1998 Web Diary Patents Asserted against Facebook and AddThis

Rembrandt Social Media has sued Facebook and bookmarking service, AddThis, accusing them of infringing patents related to the early creation of a web-based personal diary page.

The first patent, filed in 1998 and issued in 2002, claimed a novel technology that gave "ordinary people" (i.e., those without computer training) the ability to create an online personal diary.

The second patent claimed a set of technologies that allowed users to collect web content and automatically transfer it to their personal diary pages.

The patents' inventor, the late Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer, registered a domain name - www.surfbook.com - and launched a pilot system utilizing his patents. However, in June 2004, Van Der Meer passed away.

Rembrandt, the patents' assignee, alleges that Facebook bears a "remarkable resemblance," both in terms of function and implementation, to Van Der Meer's personal web page diary.

"Like the Van Der Meer inventions," Rembrandt says, "the Facebook website gives ordinary people - those without special training - the ability to create a personal webpage diary .... and provides the user with the ability to share specific diary entries with a selected group of people ...."

In addition, Rembrandt asserts that Facebook's advertising feature was envisioned by Van Der Meer and described in his patents.

Rembrandt is seeking damages for past infringement, along with treble damages for willful infringement. A permanent injunction has also been requested to prevent any future infringement.  

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