Facebook’s Patent Hunger Games

Facebook is buying patents again.  They are hungry and they move fast.

Last month they picked up 750 patents from IBM.  Yesterday they announced the purchase of another 650 patents from Microsoft. Not just any patents, but the very same patents that Microsoft just bought from AOL.  That’s the same AOL that bought up a company called Netscape in 1998.  Netscape, if you recall, produced the first serious commercial grade browser.

That leaves Facebook, the relative ‘new kid on the block,’ with patents that date from the earliest days of the modern Internet.  They are now well equipped to fight back against Yahoo, patent for patent.

The numbers involved here are staggering.  In its lawsuit filed in February against Facebook, Yahoo asserted 10 patents.  In two months Facebook has gone from having no IP arsenal to having more than a thousand properties. A counter suit is already underway.

In all of this, however, I hope we don’t lose sight of the fact that each patent represents an invention and that each invention represents the focused creativity of productive and smart human beings.  While Facebook may have acquired the aggregated work of thousands, each individual invention still counts and Yahoo’s 10 patents still need to be accounted for.

As an independent inventor I find that encouraging.

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