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Facebook buys 750 patents from IBM to build defense against Yahoo!


On February 1 Facebook announced it was seeking to raise $5 billion in funds through an initial public offering.


Justin Sullivan

LONDON, UK – Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking service, has bought a portfolio of 750 technology patents from IBM to help counter allegations of intellectual property infringement, a source with knowledge of the transaction has said.

According to Bloomberg, the patents – which cover software, networking and other technologies – will substantially increase the size of Facebook’s intellectual property portfolio, which includes 56 issued patents and 503 US patent applications.

The reported acquisition comes less than two weeks after web portal Yahoo! launched a wide-ranging patent lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the firm’s “entire social network model” was based on its technology and infringed its rights to innovations in online advertising, messaging, news feeds, privacy controls and customisation, the BBC reports.

Technology publication The Verge has cited an unnamed source who claims that some of the patents involved in the Facebook-IBM deal might have been licensed by IBM to Yahoo! Facebook and IBM have declined to comment on the transaction.

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Facebook has already been acquiring patents from other holders to swell its portfolio, The Daily Telegraph reports, including the early social-networking website Friendster and HP, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

On February 1 Facebook announced it was seeking to raise $5 billion in funds through an initial public offering (IPO). Yahoo! hinted later that month that it might file a patent infringement claim against the California-based multinational, and followed through on this threat on March 12.

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It is not clear how much Facebook paid for the IBM patents, Reuters reports, but intellectual property prices have risen as technology companies seek to build up their portfolios.

In August technology giant Google announced it would buy cellphone maker Motorola Mobility for its 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications.

US and EU antitrust regulators approved the $12.5 billion acquisition last month, the biggest deal in Google’s 13-year history.

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