With the net running out of old-style IPv4 addresses, those that remain available have value - and Microsoft has agreed to buy a big block of them for $11.25 each.
It's paid $7.5 million for 666,624 IPv4 addresses held by the now-defunct Canadian network hardware vendor Nortel. Microsoft will be able to use around two-thirds of the addresses immediately, with the remainder being released when Nortel's bankruptcy proceedings are completed.
The deal prices an IP address at something approaching the cost of the average domain name - and they may be of only temporary value to Microsoft, with the industry expected to switch over to new IPv6 addresses over the coming months and years.
Last month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that the pool of available IPv4 address blocks had run dry.
The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) will now only allocate addresses if a customer can prove they have an immediate need, in the next three months.
ICANN and ARIN are likely to be unhappy about the sale, as private sales of this type were never part of the plan. Instead, organizations are expected to return unused addresses to the common pool. Court documents indicate that Nortel has been trying to sell the addresses since late last year, talking to 80 potential buyers.
if the deal goes ahead unchallenged, there could be more to follow: the other 79 companies are presumably still keen to snaffle up IPv4 addresses, and Nortel isn't the only company sitting on some unused.