Facebook has bought 750 IBM patents in an attempt to bolster its defences against lawsuits from the likes of Yahoo, according to multiple reports.
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the patents, which would vastly outweigh the relatively meagre arsenal Facebook already has, cover software and networking technologies. The information came from "a person with knowledge of the transaction", Bloomberg said, and both companies have apparently declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted a "person familiar with the matter" as saying the patents also deal with search and semiconductors.
According to both reports, the purchase of the IBM patents was directly linked with fending off a suit launched by Yahoo earlier this month. In that suit, Yahoo alleged that Facebook was infringing on patents it holds on privacy, advertising, instant messaging and social networking.
Before the reported IBM deal, Facebook already had at least 56 patents and 503 patent applications in the US. Yahoo has thousands of granted patents.
Buying patents as a defensive measure is an established tactic that Google has also been employing of late, after Android came under sustained attack from Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. In fact, thousands of the patents Google has been buying have come from IBM, a company whose decades of research and acquisitions have resulted in a bulging intellectual property portfolio.
Facebook is preparing to become a public company in May, so the patent purchase may also serve to reassure potential investors that the firm has the resources with which to defend itself against future attacks.