Facebook goes on patent shopping spree

By Andrew Charlesworth
26 Mar 2012 View Comments
Image of Facebook logo and login screen

Facebook has splashed out an undisclosed sum on hundreds of IBM patents ahead of its stock market flotation.

Although the social network giant has declined to say how many patents it has bought from IBM, or how much it paid for them, a report by Bloomberg said Facebook had acquired 750 patents covering networking and software.

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Earlier this month, internet portal Yahoo filed suit against Facebook, alleging infringement of 10 patents.

Facebook's IP splurge is being interpreted by industry experts as a way of defending against further lawsuits ahead of its up-coming initial public offering (IPO).

In the wake of Yahoo's suit, legal experts warned that high-profile IPOs would spark patent spats because soon-to-float companies would be under pressure to settle quickly with rights holders to reassure jittery investors.

Last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted IBM 6,180 patents, topping the USPTO's annual list of recipient companies for the 19th consecutive year.

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