Microsoft buys Netscape (sort of)

Microsoft has (kind of) acquired Netscape, buying many of its key patents and assets from erstwhile owner AOL. Early Netscape employee JWZ calls it "brand necrophilia" and adds, "I assume that this means that ValueClick will now be suing Microsoft over the cookie patent instead of AOL, if that's still going on. There are no winners here." AOL says the sale was made at a loss, for the tax-break.

Microsoft will acquire all the patents surrounding the Netscape browser, while AOL will still own the actual brand. That extends to the Netscape business, which was once an ISP, as well as the URL for the brand.

Netscape was one of the factors behind Microsoft’s entry into the wide world of the internet, prompting them to license Mosaic source code and turn it into Internet Explorer. Fitting, then, that everything has come full circle, and Microsoft has purchased patents behind IE’s raison d’être.

Microsoft quietly buys Netscape browser technology - SlashGear

(Image: My Old Navigator, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from oimax's photostream)


    1. Good to see that Microsoft still has that fantastic, anti-competitive, anti-consumer monopolistic streak that’s done wonders for American competition and innovation already…


    1.  I wondered that too. Been using Firefox with Ubuntu for a while now. Anyone out there knows how Chrome fro Linux is?

      I really do see this as an attempt by MS to push out Firefox.

  1. Doesn’t this mean AOL is engaged in tax fraud? How does this result in lower taxes (or a bigger refund) for them?

    In order to report a loss to the IRS, they must have to value the patents at more than $1.1B.  But patents are not a commodity.. their value is equal to the amount you can sell them for. There is no other measure of their value. (We don’t need to complicate this with the value of the products AOL can build with those patents, because AOL received licensing rights, so they can still make those products.)

    Therefore, the patents are worth $1.1B because that’s how much AOL received for them. Therefore, they can’t book a loss.

    Not a CPA or economist, but isn’t this how it works? How can they claim it’s for tax reasons?

    1.  If I am not mistaken, the value of a patent can in fact be valued not merely by the price if can be sold for, but how much can be made by licensing it to other companies.

      1.  or, can they claim the loss on the sale based on how much they *paid* for the patent(s)? if it’s an exclusive one time sale and they can’t continue licensing the IP, then they’d be claiming the loss of whatever they originally paid, if higher, than the sale.

  2. If you can’t beat ’em with free enterprise competition… borg ’em.  It’s the Microsoft way…

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