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Facebook Faces Lawsuit Over Like Button

Facebook Faces Lawsuit Over Like Button

Today in international tech news: Facebook is sued by a company that says it owns the patents for Likes; broadband fans in the UK fret about what EU budget cuts will mean for rural Internet access; VLC might someday be able to stream BitTorrents; and a British tech company is under investigation for its financial reporting before it was acquired by HP.

By David Vranicar
02/12/13 2:08 PM PT

Rembrandt Social Media is suing Facebook for its use of the Like button, according to the BBC.

Rembrandt claims that Facebook's success is owed, at least in part, to patents belonging to Dutch programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer, who died in 2004.

Facebook declined to comment, but a lawyer for Rembrandt, which owns the patents, said that the patents "represent an important foundation of social media."

Van Der Meer, who was awarded the patents in 1998, launched his own (unsuccessful) social network: Surfbook, a "social diary" that, according to Rembrandt's attorneys, allowed people to share information and approve data with a Like button.

UK Internet Folk: Cuts Doom Rural High-Speed Web

So-called "broadband campaigners" say that EU budget cuts, hashed out last week at an Union-wide budget summit, will doom high-speed connections to rural homes and businesses, according to The Guardian.

The budget for "rural broadband" was chopped by more than US$10 billion; it's now at $1.35 billion.

Certain spending cuts implemented by members of the European Parliament could be reversed when the budget is voted on in March or April, The Guardian noted.

The director of the Community Broadband Network said that "UK policy is being dictated by the big players."

The UK is notoriously sour toward European legislators in Brussels, but in this instance, there might be some agreement: Neelie Kroes, the European Commission vice president, also criticized cuts in broadband spending.

Potential VLC BitTorrent Streams?

Supporters of VLC, an ultra-popular media player known for its ability to read a variety of types of files, have set aside $10,000 to coax a developer into delivering code that would equip VLC with the ability to download and stream BitTorrent files, according to Torrent Freak.

So far, no media players are equipped to stream BitTorrent files, but Paris-based VideoLAN -- the parent of VLC -- is reportedly open to trying.

The technology boils down to designing code for a "working patch" for VLC. Several developers have delivered such codes, but they have thus far not been up to snuff.

British Tech Company Under Scrutiny

Regulators in Britain said that they will investigate the financial reporting of Autonomy, a British software company, according to The New York Times.

The investigation will look specifically at Autonomy's books before it was acquired for $11.1 billion by HP in 2011. HP has alleged that Autonomy inflated its sales and "carried out improper accounting practices" that misled the tech giant.

HP in November took a charge of $8.8 billion after it wrote down the Autonomy acquisition, according to The Times. Roughly $5 billion of that is related to what HP called "accounting and disclosure abuses" by the British company.

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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