March 26, 2012 - Facing a patent lawsuit filed against it by Yahoo, Facebook bought 750 patents from IBM to boost its portfolio. The patents are said to cover software and networking.
Prior to this purchase and the Yahoo lawsuit, Facebook also acquired patents from Hewlett-Packard and Friendster. It also has 56 issued patents and 503 filed patent applications.
Since the details have not yet been made public, it isn't clear whether the IBM patents Facebook purchased are related to the Yahoo lawsuit or intended to boost Facebook's patent holdings overall as the company expands. Either way, IP experts speculate that the patent purchase will help assure investors that Facebook has the necessary IP to defend itself against other lawsuits - which is important, as Facebook is currently in 28th place on the list of companies most targeted by patent lawsuits according to LegalMetric.com.
Facebook's IPO filing, as quoted on Bloomberg.com, suggests both uses of the new patents.
“We expect the number of patent and other intellectual property claims against us to grow,” the company said in its filing on February 1, well before Yahoo filed its lawsuit. “We may introduce new products, including in areas where we currently do not compete, which could increase our exposure to patent and other intellectual property claims.”