Wireless Ink Corp. filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Wireless Ink's 62-page patent, which it said was published in 2004, outlines the structure of a system for sharing information on a wireless network.
The decision to sue multibillion-dollar companies wasn't made lightly by Wireless Ink's owners, who were not immediately available for comment, their lawyer, Jeremy Pitcock, of Nanuet, said Wednesday.
"It's certainly a small company, and they're very big companies," Pitcock said, "But any large companies, no matter how large, should have to pay for technology that others developed." The patent lists its inventors as David Walker Harper of Bay Shore, Jason James Sabella of Coram, and William Henry Munch of Huntington.
Wireless Ink's patent includes numerous drawings, graphics and text explanations. It presents a detailed network structure and techniques for managing messages, photos and other data exchanged among a group of mobile phone users.
Wireless Ink asks the court to award treble damages for willful infringement of the patent.
The Facebook and Google "infringing products were launched years after the initial publication" of the patent in 2004, the suit claims. "Given the time and resources [Google and Facebook] have invested in their desktop and mobile Web sites as well as their strategic importance . . . both defendants had knowledge of the [patent] and have willfully infringed its claims," the lawsuit says.
Andrew Noyes, a manager for public policy communications at Facebook, replied, "We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously." Andrew Pederson of Google said, "We believe these claims are without merit, and we'll defend vigorously against them."