Yahoo Inc
Yahoo's corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. PA

Yahoo Inc. has reportedly asked social networking Web site Facebook to pay a licensing fee for using technology the former claims to hold Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to. There has even been talk of legal action if Facebook refuses to comply.

The patents in question, according to The New York Times, cover technology connected to advertising, personalisation of Web sites, social networking and messaging. Representatives of the two companies met on Monday to discuss the issue.

"Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property. We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights," a spokesperson from Yahoo is quoted as saying, in a statement e-mailed to The New York Times.

Meanwhile, a report in the Financial Times claims Yahoo's complaint comes right after Facebook's hugely anticipated initial public offering and could give the former a strong bargaining position.

"Yahoo contacted us at the same time they called the New York Times and so we haven't had the opportunity to fully evaluate their claims," a Facebook spokesman is quoted as saying by Reuters.

Incidentally, the Reuters report also notes that social networking Web sites, like Facebook, have seen increased patent claims filed against them, as they prepare for their initial public offerings.