Patents seemingly make the world go 'round, particularly in the technology space these days. Android, iOS, Samsung, Google, AOL, Microsoft -- hardly a day goes by without someone's patent portfolio making the (positive or negative) news. Today, Microsoft
and Facebook are the ones in the spotlight, announcing an agreement under which Microsoft will assign to Facebook the right to purchase a portion of the patent portfolio it recently agreed to acquire from AOL Inc. Those hundreds of patents were purchased in a bulk buy for around $1 billion from AOL, and now Facebook has agreed to pay for the portion it wants for $550 million in cash. There were rumors that Facebook put in a bid a while back for AOL's lot of patents, but obviously they only wanted to pay for the ones they needed. Hence, Microsoft won the auction and turned right around to sell Facebook the ones it wanted. Brilliant
Upon closing of this transaction with Facebook, Microsoft will retain ownership of approximately 275 AOL patents and applications; a license to the approximately 650 AOL patents and applications that will now be owned by Facebook; and a license to approximately 300 patents that AOL did not sell in its auction. Here's a bit from the companies:
"Today's agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction," said Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel, Microsoft. "As we said earlier this month, we had submitted the winning AOL bid in order to obtain a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio."
"Today's agreement with Microsoft represents an important acquisition for Facebook," said Ted Ullyot, general counsel, Facebook. "This is another significant step in our ongoing process of building an intellectual property portfolio to protect Facebook's interests over the long term."The parties are evaluating the accounting treatment for these transactions. These transactions are also subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended.
This may seem like small beans, but it's big in the grand scheme of things. We're hoping that this also means lawsuits between these giants won't happen, and we can all just hug it out while clicking "Like."