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theEweekly Wrap: Patents, PayPal and pretenders

Patent spendingGoogle has acquired more IBM patents in a continuing purchasing drive. Around 200 patents have been bought by the search giant, in addition to the 2,000 it has reportedly acquired from IBM over the past few months. The spending spree will allow Google to use the patented ideas to develop new innovations (the traditional use of patents), but could also relate to existing Google technologies. This would help the company withstand the current barrage of copyright infringement accusations blighting the smartphone and tablet market.

One particularly interesting patent that has changed hands involves "Using semantic networks to develop a social network"; it remains to be seen what this is, and what it means for Google's social network Google+.

Google's patent grab made tech headlines in August 2011, when the company failed to buy a cache of old Novell and Nortel patents and accused Apple and Microsoft of joining forces to outbid Google. However, less than a fortnight later it acquired Motorola Mobility, along with several thousand Motorola patents.


Yahoo's new PalYahoo confirmed on Wednesday that it had appointed a new CEO - Scott Thompson, former president at PayPal. Prior to his presidency, he was PayPal's senior vice-president and chief technology officer, so was instrumental in the company's rapid growth. Yahoo has been without a chief executive since Carol Bartz was fired over the phone in September, after failing to turn around the ailing company's fortunes.

Chairman of the Yahoo board Roy Bostock commented: "Scott brings to Yahoo a proven record of building on a solid foundation of existing assets and resources to reignite innovation and drive growth, precisely the formula we need at Yahoo. The search committee and the entire board concluded that he is the right leader to grow the core business and deliver increased value for our shareholders." The company is clearly hoping Thompson can bring his golden touch to Yahoo; its 2011 UK search engine market share dropped to just 2.44 per cent.


Wendi woesTwitter has unverified a spoof account that claimed to be that of Wendi Deng Murdoch. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch started an account on 31 December 2011, so when someone claiming to be his wife Wendi began tweeting the next day, it seemed plausible. The @wendi_deng account was verified on Monday night, while a News International spokesperson reportedly told the BBC that the account was genuine.

The account was officially verified with a blue tick for over 24 hours. After it was unverified, the account admitted: "Hello Twitter. As News International has finally come to their senses, it's time to confirm that yes, this is a fake account. I'm not Wendi." Verification was launched over two years ago to help celebrities who use the service create official accounts; however, the mistake suggests a rather lax process, while the account owner has claimed that Twitter never made contact with them before or after the blue tick appeared. The anonymous individual - who has said only that they are not a comedy writer, not a journalist and not Jonnie Marbles of the pie-throwing incident - still has over 8,000 followers. The real Rupert Murdoch has not commented on the incident.

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