Dutch company hits Facebook with lawsuit over 'Like' button

Facebook has been dragged into a new legal confrontation, this time over the use of the ‘Like’ button, as well as a few other popular features.

The social networking site was sued by Rembrandt Social Media - a patent-holding company working on behalf of the estate of Joannes Jozef Everardus van der Meer, a programmer from the Netherlands who died in 2004. The complainant claims that Facebook’s overwhelming success is a direct product of many key features and technologies patented by Van der Meer and now owned by Rembrandt.

Van der Meer was awarded the patents nearly 15 years ago in 1998, a good five years before Facebook was launched. Though Facebook has yet to offer an official statement in response to the issue, some of its own documents suggest it was aware of the patents.

The lawsuit, which also covers another social media site named Add This, was filed in a federal court in Virginia.

"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 of Fish and Richardson, the legal firm representing Rembrandt Social Media.