AOL sells majority of patent portfolio to Microsoft in billion-dollar deal

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Struggling former web giant AOL is selling off over three-quarters of its patent portfolio. The company has just announced that it sold 800 of its roughly 1,100 patents to Microsoft for $1.056 billion, money that AOL will return to its shareholders. As part of the deal, Microsoft will also get a non-exclusive license to the remaining 300 patents, and AOL will retain a license to its former intellectual property.

AOL is obviously hoping to make its stock more attractive with this sale, but this also looks like another move away from being a web infrastructure company. In the past several weeks, AOL has laid off a number of employees, including virtually the entire AIM division, and is focusing more strongly on its media presence. AOL says it will continue to hold patents spanning "advertising, search, content generation / management, social networking, mapping, multimedia/streaming, and security," but that this deal "unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders" and will give the company more room to transition away from the web of yesteryear.

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