AOL and Microsoft have announced an agreement covering the sale of more than 800 AOL patents to Microsoft for $1.056 billion dollars.
As part of the agreement, Microsoft also gains a non-exclusive license to more than 300 other patents that AOL is retaining. And AOL also continues to hold a license on the patents that it’s selling to Microsoft.
The deal comes at a time when tech companies are in something of an arms race over patents, and even a war with Yahoo recently suing Facebook for patent infringement and Facebook counter-suing Yahoo for the same reason. Google bought Motorola Mobility last summer in what was at least partially seen as a patent acquisition.
The AOL-Microsoft deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
There’s already been plenty of speculation about what Microsoft is gaining in the deal. ZDNet has suggested that it may be, in part, related to mapping. The Envision IP blog recently analyzed AOL’s patent portfolio and categorized them into a variety of online and marketing-related topics — from e-commerce to social networking to search engine technology and, the biggest group, “online communication.”
Postscript: Another ZDNet article focuses on the old Netscape patents that are included in the deal, saying that Microsoft “bought what was left of its one time fierce Web browser rival Netscape’s intellectual property to use in attacking Google’s Android and Chrome.”