Tech Companies Unite to Combat Patent Trolls

Tech Companies Unite to Combat Patent Trolls Illustration by David Saracino

With patent reform at a standstill in the U.S. government, technology companies have banded together to fight intellectual property abuses by trolls.

As Liz Gannes explains on re/code, Google Inc., Canon Inc., SAP AG, Newegg.com Inc., Dropbox and Asana have nearly 300,000 patent assets on the line. Instead of licensing all of each others’ patents, they joined the License on Transfer (LOT) Network, promising to grant licenses to one another whenever one of their patents is sold. Gannes says the goal is to “defang patents” before they get into the hands of trolls.

Google legal director Eric Schulman led the initiative. Gannes says Schulman is especially concerned over research showing that more than 60 percent of patent litigation in 2012 was initiated by trolls, up from 20 percent in 2006.

Gannes says the defendants in many of these cases are often the very companies that paid for the research and development that gets patented in the first place.

Although companies have joined together on patents before, she says LOT is different because it’s portfoliowide and only applies to patents that are transferred. As a result, participating companies can still use their patents against each other while they own them.

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