Facebook has bought 750 patents from IBM in a move that appears designed to bolster its ability to defend itself against patent-related lawsuits, particularly a recently issued case from rival Yahoo.
The 750 patents cover technologies relating to software and networking, according to Bloomberg, and will reinforce to the social networking giant's patent portfolio, which was believed to stand at roughly 56 issued patents to date.
The patent acquisition comes hot on the heels of Yahoo's decision to sue Facebook for patent infringements, ahead of its initial public offering.
It isn't yet clear how useful the patent deal will be for Facebook, when it comes to defending itself against patent infringement claims.
According to some reports, Yahoo has previously licensed the patents that IBM has just sold to Facebook. If true, owning those patents would put Facebook in a much stronger position when it comes to negotiating with Yahoo.
Nevertheless, not all patents are equally useful when it comes to litigation, so the strategic value of the acquisition is, as yet, uncertain.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company had “purchased a set of patents from IBM”, but did not provide any further details.
Mark Kenrick, a partner at law firm Marks & Clerk LLP, said the deal underlined the importance technology vendors are placing in building strong patent portfolios.
"The attitude of the major internet players provides clear opportunities for smaller internet businesses as it provides a clear market place in which they can market their technology and patent portfolios," he added.
Earlier this month, Facebook disclosed that it had established a new credit line, worth $5bn, which would be used for working capital and general corporate purchases. That fund would provide it with significant scope to buy other patents should it feel inclined to do so.