The patent war between Facebook and Yahoo may be only just starting.A new report says Facebook has acquired 750 patents from computer-systems giant IBM. The news comes shortly after Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement over 10 of its software patents.
A "person with knowledge of the transaction" tipped the news to Bloomberg Businessweek, though the deal hasn't been made public yet.
Compared to other tech companies, Facebook's arsenal of patents is rather meager: The company has just 56 patents compared with the thousands stockpiled by the likes of Microsoft and Apple.
However, the report says, Facebook has applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for at least 500 more. Apparently it didn't want to wait for those to be approved and chose to take a shortcut in stocking up its patent portfolio.
The lawsuit from Yahoo, which has recently had a wholesale change in management and is expected to announce layoffs, likely provided the motivation.
See also: Tech industry scorns Yahoo over Facebook patent suit
Many tech companies are now using patents strategically to both generate revenue and discourage competition. For example, Google licenses many patents from Microsoft in the making of the Android platform, which provides a steady cash flow for Microsoft.
In other cases, such as the many patent lawsuits between Apple and Samsung, patents are used to shut competitors out of entire regions (though that's rarely the outcome).
IBM has been friendly in selling patents to younger tech companies in the past. In January, Google bought 217 patents from the IBM, including one for a "semantic social network."
Reps from Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. An IBM rep declined comment.
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