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Google to join forces with Dropbox, Canon, others to fight patent trolls

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

According to a new report out of Re/code, Google will be joining forces with a variety of other tech companies to fight patent trolls. The Mountain View company will join Canon, SAP, Newegg, Dropbox, and Asana to ward off the trolls. Between the six of them, the companies hold more than 300,000 patent assets. The companies aren’t licensing their patents to one another, but rather joining the License on Transfer network. With this network, the companies promise to grant licenses to one another whenever one of their patents is sold, preventing it from being used against them by a troll.

The point of joining LOT is to render patents useless before they get into the hands of the trolls. Doing so could obviously avoid many lawsuits and extortion attempts for the companies. Google’s legal director Eric Shulman led the initiative, claiming that more than 60 percent of patent litigation in 2012 was started by trolls. Of the patents used by trolls, more than 70 percent were generated by companies still in operation. LOT only applies to patents that are transferred, so the companies in the program could still use their patents against each other.

The appeal of LOT, said Dropbox IP counsel Brett Alten, is that “it’s an inclusive model that doesn’t strongly favor large or small companies. Large companies are most likely to sell or transfer assets out of the network. Small companies will be basically inoculated from that kind of threat. And large companies benefit because when small companies fail they often sell patents to trolls.”

Asana is the smallest company joining LOT, but co-founder Dustin Moskovitz (of Facebook fame) said that it was important to the start-up’s employees that it did something with good intentions.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller


Chance currently writes for both 9to5Google and 9to5Mac, in addition to 9to5Toys.