Facebook has acquired 750 patents from IBM in an attempt to help protect itself from lawsuits such as that leveled against the social networking giant earlier this month by Yahoo, according to a source cited in several published reports.
In this ever more litigious technology business, those with the biggest portfolio of patents tend to fare better than those with weaker portfolios. And IBM is king when it comes to patent arsenals. Big Blue has led the world in U.S. patents for the last 19 years in a row.
According to several reports and first reported by Bloomberg, Facebook acquired patents from IBM in areas, ranging from search to semiconductors and much in between. Facebook has confirmed the purchase, but IBM so far has not commented.
Earlier this month, Yahoo filed suit against Facebook, claiming the social network violated 10 of its patents primarily relating to online messaging and advertising. Facebook appeared surprised in its response and called the lawsuit puzzling.
Meanwhile, as the battle for the biggest patent arsenal goes, Yahoo has more than 1,000 U.S. patents and Facebook had only 56 patents issued and 503 applications pending at the end of last year.
For its part, IBM is swimming in patents, so much so that it can afford to sell off parcels of its patent portfolio to relative upstarts in the patent world like Google and Facebook. IBM sold more than 2,000 patents to Google last year and sold the company another 200-plus in 2012 to help the search giant defend itself against legal claims.
In January, IBM announced that for the 19th consecutive year, it led the world in patents, gaining 6,180 patents in 2011. Big Blue set a record in not only leading the world in U.S. patents, but also being the first company to receive 6,000 patents in a given year. IBMs 6,180 patents for 2011 quadruples HPs and is more than six times the number of patents Oracle received over the same period, the company said.