Facebook purchases 750 patents from IBM, doubles portfolio

By Lee Kaelin on

Social networking giant Facebook has moved to increase its patent portfolio by purchasing 750 patents from IBM Corporation for an undisclosed figure, which is thought to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars according to Bloomberg.

The purchase, which has not officially been made public, covers various technologies such as software and networking according to an unnamed source familiar with the situation. It will more than double their current patent portfolio, which currently has at least 56 issued patents as well as 503 patent applications filed with the US Patent Office.

It is not clear if the patent acquisitions were in response to a lawsuit filed by Yahoo last week, which claims Facebook is infringing on ten of its patents covering privacy controls, social networking and advertising, among others.

Companies are increasingly turning to patent purchases as a defensive countermeasure in a bid to fend off lawsuits in an industry that is becoming rife with infringement claims. Google for example, has been using this same tactic as their Android mobile OS comes under increasing fire from several companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. Google is also a regular shopper of patents from IBM, last purchasing 217 from them in January.

In their recent IPO filing, the company commented that they expect intellectual property claims will likely increase as they expand and increase their exposure into areas they do not currently compete in.

With its IPO offering due in May, the lawsuit from Yahoo comes at a critical time for the firm, and will likely end in a settlement or licensing deal ahead of its public offering. The purchase of more patents is also thought to be a move to reassure potential investors that the networking giant has the resources to defend against future claims of intellectual property infringements.

A company spokesperson for Facebook has confirmed the purchase, but declined to provide any further details. IBM Corporation did not respond to requests for further information.

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