Bracing Itself for More Suits, Facebook Buys 750 IBM Patents

It’s official: Facebook brass confirmed that the company bought I.B.M. patents pertaining to software and networking technology. What hasn’t been confirmed, though, is just how much the world’s most popular social network paid to obtain ownership of those patents. According to Bloomberg, I.B.M. handed over 750 patents during the transaction.

At the start of February, when Facebook submitted paperwork necessary to go public, the company revealed that it held, at the time, 56 patents; it had formally applied for 503. Media analysts are predicting that Facebook will be the target of patent suits in the coming months, if not years, due the enormity of its imminent IPO. Yahoo has already taken it patent beef with Facebook to court in San Jose, Calif.

The social Web behemoth even acknowledged its special litigious predicament with regard to patents in the documents turned over the SEC in the February S-1 filing. The recent big buy is believed to have cost Facebook hundreds of millions, but it just may save it from losing greater amounts to weaker market rivals that nevertheless possess more robust intellectual property portfolios.

Overall, Facebook is expected to make through this phase of vulnerability to patent suits. It’s unclear how well its rivals will fare as their popularity continues to diminish.

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