Google has recently announced that it will be giving away patents to 50 start-ups. The initiative was named the Patent Starter Program and it represents the company’s most recent effort in its fight against patent trolls.
Patent trolls are companies that only use their patents as an excuse to sue mostly smaller to medium business that have similar products. Most of the times, patent asserting companies (as they are otherwise known) have no intention of actually going to court and hope they will scare the other business into paying unreasonable licensing fees.
Patent trolls do target larger companies, with Apple having reportedly claimed that it has been sued more than 100 times over patents in the last four years. But these giants often have the resources to deal with such problems swiftly.
But for many start-ups, an attorney’s fees for resolving such a case can be quite discouraging. But with this new program, Google wants to offer smaller companies the experience necessary of handling patents in the current world.
The start-ups are each going to be given two patent families based on their preferences and areas of expertise. They will then be offered guidance on how to work with patents in general so that they can better protect themselves from patent trolls.
This initiative is a follow-up to the LOT Network, a program through which various members of the tech industry, such as Dropbox or Redhat, cooperate in order to fight bad faith patent litigations. Jointly, the program holds over 325.000 patents, which special licenses being issued whenever of them is pulled out of the system.
The above mentioned start-ups will also have to join this program to have access to the patents, but they will not be required to pay any membership fees for 2 years. In order to take part in the Patent Starter, a company would need to have a minimum of early earnings of $500,000.
The purpose of this program is defensive action. The companies will be offered aid in protecting the newly acquired patents, but it will be up to them to go to court if a patent troll sues. But Google has set strict rules that will not allow the start-ups to actually issue their own suits based on these patents.
It is likely that more will be joining the initial 50 in the Patent Starter Program, with Google aiming to continue the fight. The patent litigation effect is more prevalent in the U.S., since in many other parts of the world those who lose a trial have to pay the attorney fees for both sides. And patent trolls are unlikely to often win in court.
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