updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
Facebook rumored to have bought 750 IBM patents
Facebook has bought 750 patents from IBM in order to be better protected against patent infringement lawsuits, Bloomberg was told by a purported source close to the affair. The deal isn't yet public, but the patents were said to cover software and networking technologies, among others. Its purchase was almost certainly triggered by Yahoo's recent lawsuit against the social network over web patents.
Yahoo seeks triple damages, including current and past royalties, for Facebook's alleged violation of its patented technologies related to tracking and verifying ad hits, privacy, social networking, and messaging. It also sought Facebook's shut-down or a significant rebuilding of its website.
Thus far, Facebook has a minimum of 56 issued patents and has filed 503 US patent applications in the US, with even more overseas. It nevertheless needs to defend itself, as LegalMetric has documented 22 patent suits against it last year alone.
IBM, which is a leader of US patent recipients for 19 straight years, is selling them to various companies, giving up 1,030 of them to Google last year. Itself it received 6,180 new patents in 2011, the source claimed. Whether the IBM patent acquisition will help Facebook in its current legal battle with Yahoo isn't clear, though the patents are likely to help in the future against any new threats.