lawsuit this week (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-00435-UNA) was filed only against Facebook and implicates a patent only issued in the past month:

  • 7,933,893: “Method and system for providing a link in an electronic file being presented to a user.”

The patent relates to customization of ads presented to Facebook users, and again directly implicates a Facebook revenue model.

Overall, the Connecticut research firm is actively seeking to license its patent portfolio to more than one hundred operating companies claimed to be already benefiting from use of technology Walker Digital owns.  Patent law expert Adam Mossoff said, in relation to a spike in lawsuits over smartphone patents last year, “Oftentimes the way a party signals to another party in one’s industry, ‘I’m serious about this–you need to speak with me,’ is by filing a lawsuit.”  Walker has “signaled” its seriousness in five lawsuits asserting ten patents over a six-month window.  If Zuckerberg doesn’t respond this time, Jay Walker may need to send him a friend request …

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