Facing Lawsuit from Yahoo!, Facebook Purchases 750 IBM Patents
In a Thursday article, an unidentified source — speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been made public — told Bloomberg‘s Brian Womack that the patents cover a variety of technology, including some related to software and networking.
Dan Levine and Alexei Oreskovic of Reuters, also citing an unnamed source, added that search and semiconductor-related patents were also part of the deal.
Womack adds that the Mark Zuckerberg-founded website owns at least 56 issued patents, including some acquired from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and social-networking pioneer Friendster, and has applied for more than 500 others as well.
“The world´s largest social network is bolstering its legal defenses as it comes under attack from Yahoo!, which filed a wide-ranging patent infringement claim against it this month,” the UK newspaper The Telegraph reported on Friday. “Yahoo! claims Facebook is infringing its patents on online advertising, privacy controls, news feeds and messaging services.”
Facebook told Levine and Oreskovic that they had no comment on the deal, while IBM representatives could not be reached for comment by the Reuters reporters as of Friday morning. BBC News also attempted to contact both parties, as well as Yahoo! — who they report might have licensed some of the patents involved — but each declined to comment on the transaction.
“If Facebook has bought patents that IBM had already licensed to Yahoo it could tilt things in their favor,” Ilya Kazi of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys told the BBC. “It would certainly strengthen Facebook’s negotiating hand. Depending on the sale terms they could terminate the licenses which could put Yahoo in a difficult position.”
The Telegraph said that Facebook filed documents with regulators last month in preparation for their IPO filing, and in those documents, company representatives said that they expected “the number of patent and other intellectual property claims against us to grow“¦ We may introduce new products, including in areas where we currently do not compete, which could increase our exposure to patent and other intellectual property claims.”
Reuters reports that it is currently “unclear” how much the social networking giant paid IBM for the patents.