Facebook beats back patent infringement claim

WILMINGTON, Del., July 28 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc won a legal fight on Wednesday over claims its hugely popular social networking website infringed a patent owned by little-known Leader Technologies.

The eight-member jury ruled that Leader’s patent was invalid, according to Facebook’s attorney, Michael Rhodes of Cooley, which represents Facebook.

“It’s called checkmate,” said Rhodes. “We are very pleased.”

Leader Technologies of Columbus, Ohio, brought the case in 2008, saying that Facebook infringed a 2006 patent that protects an online collaborative tool that was developed by the company’s founder, Michael McKibben.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004, filed a counterclaim arguing that the patent was not infringed and that the Leader Technologies’ patent was invalid.

Rhodes had said at the start of the six-day trial that his legal team would show that an invention that had been patented years earlier was “spot on” to Leader Technologies software, which would invalidate the company’s patent.

The case is Leader Technologies Inc v Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-00862. (Reporting by Tom Hals, editing by Matthew Lewis)