Twitter buys patents, seals licensing pact with IBM

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:08pm GMT

A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc has bought 900 patents and signed a cross-licensing agreement with IBM, making peace with Big Blue and bulking up on its intellectual property portfolio as it takes on larger rivals Google and Facebook.

The agreement announced on Friday comes after International Business Machines Corp accused Twitter in November - on the eve of its high-profile initial public offering - of infringing three of its patents. At the time, it underscored how few patents the six-year-old social media company possessed in relation to more established rivals.

A cross-licensing agreement will help safeguard Twitter against similar claims in the future.

IBM is one of the industry's largest research spenders and stockpilers of intellectual property, a consistent leader in U.S. patent filings and the owner of some 41,000 patents.

Twitter is following on the heels of Facebook, which itself faced similar claims before its own 2012 IPO. The world's largest social network has since gone on a patent-buying spree, acquiring intellectual property from tech bellwethers, including Microsoft Corp and IBM.

"This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provide us with greater intellectual property protection and give us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service," Ben Lee, Twitter's legal director, said in a joint statement with IBM on Friday.

(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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