AOL’s shares surged to their highest level in more than a year following the announcement. The company agreed to sell 800 of its patents and license others to Microsoft for about $1.06 billion in cash. The New York-based website developer and Internet access company said it plans to return some of the sale proceeds to its shareholders. AOL’s move signals that it is listening to stockholders who are asking for more return on their investment. In February, one of AOL’s largest shareholders, an investment firm, said it would nominate candidates for the company’s board because it was not doing enough to make money from its patents. AOL said at the time that it had begun to look at ways to unlock patent value.
After the sale, AOL said it will still hold more than 300 patents and applications covering a variety of technologies, including advertising, search, content generation, social networking, mapping, multimedia, and security among others. As part of the deal, AOL also received a license to use the patents it sold to Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. “The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value,’’ Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
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