Yes, it's another huge sale of patents to an already huge IP behemoth. Microsoft is buying 800 of AOL's 1100 or so patents for a little over $1 billion, while also taking up a license for the remainder 300 AOL patents. In addition, Microsoft is buying all the patents owned by AOL subsidiary Netscape.
"The agreement with Microsoft represents the culmination of a robust auction process for our patent portfolio," said Tim Armstrong, AOL's chairman and CEO in the press release, "We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft. The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value."
"This is a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years and analyzing in detail for several months," added Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, "AOL ran a competitive auction and by participating, Microsoft was able to achieve our two primary goals: obtaining a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio."
The patents in question cover, among others, advertising, search, content generation/management, social networking, mapping, multimedia/streaming, and security. The Netscape patents are virtually all related to browser technology - obviously - and user interface stuff.