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Facebook buys 750 IBM patents

Updated The social network prepares for a patents war with Yahoo
Fri Mar 23 2012, 11:33

FACEBOOK HAS ACQUIRED 750 patents from IBM as the social network reinforces its defences in anticipation of a legal showdown with Yahoo over intellectual property issues.

IBM and Facebook are keeping tight lipped about the details of the patents deal. However, reports suggest that the patents pertain to a wide range of technologies. Speaking to Bloomberg, a Facebook insider who asked not to be named said that patents cover various technologies including software and networking. The source requested anonymity as the transaction has not been announced yet by the two companies.

Although details remain scarce, Facebook might have coughed up "hundreds of millions of dollars" for the IBM patents, Erin-Michael Gill, chief intellectual property officer at investment bank MDB told Bloomberg. "This is a very big deal," said Gill. "Facebook is now where it's supposed to be."

Facebook's apparently defensive move comes after Yahoo filed a lawsuit against the social network in a California court alleging that it is infringing 10 Yahoo patents that pertain to advertising, online privacy management and social networking.

"We're disappointed that Yahoo, a long-time business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation," Facebook said in a statement.

The complaint filed at the San Jose federal courthouse said Facebook has infringed 10 patents that Yahoo obtained over the past decade for software used to create and sell online advertising, as well as technology used in online messaging, customizing content for individual web site visitors and protecting visitors' privacy.

We have asked both Facebook and IBM whether they wish to comment.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the company has purchased a set of patents from IBM but added, "We are not commenting on the number, price or what the patents cover." µ


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