Facebook buys IBM patents

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook confirmed Friday that it has added a trove of IBM patents to its arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Reports that Facebook bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM surfaced less than two weeks after struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! accused the thriving young firm of infringing on 10 of its patents.

"I can confirm that there was a purchase but I don't have any other details to share," Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said in response to an AFP inquiry.

IBM would not comment.

Acquisition of the patents came as California-based Facebook prepared for an initial public offering and as Internet titans increasingly battle in courts as well as in marketplaces.

Yahoo!, in a lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California on March 12, accused Facebook of infringing on patents in several areas including advertising, privacy and messaging.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company asked the court to order Facebook to halt its alleged patent-infringing activities and to assess unspecified damages.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004, a decade after Yahoo!, expressed disappointment with the move.

"We're disappointed that Yahoo!, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation," a Facebook spokeswoman said.

In the suit, Yahoo! said that Facebook's growth to more than 850 million users "has been based in large part on Facebook's use of Yahoo!'s patented technology."

"For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo! got there first and was therefore granted patents by the United States Patent Office to protect those innovations," Yahoo! said.

"Yahoo!'s patents relate to cutting edge innovations in online products, including in messaging, news feed generation, social commenting, advertising display, preventing click fraud and privacy controls."

Once seen as the Internet's leading light, Yahoo! has struggled in recent years to build a strongly profitable, growing business out of its huge Web presence and global audience.

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