A Facebook spokesperson on Friday confirmed to TPM the purchase of 450 software patents from IBM. Bloomberg on Thursday night first reported that the world’s largest social network had purchased the patents from the world’s leader in patent awards (for 19 consecutive years and running).
Facebook’s spokesperson declined to elaborate to TPM the nature of the patents purchased or the amount paid, but Bloomberg and others have widely speculated that Facebook made the bid in an effort to bolster its defenses against Yahoo, which recently sued Facebook for infringement of 10 of Yahoo’s software patents.
That lawsuit, filed on March 12 in California federal court, seeks triple the worth of the patents in damages. (Yahoo’s patent lawsuit against its current business partner Facebook has made Yahoo, already struggling to shed its image as a “has been” into a pariah in Silicon Valley and beyond.)
Facebook is reportedly concerned about the effect that Yahoo’s lawsuit could have on its bid to go public. Facebook’s latest IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commissioned, dated March 7, revealed in advance the companies worries about the Yahoo lawsuit:
“We presently are involved in a number of lawsuits, and as we face increasing competition and gain an increasingly high profile, including in connection with our initial public offering, we expect the number of patent and other intellectual property claims against us to grow. For example, on February 27, 2012, we received a letter from Yahoo! Inc. that alleged that a number of our products infringe the claims of 13 of Yahoo’s patents. We are still in the process of investigating the allegations contained in the letter. To date, Yahoo has not commenced any legal action against us, but it may do so in the future.”
Facebook’s paperwork also notes that as of December 31, 2011, the company only had “56 issued patents and 503 filed patent applications in the United States and 33 corresponding patents and 149 filed patent applications in foreign countries relating to social networking.”