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.

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Companies: aol, microsoft

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Comments on “AOL Sells Its Patents To Microsoft For $1 Billion: Microsoft Now Owns Netscape IP”

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18 Comments
Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

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.”

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

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.

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