Patent trolling, as it has now come to be infamously referred is the act of registering patents in the hope that they may be used to gain unfair advantage over competitors in the future. Yahoo has been a bastion of good business over the years and many companies in the Valley have sought to emulate the company.
But the recent decision the company made to take Facebook to court over patent infringements has many in the tech industry bristling over what they call malicious intentions on Yahoo’s side. So why the big fuss about it? Isn’t the smartphone industry suing each other left right and centre over patents, ridiculous or not? Well, devices are one thing and web standards are quite another.
The Internet is today what it is because of the open standards adopted in developing it into what it is today. Many organizations collaborated in adding capabilities and functions to the Internet or the WWW as it was known when it was just created. If companies had been registering patents on the improvements they made to the Internet, there would be no Internet. Think for a moment of someone had patented email, would there be any Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc?
Also, consider if someone had patented IP addresses, the web addresses that enable us to browse the web today, where would the Internet be. This is the issue everyone has with what Yahoo is doing, it is taking what should be open web standards and militarising them to go after another web company that is merely trying to improve on the web that so many worked so hard to create.
So what exactly is Yahoo suing Facebook about? Get this, among others, the ability of users to friend each other, creating a profile, centralized registration of social profiles and so on. The picture this paints of Yahoo isn’t too pretty because large web companies have traditionally dedicated a substantial part of their intellectual property to bolstering web standards.
A good case in point is HTML5, which has been developed and pretty much anyone can utilize it for their own benefit. This is what Yahoo’s patents are, additions to the evolution of web standards and no one should claim ownership, that is, unless the guy who invented the Internet also comes along to claim his invention. That said, this patent trolling must come to an end because things are escalating into the plain absurd and atrocious.