By Aman Jain
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is not behind Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) when it comes to innovation. The social networking site acquired at least 100 patents from other companies on virtual reality, video, peer-to-peer printing and speech translation.
Facebook acquiring patents
According to a report from Envision IP, a New York-based research firm specializing in intellectual property, the social networking site has purchased various patents since January 2013. Maulin Shah, founder and managing director of Envision IP, said that these purchases might give an idea on the future product pipeline of Facebook including possibilities such as "digital printing services to interactive wearable devices."
Fujifilm sold the highest number of patents to Facebook totaling to 54. Patents of Fujifilm are usually in the area of image playback, image editing and presentation along with a point of sale terminal for printing images.
Patents from AT&T (NYSE:T) count to 22, which relates to personalized content delivery to analyze the relationship within the network. Apart from these two companies, Facebook also acquired 10 patents from Vega Vista related to head and motion tracking technologies and virtual displays. Inventor Neeraj Jhanji sold a total of six patents related to mobile check-in to Facebook.
According to Envision IP, Facebook's own engineering team also is actively getting patented for their own innovation. The data suggests that the company submitted a total of 69 patents in 2009, and in 2012, the number of submissions rose to 649.
Real intentions unknown
From the legal point of view, the company is playing safe by acquiring 100% rights in areas of interest. Facebook might have some over-the-top ideas in speech translation and in the facial recognition arena, or at least the patent acquisition indicates so, says a report from Forbes. For instance, Facebook shelled $2 billion to buy Oculus Rift, a start-up offering virtual reality games. There is a lot of speculation over the company's next big step, and purchase of patents fans this speculation even more.
Facebook is not only receiving competitive headwinds from the social networking sites, but also from some of the biggest tech giants such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). According to market watchers, the new feature in the upcoming iPhone 6 might pose some threat for Facebook. The mobile payment patent filed by Apple could be a reason to worry for Facebook as CEO Zuckerberg mentioned during the latest earnings call that mobile payments will become a more significant part of the platform in the coming days.