Facebook Sued for Patent Infringement for Apache Zookeeper Software Project

A July 29 complaint filed by BCS Software, LLC, alleged that Facebook, Inc., has infringed on one of its software patents. It claimed by operating its Apache Zookeeper service, Facebook usurped patented technology owned by BCS, an Austin, Texas-based company that offers patented software design, patented software consulting, and patented database design consulting services, according to its website.

BCS’s U.S. Patent No. 7,890,809 (the ’809 Patent), was issued on February 15, 2011 in recognition of it as a “High Level Operational Support System.” It falls within the field of improvements in “wireless communication carriers,” and more particularly, relates to “operational support system (OSS), application/systems management, and network management,” according to the complaint.

Specifically, the ’809 Patent’s high level OSS framework “provides the infrastructure and analytical system to enable all applications and systems to be managed  dynamically at runtime  regardless of platform or programming technology.” According to BCS’s complaint, “the ’809 Patent improves the computer functionality itself and represents a technological improvement to the operation of computers.”

The patent’s method works by monitoring the health of a plurality of client applications and their distributed components from a physical server. This uses a common monitoring protocol, which is an independent programming technology. The method also assesses the health of the client applications and distributed components, and associates the two as belonging “to a single application node.”

The complaint’s single count accuses Facebook of infringing on the ’809 Patent by “making, using, and operating the Apache Zookeeper service,” and “intend[ing] to induce its customers to infringe the ’809 Patent by encouraging its customers to use the Apache Zookeeper service.”

Facebook’s Apache Zookeeper allegedly operates in many of the same ways as the ‘809 patent, including the use of a physical server, and a plurality of client applications and their distributed components. BCS avers that Apache Zookeeper is conducting the same processes contained in the ‘809 patent when “monitoring of the health of [a] session between client and zookeeper” and when generating notifications each time a z-node/data-node is either created or deleted.

Further, Apache Zookeeper allegedly duplicates a common monitoring protocol, an independent programming technology, through its “Curator RPC module using Apache Thrift protocol,” and the “[c]oordination of software components/independent programs running independently on ever-changing multiple machines.”

For the infringement, BCS seeks declaratory relief and damages. Last year, BCS sued LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. for infringement of the same patent and others, in a suit also filed in the Western District of Texas. The complaint was voluntarily dismissed by BCS prior to LG’s filing of its answer.