Facebook’s like button has been a hit with users from the start. A small clickable icon with a thumb’s up symbol is clicked daily by millions of people. Not to mention the billions of dollars it has generated for the social site.

Infringement charges against Facebook

On February 5th in Virginia, the Rembrandt Social Media, LLC , filed a lawsuit against Facebook for its use of  the Like Button.  Rembrandt had acquired a patent relating to Surfbook, from the deceased dutch programmer and creator of the social diary, Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer. Van Der Meer filed for the patent in 1998 and it was granted in 2002, just two years before his death which took him before the completion of his work.

facebook like

According to Rembrandt, van Der Meer was a pioneer that paved the way for Social Media as we know it. His creation, Surfbook was the first online social diary with the ability to share content and other linked information with a select group. Within the content of the patent, van Der Meer also included a Like Button that would enable users to approve of other Surfbook users’ data and content.

Other sites use like buttons

So far, Facebook has declined to comment on the lawsuit.There are a number of social sites that have incorporated a like button into their features. However, legal action is being taken against only one other social media company, Add This, for making use of the patents without permission.

Rembrandt feels that the Like Button is to thank for at least some of the success of the accused sites. Attorney Tom Melsheimer, counsel for Rembrandt stated “We believe Rembrandt’s patent represents an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on evidence.”

[Image via yoursourceisopen]