Social media giant Twitter is meeting computing giant IBM on the patent field. The microblogging service has acquired more than 900 patents from Big Blue.
"This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provides us with greater intellectual property protection and gives us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service," said Ben Lee, Legal Director for Twitter. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The companies also entered into a patent cross-license agreement. The deal was stuck about two months after Twitter acknowledged that IBM had accused it of violating three of its patents relating to advertising. In November, IBM alleged that Twitter infringed U.S. patents 6,957,224, "efficient retrieval of uniform resource locators"; 7,072,849, "method for presenting advertising in an interactive service"; and 7,099,862, "programmatic discovery of common contacts." This deal appears to have squashed a potentially messy patent lawsuit.
“We are pleased to reach this agreement with Twitter because it illustrates the value of patented IBM inventions and demonstrates our commitment to licensing access to our broad patent portfolio,” said Ken King, General Manager of Intellectual Property for IBM. “We look forward to a productive relationship with Twitter in the future.”
IBM: A Patent Behemoth
IBM is a patent-holding behemoth. In 2013, the company’s inventors received a record-setting 6,809 patents. That’s the 21st consecutive year the company topped the annual list of U.S. patent leaders.
IBM's 2013 patent results represent a diverse range of inventions the company believes will drive significant innovations that will position it to compete and lead in strategic areas. Big Blue’s 2013 patent awards include innovations around IBM’s Watson, cloud computing, big and analytics. These inventions will also advance the new era of cognitive systems where machines will learn, reason and interact with people in more natural ways.
“We take pride in being recognized as the U.S. patent leader, but patents are only one gauge of innovation. Equally significant is the impact that our patented inventions have when they are used to enable solutions that help clients and societies solve problems,” said Bernie Meyerson, IBM Fellow and VP of Innovation. “Furthermore, the broad range of inventions that these patents represent underscores the need for a patent system that equally and fairly promotes and supports innovation across all technical fields.”
Just days earlier, Samsung and Google announced a deeper long-term cooperative partnership with a global patent cross-license agreement. According to the companies, the agreement covers a “broad range of technologies and business areas.”
“We’re pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner Samsung,” said Allen Lo, Deputy General Counsel for Patents at Google. “By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation.”
Samsung and Google described it as a “mutually beneficial agreement” that covers both company’s existing patents as well as those filed over the next 10 years.
With this agreement, Samsung and Google gain access to each other’s patent portfolios. That opens opportunities for deeper collaboration on research and development of current and future products and technologies.
“This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry,” said Seungho Ahn, the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center. “Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”