The patent wars are all the rage amongst tech companies these days. Not too long ago, Microsoft Corp. made news when announcing it purchased approximately 925 patents from AOL, Inc. for an estimated $1.1 billion dollars. The commentary regarding that purchase was equally focused on the impressive sale price for the amount of patents purchased as it was on the fact that tech companies are looking twice at their patent portfolios as litigation and licensing tools.
The latest development is that Facebook, who is currently in a patent infringement battle with Yahoo, recently purchased 650 of the AOL patents from Microsoft for an estimated $550 million dollars. This recent acquisition comes just one month after Facebook purchased 750 patents from IBM.
According to the Wall Street Journal,
Microsoft and Facebook declined to detail the patents involved in the deal. According to a person familiar with the matter, the patents Facebook is buying relate to digital technologies including email, instant messaging, Web browsing, Web search, online advertising, mobile technology, and e-commerce. A person familiar with the matter said Microsoft will continue to own some patents from the AOL trove related to Web-search technology.
As part of the deal between Microsoft and Facebook, Microsoft also received licenses to the 650 patents acquired by Facebook. The licensing deal, which allows Microsoft to use the Facebook-owned technology in its products, was a priority for Microsoft, a person familiar with the company position has said.
Facebook’s deal underscores how technology companies are willing to open their wallets to build caches of intellectual property assets, as patents increasingly are the foundation of fights among tech giants.
Stay tuned for what appears to be the inevitable next patent purchase/litigation threat to emerge from tech companies and their Internet counterparts! It will be interesting to see what Facebook’s patent portfolio will look like by the time they go to trial with Yahoo.