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

Summary: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.

Topics: Legal, Google, Microsoft

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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