Facebook Accuses Boston Phoenix Owner, WFNX Radio of Breaching Two Patents

Facebook Inc., the world’s biggest social-networking website, accused the owner of the Boston Phoenix newspaper and WFNX radio station of infringing two patents related to ways to manage information online.

Facebook filed the complaint today in federal court in Boston against Phoenix Media/Communications Group Inc. and its People2People Group, Tele-Publishing and FNX Broadcasting units. The allegations were made in response to a patent-infringement lawsuit Tele-Publishing filed last year against Palo Alto, California-based Facebook.

Facebook claims features including the “band guide” and “find restaurants” on the newspaper’s website, as well as the radio station’s online music player, are infringing the two patents. It’s seeking cash compensation and an order that would prevent further use of the inventions.

In the case filed last year, Facebook is challenging the validity of the Tele-Publishing patent for a computer network that provides a personal page, and contends it isn’t using the technology. Facebook initially made the infringement allegations against Phoenix in July as part of that case. U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock in October ordered Facebook to file a separate lawsuit if it wanted to pursue the claims.

Officials with Phoenix Media didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The case is Facebook Inc. v. Phoenix Media/Communications Group Inc., 10cv11917, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston). The earlier case is Tele-Publishing Inc. v. Facebook Inc., 09cv11686, also in Boston.

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

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