Google may have passed on the recent Nortel patent feeding frenzy, and allowed Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC to buy a huge patent package with more than 6000 individual patents for $4.5 billion in cash.
However, Google isn't standing still and recently purchased 1030 patents from IBM's virtually infinite patent portfolio. It is a significant step for Google and more than doubles the company's current patent holdings.
For Google, this purchase has less to do with actual technology licensing, but more of a move to protect itself from lawsuits. According to SEO by the Sea, the IBM package includes patents relating to the fabrication and architecture of memory and microprocessing chips, to other areas of computer architecture including servers and routers as well. There is a decent chunk of patents relating to search technology, and could also be used to improve the defenses for its core search business. For IBM, which has been known to be building a business out of patents, it is not a particularly large loss; the number of patents sold is below than what the company typically gets granted in a 3 month period.
There was no note of the purchase price, but the overall purchase may fuel speculation whether Google is interested in moving into new markets that it does not address at this time. Why would Google be interested in the fabrication of memory and microprocessors? Perhaps those patents just came with the deal, and may not relate to Google's intentions - especially since CEO Larry page recently said that Google is going to focus on its core strengths?