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Facebook confronts 'like button' lawsuit from Dutch company


A thumbs up or 'Like' icon at the Facebook main campus in Menlo Park, California, May 15, 2012. The company is facing a lawsuit over its 'like button' and timeline features.


Robyn Beck

Facebook is being sued over its 'like button' and timeline features, as a Dutch company representing deceased programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer claims he invented and patented the concepts first. 

The company, Rembrandt Social Media, claims that the social network's success is due in part to their use of Van Der Meer's patents without obtaining his permission, BBC News reported

The suit was filed last week by law firm Fish & Richardson, and argues that the late computer programmer, who died in 2004, patented his ideas in 1998 — six years before Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room, Digital Spy reported

According to the lawsuit, Van Der Meer had patented a "Web page diary" which allowed users to "collect personal information and third-party content, organize the information chronologically on a personalized Web page, and share the information with a selected group of people, such as the end user's friends, through the use of user-settable privacy levels," which sounds awfully close to Facebook's timeline concept, NBC News reported.

"We believe Rembrandt's patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence," said lawyer Tom Melsheimer, representing Rembrandt Social Media, according to the Telegraph

Facebook has so far not commented on the suit. 

More from GlobalPost: Facebook "like" not protected by first amendment, judge rules