AOL Surprise Sale Shows the Value of Mapping Technology

AOL recently announced the sale of over 800 patents and patent applications to Microsoft, and a non-exclusive license covering the rest of its retained patent portfolio. The sale price is $1.056 billion in cash.

The sale includes the stock of an AOL subsidiary, which allows AOL to offset the patent sales against a loss involving the subsidiary. Presumably, the subsidiary involves Mapquest, which AOL purchased in 1999 for $1.1 billion. According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Mapquest has well over 200 patents.

Mapquest supports OpenStreetMap, a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Google Maps is the leading competitor in providing internet-based maps. The ability to connect corporate searches with maps is quite valuable, and no doubt drove the high price.

We provide additional explanation and background to this sale in this article.


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