Ailing search company Yahoo! is set to go head-to-head against the world's most popular social network after filing a lawsuit against Facebook.
Yahoo! claims that Facebook has infringed on ten different patents relating to Internet advertising, privacy and data.
It filed a complaint at a Californian federal court on Monday (March 12), which demanded that Facebook cease infringing on Yahoo!'s patents, and pay the firm massive damages.
Yahoo! started out as a huge player in search engine marketing, but has slowly seen its position deteriorate as Facebook - and more notably Google - rose to prominence. Despite its relatively minor search stake, Yahoo! still has the most visited homepage in the States, with regular news and entertainment updates drawing millions of users a day.
According to a report on BloombergNews.com, Yahoo! may be looking to use the litigation to help boost flagging profits and rejuvenate its growth.
The lawsuit is the latest in an escalating number of "patent wars" between the main protagonists of Internet search, social media sites, and those creating hardware, such as tablets and smartphones. Apple, Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, Samsung and HTC are all currently caught in a cross-fire of litigation relating to patents for interface features, website displays and storing user data.
"For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo! got there first," the lawsuit states. "Facebook's entire social media model... is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology."
Despite retaining popularity as a portal, Yahoo! lost its top spot for display advertising to Facebook last year.
Some commentators questioned whether the timing of the lawsuit might impact on Facebook's stock market flotation: though many believe it won't affect the bidding.
Facebook questioned Yahoo!'s "puzzling actions", adding it only found out about the suit when the media did.
The network said it would fight Yahoo!'s claims, adding it was "disappointed" with the way Yahoo! had acted.
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