Acquisitions, mergers, and strategic investments have the potential to transform the technologies that power the Web. Companies like Google or Yahoo have made acquisitions of other companies for their technology, or to hire their employees because they have experience that might otherwise be difficult to acquire.
When writing about acquisitions, I have tried to include links to granted patents and patent applications that may have come with the acquisition as well.
Most news about acquisitions made on the web for technology companies doesn’t include information about the finances involved in those acquisitions.
Google Glasses aren’t the only Heads up Display that Google will likely use or demonstrate. Imagine that Google acquired eye-tracking technology that let you use your gaze as a mouse, and tracked your eye movements to see what you are looking at. Google has acquired such technology.
I looked up the granted patents and pending patent applications from Eyeinfluence. Some of these have the same name and are possibly continuation patents (with different claims). I’m seeing differences in the claims that are worth comparing to see how the technology behind them has been updated. With Google looking at Virtual Reality applications and likely more Augmented Reality applications, it’s good seeing them investing in other related technologies, such as eye tracking.
What does this acquisition of Flyby Media mean for Apple’s Efforts in developing Augmented Reality Devices and Media?
I noticed this headline in the news this morning: Apple patent details visual-based AR navigation, confirms Flyby Media acquisition.
The article tells us that augmented reality can be accomplished by using information from a phone such as image data from a camera, and sensor data from devices such as a gyroscope and an accelerometer, and that information can be augmented by marrying images of reality with computer generated imagery.
I checked out the patent referred to in the article, and it had me wondering what role Flyby Media played in Google’s Project Tango, which we are told that they used in the Apple Insider article.
The patent linked to in that news story is in Apple’s name, but the inventors are originally from Flyby Media. The patent is:
Google is possibly most well known for the patenting of an algorithm that sorted and ordered search results based upon a metric known as PageRank, named after Google Co-Founder Lawrence Page, while he was a student at Stanford University. Yahoo started off as a Web Directory, which became a Search Engine, and the patent it might be most well known for is one that it purchased from Overture (Originally Goto.com), and successfully sued Google with (winning a settlement out of the litigation) which describes paid search. That patent appears to have been assigned by Yahoo, along with a number of other patents last month.
On April 18th, 2016 an assignment was recorded at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on a transaction that appears to have been executed on April 18th, 2016 involving the assignment of 2648 patents from Yahoo! Inc. to Excalibur IP, LLC. It’s possible that name is made up to hold the patents temporarily. The address that the assignment indicates is Excalibur’s is “701 FIRST AVENUE SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 94089”. A search for that address points to the headquarters of Yahoo! as we see in the knowledge panel below, so the actual purchaser appears unknown.
I wondered how many patents Lycos might have, and what they covered, so I looked them up. Lycos hasn’t been around as a search engine for a few years, and yet it’s possible that there’s some value left in these patents. Some look very interesting, like the one about collections (Google just came out with a couple of patents on collections.) Here they are:
It was a surprise to see a number of Yahoo! patents listed in Google’s assignment database as having been assigned to Google. With news recently that Yahoo would be closing the Yahoo Directory, that seemed like a strategic choice. Now I’m wondering if we will ever see an independent Yahoo Search Engine ever again once their deal to have Microsoft supply search results to them ends.
The USPTO assignment database doesn’t disclose financial details of transactions like this, so we don’t know things like how much the transaction cost or if there were licensing agreements accompanying the transaction.
A number of these patents seem to have orginated at Yahoo!, but some were acquired by Yahoo when they acquired companies such as Altavista and Inktomi. Fastforward Technologies specialized in multi streaming broadcast technologies and was originally acquired by Inktomi.