A civil trial is underway today in federal court in Virginia, where Facebook is being sued by a holding company called Rembrandt Social Media.

The lawsuit alleges that a Dutch computer whiz, Joannes Van Der Meer, developed and patented methods for running a web-based personal diary before Facebook came into existence.

But his website, Surfbook, never got off the ground.

Facebook fought unsuccessfully for more than a year to keep the case from getting to a jury. The company says the patents should never have been issued to Van Der Meer.

Agencies