University of California sues Facebook for patent infringement

Two of the patents used in the lawsuit are invalid, a Texas jury ruled

The University of California is suing Facebook, alleging infringment on four patents that enable Internet browsers to host embedded interactive applications.

Facebook, along with Wal-Mart and the Walt Disney Company, were sued in cooperation with Eolas Technologies Incorporated, a company that was founded to assist the University of California in commercializing fundamental Web technologies, the company states on its site. The suit was filed Wednesday in the District Court for the Eastern District Court of Texas.

All four patents describe a "distributed hypermedia method" for "automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document.

The '906 patent for instance describes a "system allowing a user of a browser program on a computer connected to an open distributed hypermedia system to access and execute an embedded program object."

Another patent asserted against Facebook and the other companies is the '985 patent which is a continuation of the '906 patent. It allows websites to add fully-interactive embedded applications to their services.

Both the '906 and '985 patents were used by Eolas in a legal battle against other top Internet companies like Amazon.com and Google. In February, a Texas jury found that both Eolas patents were invalid.

The other patents in the lawsuit are the '293 and '662 patents that are both related to the first two, but were issued at a later date.

Facebook directly and indirectly infringes on all four patents by presenting web pages and content interactively in the browser, Eolas said in the complaint. Eolas is seeking damages in a jury trial.

A Facebook representative was unable to comment on the lawsuit.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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