Tech Companies Launch New Coalition To Keep Operating Company Patents From Ending Up Abused By Trolls

from the good-for-them dept

Tech companies, even those that dislike the patent system (which is many of them), still feel pressured into getting lots of patents, often for defensive purposes, to avoid lawsuits. However, as we've discussed in the past, even patents that are initially obtained for defensive purposes are a nuclear weapon problem in waiting. Companies fail all the time, and their patents suddenly get sold off to the highest bidder -- and quite frequently these days, those are trolls. Some companies have tried to come up with unique and innovative ways to stop this potential trolling problem. For example, a few years ago, Twitter came up with the Innovator's Patent Agreement (IPA) which basically lets the engineers named on a patent issue a free license to whomever they want for the life of the patent. This is sort of an anti-troll talisman, because that engineer can simply go and give a free license to anyone a troll threatens.

While other companies haven't jumped on the IPA bandwagon, it appears a bunch of tech companies are trying something different. Google, Newegg, Dropbox, SAP, Asana and Canon have teamed up to launch the "License on Transfer Network," which is a royalty-free patent cross-licensing program, for any patent that is transferred outside of the group. The basic deal is pretty straightforward: if any company in the group transfers a patent outside the group, for any reason, everyone else in the group automatically gets a royalty-free license to that patent. Obviously, this kind of program really only works if lots of companies join, but they've made it incredibly easy to join. And, as Asana notes in its blog post about the program, there are tremendous network effects as more companies join:
The LOT Network is a powerful new idea that we hope will grow rapidly. Because of the inherent network effects, every additional company that joins the coalition will be a new nail in the patent troll coffin, diminishing the size of their potential market. As this happens, everyone will be able to direct more of their energy back to creating value.
Asana and Dropbox, which also put out a blog post about this both note that this only solves one aspect of the patent trolling problem, but it's still nice to see companies coming up with innovative solutions to try to pre-empt certain types of patent trolling problems.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 9:09pm

    Patents spur innovation in mysterious ways.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 10:10pm

    Re:

    However is that innovation in /useful/ ways (IE science or useful arts (crafts/tradeswork))

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 10:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Avoiding the state is useful innovation

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 10:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Avoiding the state is useful innovation

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 10th, 2014 @ 12:16am

    "they've made it incredibly easy to join"

    That would be my concern with this kind of scheme. Sure, it sounds great, but if you're making it any way difficult or expensive for smaller players to join, all you've done is switched one imbalanced, unfair cartel system and replaced it with another. Hopefully it succeeds in its aims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2014 @ 2:39am

    Did they get a patent on this innovative solution?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 10th, 2014 @ 5:08am

    Re:

    I'd hope the patent system is reformed so companies didn't have to solve problems the Government created.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2014 @ 5:22am

    Great, Now if they can all get together to make our data more secure , or give us a cut of the money they collect from selling it .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 10th, 2014 @ 6:31am

    Re:

    They should at least write down the steps before someone else gets one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Jul 10th, 2014 @ 8:16am

    Ruined...

    You've ruined my favorite acronym. IPA

    Guess I'll go cry into my beer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    gab4moi (profile), Jul 10th, 2014 @ 8:26am

    Sooooo...

    Any chance of Apple and Samsung joining up and making several thousand lawyers homeless?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Chris Brand, Jul 10th, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    Easy to join

    What prevents the Troll companies from joining ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 10th, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Easy to join

    Not a thing, but if they do so, it would only further help reduce the amount of trolling possible. I think we should encourage trolls to join!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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