Facebook and Yahoo! Let bygones be bygones


Let bygones be bygones, right?

Ahead of Facebook‘s (Nasdaq: FB) roller coaster of an IPO earlier this year, purple searcher Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) hurled a patent assault against the social-networking kingpin. The timing of the suit was suspect, as Facebook was entering a quiet period and just generally had its hands full leading up to its offering, so patent litigation was the last thing it wanted to be dealing with.

Even Facebook was rather perplexed by the move, since it had considered the pair’s relationship mostly copacetic up until that point, saying Yahoo! had “substantially benefited from its association with Facebook.” It did the same thing to Google ahead of the now-dominant search engine’s offering in 2004 and was able to extract some dollars and shares out of Big G back when it was Little G, totaling approximately US$201 million.

The suit also proved to be a painful reminder to Facebook that it needed to beef up its patent portfolio for defence and offence, as it had also countersued Yahoo! It then dipped into tech’s unofficial armoury, buying roughly 750 patents from IBM (NYSE: IBM). A month later, Facebook then bought 650 more patents off business buddy Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), which it in turn had just bought off AOL (NYSE: AOL).

According to All Things D, the two companies have now agreed to a truce and are settling the infringement lawsuit. Facebook and Yahoo! are now expanding their existing partnership, which will include joint ad sales and patent cross-licensing.

The suit was instigated by ex-CEO Scott Thompson, who has since stepped down because of the whole fudging-your-resume-to-become-the-CEO-of-a-multibillion-dollar-company thing. Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who is likely to soon drop the “interim” from his title, led the settlement talks with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

If the two companies hadn’t settled, they would be looking at a long, drawn-out, and costly legal battle that would probably burn bridges, so the settlement will benefit both Facebook and Yahoo!, especially if they can turn it into top-line upside.

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The Motley Fools purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

A version of this article, written by Evan Niu, originally appeared on fool.com

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