AOL Sells Its Patents To Microsoft For $1 Billion: Microsoft Now Owns Netscape IP

from the not-quite-a-troll dept

Just a few weeks ago, we had mentioned reports that AOL was looking to sell its patents. Sometimes, those kinds of things take a while, and may even involve auctions and whatnot. However, it looks like AOL got the deal done quickly, selling over 800 patents to Microsoft for just over $1 billion. The "good news" here is that the patents don't end up in the hands of a pure patent troll, who will do nothing but sue over them. The bad news, of course, is that Microsoft is quite aggressive in suing others for patent infringement anyway, and you can expect some of these patents to start showing up in wasteful, innovation-hindering lawsuits before too long. And, of course, there's the natural dead-weight loss of a ton of money going into buying patents, rather than directly into actual innovation.

Of course, there's an interesting twist in all of this. Peter Kafka notes that Microsoft basically bought all Netscape assets outside of the name/trademarks, etc. From a historical standpoint, that's pretty interesting, seeing as how big the early internet battle was between Microsoft and Netscape for who would win the war to control the window into the internet. It would then be especially ironic (and ridiculous) if Microsoft used those patents to sue others, after spending so much time trying to kill off Netscape... Such is the bizarre world of patents these days, I guess.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Jay (profile), Apr 9th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    Oh great...

    Now we have to deal with Microsoft threatening Mozilla since it's based on Netscape before all of the hubbub...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 9th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Oh great...

    "Yeah, you know, a monopolist's work is never done. No such thing as a perfect monopoly. Seems like you can never get that last one-tenth of one percent."
    -Snow Crash

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    PlagueSD (profile), Apr 9th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Wait...what???

    I guess the "new" saying is, "If you can't beat them...Buy them."

    This will get interesting...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 9th, 2012 @ 2:54pm

    Wouldn't most of these patents be pretty old? If they are from the early years of Netscape they must be approaching expiration in a few years. It seems to me there would also be some laches issues with the patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    PlagueSD (profile), Apr 9th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    Re:

    That's a good point. Unless I'm mistaken, patents only last 20 years. If that's true, then AOL made out like a bandit for selling patents that are about to expire for $1 billion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 9th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    Re: It seems to me there would also be some laches issues with the patents.

    If laches were a serious doctrine, there could never be submarine patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    P3T3R5ON, Apr 9th, 2012 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Oh great...

    Hopefully people (judges) still understand the concept of being 'grandfathered-in' and Mozilla will be safe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    iPhone application guy, Apr 9th, 2012 @ 10:14pm

    It was just a matter of time.

    Thanks for the update and insight. I heard about this a while back and have been waiting for it to happen. It has been interesting to watch this develop and it will be interesting to see what Microsoft does next!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    apauld, Apr 9th, 2012 @ 10:35pm

    so, two prostitutes...

    ...just exchanged some serious STDs. Awesome; here's hoping they both die from Syphillis; an old school disease that they are both to arrogant to acknowledge the exitence of...
    apauld.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 9th, 2012 @ 10:52pm

    Big tech companies have a lot in common with big companies in any inudstry

    With big tech companies buying patents from each other, it's become something of a major league game these days.

    Microsoft to Buy AOL Patents for More Than $1 Billion - NYTimes.com: "While Microsoft is struggling in the smartphone market, it is doing a brisk business in licensing its intellectual property to smartphone makers using rival software, analysts say."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 10th, 2012 @ 12:04am

    Re: Big tech companies have a lot in common with big companies in any inudstry

    While some tech stories have been spun over the years as being about grassroots empowerment, I think our economic system encourages, in the end, power and money plays. Tech doesn't seem any more immune to this than any other industry. (If anything, young multi-billionaire tech entrepreneurs are glorified: it really IS about the money.)

    So now the big tech companies are the status quo, and perhaps something new will come along and upset them and begin the process anew. Right now I like the shareable/sustainability/localization movements as counterbalances to the establishment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Zenstrive (profile), Apr 10th, 2012 @ 12:41am

    The only war that hinders technological advancements is patent war. I guess. World War I and II promote advancements. Cold War promote advancements. Well, mostly on how we kill each others, but still...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    RT Cunningham (profile), Apr 10th, 2012 @ 2:30am

    OSS

    I think I now understand why Google pursued Chromium. It's the least patented tech so far (except maybe by them with the wicked stepdaughter known as Chrome).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    AlexNagy (profile), Apr 10th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    What?!

    I just died a little bit today.

    FWIW, I have an official install disk of Netscape Communicator 4.7 at home. Never getting rid of it, after all, it's part of history (now that MS owns Netscape IP...).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Jeff Downer, Apr 10th, 2012 @ 7:32am

    Maybe Microsoft can buy Mosaic next.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    not important, Apr 10th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re:

    Maybe ms can right this off as charity..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 10th, 2012 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    The original IE was pretty much Mosaic wrapped in new clothes and foisted on us as something "new and improved" which only goes to show that what works for selling detergents seems to work just as well for "selling" software!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 13th, 2012 @ 11:53am

    If only this would enable Microsoft to make good, functional and secure browsers...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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