Google isn’t the only tech company in the patent news headlines these days. Lately, the most powerful social network, Facebook, has acquired 100 patents from other companies relating to hot, new areas of technology like virtual reality, video, peer-to-peer printing and speech translation.
In fact, a new report by Envision IP, a research firm specializing in intellectual property (IP), analyzed Facebook’s patent purchases since January 2013. Envision IP Founder and Managing Director, Maulin Shah said these purchases may offer clues about where Facebook’s product roadmap might be headed next, including possibilities that range from digital printing services to interactive wearable devices.
Interestingly, one company, Fujifilm, sold the highest number of patents to Facebook, totaling 54; Fujifilm patents are usually in the area of image playback, image editing and presentation along with a point-of-sale terminal for printing images. And patents from AT&T totaled 22, relating to personalized content delivery to analyze the relationship within the network.
In addition to these, Facebook acquired 10 patents from Vega Vista related to head and motion tracking technologies and virtual displays. Also, Inventor Neeraj Jhanji sold total of six patents related to mobile check-in to Facebook. According to Envision IP, Facebook’s in-house engineering team is also getting patents on their own innovations. This data suggests that the company submitted total of 69 patents in 2009, and in 2012 the number of submissions rose to 649, the report shows.
Still, Facebook’s lawyers may be playing it safe in some areas, securing full IP rights in areas that have interested the company for a long time. For example, Facebook bought six patents relating to mobile check-in, which had been developed years ago by inventor Jhanji. In areas including speech translation and facial recognition; however, the patent acquisitions suggest that Facebook may also have big new ideas in store as earlier this year Facebook spent $2 billion to buy Oculus Rift, a startup offering virtual-reality video games.
There is a lot of speculation over the company's next big step, and purchase of patents fans this speculation even more. It is not only getting flak from other social networking sites, but also from the biggest tech giants such as Apple. The mobile payment patent filed by Apple could be a reason to worry for Facebook as Zuckerberg mentioned during the latest earning call that the mobile payment will become more significant part of the platform soon.