AOL shareholders must be beside themselves after the company offloaded over 800 patents to Microsoft in a deal worth about $1 billion. The price on their stock skyrocketed 37 percent on Monday morning after the deal was announced and CEO Tim Armstrong sounded cheerful about the "the culmination of a robust auction process" in a press release. Some Silicon Valley types weary of all this patent warfare, however, did not.
"I get that AOL has shareholder pressure for selling patents. still very deeply disappointing -- especially to Microsoft," TechCrunch editor Eric Eldon tweeted a few minutes after the press release hit the wires. "It's all just gross." What's so gross? Well, blue chip tech companies' unquenchable thirst for fake blood in legal battles over intellectual property. The types of patents that AOL is selling aren't the same kind of patents that, say, Ford Motor Company might own for a piece of machinery. They're for innovations in software design and tend to be pretty subjective when it comes to interpreting the definition of infringement. In AOL's case, the patents are likely related to instant messaging and email, says AllThingsD's Peter Kafka, and the company also threw in some stock to an unnamed subsidiary.