A patent holding company is acting on behalf of a dead Dutch programmer, Joannes Jezef Everardus van Der Meer.
These patents, formerly held by Joannes Jezef Everardus van Der Meer, are now owned by Rembrandt Social Media. Mr Van Der Meer filed for the patents while he was building a social network known as Surfbook but his work was left incomplete after his death in 2004.
According to media reports Rembrandt Social Media claim that Facebook have been using patents held by Mr Van Der Meer without his permission and that these patents have been instrumental to the success of the social media network.
A law suit has now been filed against Facebook in a federal court in Virginia by Rembrandt Social Media – Facebook have so far made no comment about the case.
Tom Melsheimer, a lawyer from Fish and Richardson, the law firm representing the patent holders in the case, told the BBC: “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.”
According to reports Mr Van Der Meer was first granted the patents in question in 1998, five years before Facebook first began and this will form a cornerstone of the case against Facebook.
Legal papers from Fish and Richardson show that Surfbook was a social diary that let people share information with each other with friends and family being able to “like” certain items by clicking on a “like” button.
The legal papers also claim that Facebook was aware of the patents and has previously cited these patents when applying for their own patents for the social networking site.
The sheer amount of evidence being put against Facebook in this case has grabbed the attention of the public with the possible outcome of the case potentially leading to a huge payout for Rembrandt Social Media.
There have been no details released as to when and if a court case will happen, it is likely that if Facebook has known about the patents that the entire case could be sorted out of court to prevent any further adverse publicity.