The most interesting part of the patent infringement lawsuit Yahoo! has directed at Facebook is what they want: Everything.
It has become fairly clear to everyone on the Web these days that truly new and innovative tools are few and far between. Just about everything you can do on the web--with pages and ads and interactions and security--has already been done. If you do something "new" you're really just doing something "old" and putting a fresh coat of paint on it.
This has created an unwritten rule among tech companies that they not sue each other for patent infringement. By filing suit against Facebook Yahoo! is violating this "rule" seeking nothing short of all-out Armageddon.
Yahoo! alleges that Facebook has violated patents for personalized advertising, custom portal pages, custom news feeds, recommendations to connect with other suggested users, spammer screening, social music applications, messaging applications, and authorizing some users (but not others) to see different sections of your personal content.
If Yahoo! is successful in their suit against Facebook, the world's largest social media site will be reduced to nothing more than a collection of names and contact information. Everything that makes Facebook, well, Facebook, is made possible through the use of one of the services Yahoo! is trying to force them to stop using.
Yahoo! has been in the process of rebuilding and re-branding itself. No longer a leader in search it is looking to re-invent itself as something more. Perhaps a new media purveyor, perhaps something else, but whatever it is, it's not a social network as we know it so it seems unlikely they are hoping to fill niche that would be left empty if Facebook shut down.
Facebook, on the other hand, is looking to further solidify its standing as the world's most popular social media network. Already it boasts more than 900 million active users around the globe. This alone makes it unlikely that they will be forced to shut down, especially when you consider Yahoo! has had years in which to file a lawsuit, or even complain about patent infringement. To find against Facebook in this instance would be tantamount to unraveling the Internet as we now know it, forcing companies to start again in building the World Wide Web.
However, it is possible Yahoo! could win some monetary compensation from Facebook, perhaps even a hefty compensation, leading to the likelihood that even more patent infringement suits would be filed, resulting in online Armageddon (as I mentioned earlier.)
Seems to me it would make more sense to follow the precedent which has already been set and let sleeping dogs lie. Of course, this is just conventional wisdom which is far, far different from the letter of the law.
I will be interested to see how this plays out in the courts and what repercussions we all all suffer as a result.