With little fanfare, Facebook recently purchased a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering a wide range of social networking activities. Based on documents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, VentureBeat reported recently that, earlier this summer, Facebook purchased 18 patents and patent applications from MOL Global, the parent of social networking pioneer Friendster. According to VentureBeat, Friendster never actively enforced these patents, but there is a possibility Facebook could take a more aggressive position. Of the 18 purchased items, eleven are pending patent applications, several of which appear to be quite broad, covering subject matter such as a “system and method for managing an online network” (U.S. Pat. App. No. 10854054) and a “system, method and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks” (U.S. Pat. No. 7069308). According to TheSocial, Facebook likely wants control of the patents to prevent imitation, and to give Facebook significant leverage in light of Google’s efforts to enter the social networking space. The patents were transferred on May 13 and, as GigaOm reports, at a purchase price of $40 million, the acquisition of Friendster’s patent portfolio is one of Facebook’s largest such acquisitions to date.