Category Archives: Acquisitions

Acquisitions, mergers, and strategic investments have the potential to transform the technologies that power the Web.

Yahoo Assigns 2648 Patents to Mystery Excalibur IP, LLC Group

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.

A couple of weeks ago, an article on Yahoo’s patent portfolio ran, and provided some insights into what value those patents might hold. The article, Yahoo Has a Strong Patent Portfolio, But Reported Valuation is Too High gives us some ideas regarding how much the Search Engine’s patents might be worth (4 Billion?), and what they’ve been doing with them. Has Yahoo sold a good amount of those patents not much less than a week after that article? We don’t know for certain. It’s possible that they may have to one of the remaining bidders for the company: Exclusive: Yahoo’s bidder shortlist points to cash deal -sources.

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.

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Lycos to Sell Off Patents?

I read today the news that early Search Engine Lycos is selling off their patents, presumably to enable them to launch other services. This was stated in the betaboston article Internet search pioneer Lycos puts patents up for sale.

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:

1) 9,015,176 Automatic identification of related search keywords

Abstract
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Google Acquires 55 Yahoo! Patent Filings

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.

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Did Google acquire Game Maker and Distributor CiiNow?

CiiNow Logo - cloud gaming defined

Google was officially assigned the pending patent applications from CiiNow last Wednesday (August 27, 2014) in a transaction that was reported as being executed at the end of July.

USPTO Assignment of patents from CiiNow to Google

From searching through the USPTO, I don’t see any other patents assigned to CiiNow, so that appears to have been all they owned. The USPTO assignments don’t include financial details, so that information is unavailable.

The Ciinow.com website appears to be completely unresponsive to visits. The LinkedIn profile of CiiNow Co-Founder and VP of Engineering Devendra (Deven) Raut left CiiNow in 2014 and joined Google as a Tech Biz Dev. It looks to me that Google acquired CiiNow, Inc.

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Google Acquires Patent on Speeding up SSL on Networks

On August 6th, Google announced that https was becoming a ranking signal for Google Search.

I’m not completely sure of the implications of a discovery I made earlier today yet, but I noticed at the USPTO assignment database that Google had been assigned a patent from AT&T in June, which was officially recorded on August 8th, 2014.

USPTO Database showing Assignment of AT&T patent to Google

The patent is:

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Google’s Skybox Eye-in-the-Sky Acquisition

As part of the regular business analysis that I do on an ongoing basis, I like to keep an eye out for acquisitions made by search engines, and look at the technology that those companies being acquired have filed patents for.

When I heard about Google’s acquisition of Skybox, I jumped to the assumption that low-level orbiting satellites might be used in a manner similar to Google’s Project Loon to spread internet access to a wider audience across the globe. Or they might be used to make Google Maps a lot better with high resolution and frequently updated satellite images.

And then I looked at the patent filings assigned to Skybox Imaging, and quashed those assumptions, or put them off as secondary reasons why Google might have purchased the satellite company.

How much of an impact might high resolution and very frequently updated satellite images have upon a business analysis?

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Twitter’s New Patent Trove (943 Patents) from IBM

The Twitter Logo over the IBM Logo.

In November, Twitter disclosed in an amendment to its S1 filing that IBM was demanding licenses for three patents issued in 2006 that it claimed that Twitter was infringing upon. As far as we know, IBM didn’t file a lawsuit against Twitter, and this took place shortly before Twitter held its initial public offering.

This dispute appears to have been resolved, but we don’t know all of the details, and it’s questionable if we will ever learn about them. Here’s what the amendment said about the matter:

From time to time we receive claims from third parties which allege that we have infringed upon their intellectual property rights. In this regard, we recently received a letter from International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM, alleging that we infringe on at least three U.S. patents held by IBM, and inviting us to negotiate a business resolution of the allegations.

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With Wavii, Did Google Acquire the Future of Web Search?

Google acquired the company Wavii for a little more than $ 30 Million in April. There was some speculation that Wavii was an effort to match Yahoo’s purchase of Summly, which summarizes news from the Web.

Part of the announcement on the wavii domain about the acquisition by Google.

A Wavii app did do just that – acquired and summarized news from the Web. When Wavii emerged from stealth mode, it was touted as a personalized news aggregator based upon topics rather than keywords. The app closed down with Google’s acquisition of the company, and instead of providing news aggregation services, it appears that the technology will help fuel Google Now, Google’s Knowledge Base, and Google Glass, according to the TechCrunch article linked above.

So what is that technology?

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