Facebook, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney Face Fresh Patent Suits From University Of California

on September 13 2012 5:02 AM

Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) face fresh patent suits from a University of California patent licensee, which sued some of the biggest U.S. companies previously, Reuters reported.

Patent suits, which have been witnessing widespread coverage thanks to warring smartphone manufacturers Apple and Samsung, show that the legal ramifications of patent infringements have an impact beyond the bottom line, including on brands and corporate images.

Eolas Technologies and the Regents of the University of California filed lawsuits Wednesday over four patents they believe the companies are infringing, Reuters stated.

Reportedly, the lawsuits involve patents for interactive technology, including hypermedia display and interaction. They were issued to the University and licensed to Eolas, a Texas company headed by Michael Doyle.

In its petition, the University of California noted that it considered patents as public assets that "should be paid a fair value when a third party exploits that university asset for profit," Reuters added.

Reacting to the patent suit, a Facebook representative said the company would fight it vigorously as he found it without merit.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart noted that it had taken the allegations seriously and was examining the issue. Disney was yet to comment on it.

About two patents involved in the recent lawsuits were declared invalid in a separate suit. The suits were targeted at Amazon, Google, Yahoo and others. The process by which Eolas launched new lawsuits involving those same patents remains unclear.

Earlier, Eolas was engaged in a high-pitched patent dispute with Microsoft in 2007, where a portion of the settlement was $30.4 million.

The Facebook scrip closed Wednesday at $20.93, up $1.50 and 7.73 percent higher than the previous close.

Wal-Mart closed marginally higher Wednesday at $74.07, 0.01 percent higher than the previous close.

Walt Disney closed Wednesday at $51.56 and witnessed a marginal gain in Thursday early trade, opening at $51.60.