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Twitter avoids IP face-off with Big Blue, will buy 900 IBM patents

Joins mega-patent-having tech titan club, will cross-license too

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Six-year-old Twitter has agreed to buy 900 patents from IP superstore IBM after Big Blue threatened to sue the microblogging firm last year.

IBM wrote to Twitter just before the company was due to go public last year, telling the firm that it was infringing on at least three of Big Blue's patents and inviting the company to sort it out or face the consequences.

Twitter copped to the letter in a filing with the SEC in November, but said it reckoned it had "meritorious defences to IBM's allegations".

It appears to have turned out to be better for the firm to just stock up its patent war chest instead so it can stave off litigation from IBM and anyone else that fancies a pop, as Big Blue announced that Twitter had bought over 900 patents from the firm and entered into a cross-licensing agreement.

"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 Twitter's legal director Ben Lee in the canned statement.

Twitter has a serious lack of intellectual property compared to other tech firms and said in its filings ahead of its market debut that its dearth of patents could make it a target for litigation.

IBM consistently tops the charts of companies with mega-arsenals of patents and has been a common shopping destination for other tech firms seeking to bolster their own intellectual property counts.

Back in 2012, Facebook bought around 750 patents off Big Blue to help it settle a lawsuit with Yahoo! and Google has bought thousands of patents from the firm in the last few years, as it combats legal attacks on its Android OS. ®

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