Microsoft's purchase of AOL patents may be about a Google map war

If you connect the dots AOL's patent sale to Microsoft may have a lot to do with the Bing Maps, Mapquest, OpenStreetMap trio vs. Google Maps.

Microsoft bought AOL's patents in a deal valued at $1.056 billion and may have just accelerated a Web map war with Google.

In a statement, AOL said it will sell more than 800 of its patents and patent applications to Microsoft. The deal includes shares of an undisclosed subsidiary so AOL can take a loss for tax purposes.

The deal is good for both parties and the patent auction was apparently competitive, according to Microsoft.

Why would these patents be so hot? There's a Web mapping war going on. Let's connect a few dots:

As mobile location-based services ramp mapping is vital. Google Maps is intertwined with corporate applications and various mashups too. Microsoft has powerful mapping tools too.

Add it up and its a mapping war that pits Google Maps against the OpenStreetMap/Mapquest/Microsoft trio. On March 1, Mapquest said on its developer blog:

Is 2012 the year of Open mapping? We've been ecstatic to see the energy around OpenStreetMap, and have noticed several applications recently convert to using MapQuest-OSM tiles and other companies like foursquare embrace OpenStreetMap as a foundation of their business.

Now it has Mapquest intellectual property in the fold, it will have the tools to either nudge out Google Maps or at the very least sue.

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