Facebook acquires 750 patents from IBM (rumor)

Facebook has reportedly acquired 750 patents from IBM, according to a new rumor. If true, it means the company may stand a better chance in fighting patent lawsuits from Yahoo and Mitel.

Facebook has reportedly acquired 750 patents from International Business Machines (IBM). The patents cover various technologies such as software and networking, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction cited by Bloomberg. Unsurprisingly, both Facebook and IBM declined to comment.

It's not clear how much Facebook paid for the patents, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was several hundreds of millions of dollars. The intellectual property may significantly help Menlo Park counter recent allegations of patent infringement. To get the help it needs, the social networking giant went straight to the source: IBM has topped the list of U.S. patent recipients for 19 straight years.

Last month, Yahoo threatened Facebook with patent war. Last week, the online giant sued the social networking giant over 10 patents and the technology industry made sure to criticize Yahoo like never before. This week, Mitel sued Facebook over two patents.

Facebook is sued over patents all the time, but Mitel is the second public company to do so in just a couple of weeks. It's not clear yet, but Yahoo may have started a very worrying trend for Menlo Park, and so the company is arming itself appropriately.

Some say Facebook should just buy Yahoo. Others think Microsoft should come to Facebook's rescue. A recent rumor, however, points to Facebook fighting back by itself, and this is looking more and more likely.

Yahoo has thousands of patents while Facebook has 62, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Those are the ones that have been filed in each of the companies' names; both firms have more patents each, but either way Yahoo has significantly more than Facebook.

In fact, Facebook has even more patents in total (it has purchased patents from Friendster and from HP). If this IBM rumor proves true, however, it has over 800. That's still a far cry from Yahoo (remember, the Web giant has several thousand including those it has acquired over the years) but Facebook's situation no longer looks dire.

Update: Facebook has confirmed it acquired patents from IBM, but wouldn't elaborate further.

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