Patent-holding company Rembrandt Social Media, acting on behalf of the widow of Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer, has filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Virginia.
The suit charges Facebook is using two of Van Der Meer's patents without permission.
Rembrandt now owns those patents for technologies Van Der Meer utilized in creating a fledgling social network, called Surfbook, before his death in 2004, the BBC reported Monday.
In 1998, five years before Facebook was created, the patents were granted to Van Der Meer, lawyers for Rembrandt said.
Surfbook was a social site that allowed people to share information with friends and family and approve some data using a "like" button.
"We believe Rembrandt's patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence," attorney Tom Melsheimer said.
Facebook said it had no comment to make regarding the legal action.