Google Finds Interesting Way to Combat Patent Trolls

IP News and Information

Who is in for some free patents? No, IPTrader is not giving away any patents, but a well known tech giant is doing exactly that. That’s right, Google, the search engine giant, among other things is offering 100 patents for no charge to the first 50 startup companies that are willing to join its recently created License on Transfer Network (LOT). Each of those companies will get to choose two patents from among 3-5 patents total, selected by Google. So how does it all work?

Google Looking to Add to its Stable

The first 50 companies to jump on board the LOT program will have access to Google’s non-organic patent portal, which is made up of patents that have come from other sources. In addition to receiving two free patents, these companies will get a free two-year membership into the LOT program. This program is designed to protect its members from patent litigation. How does it do this, you ask? Whenever a patent leaves the LOT network Google gives is it a royalty-free license. Now the company is looking to expand its membership network and it wants startups involved.

Will the plan Help Startups

So what’s really in it for these start-up companies? They do get a two-year membership into the LOT program for free, which could be very valuable, but these companies will not be allowed to invoke any licensing rights against someone that uses the patents. They will only be allowed to use the patents for defensive reasons. If they break this agreement they will have to return the patents to Google. The startups will get one other nice benefit from the plan: that is free access to Google’s Innography program, which is a software tool designed to help analyze patent portfolios.

What’s the Motivation?

So what is Google’s motivation for giving away 100 patents for free? What’s in it for them? There are several reasons, one of which, according to some in the industry is to help curb patent trolls. However, others disagree, arguing that giving away these patents will not stop patent trolls. So what other possible reason could Google have for making this offer, known as the “Google Patent Starter Program?” Some feel that perhaps the real motivation behind the giveaway is because Google wants to reshape the economy of tech patents altogether.

Not the First Sign

There is other evidence to believe that this is the case. Early this year Google opened up a patent portal to anyone who wanted to sell their patent to the company. The company did purchase several assets, but would not give specifics. What is Google planning to do with all that IP? According to a company spokesperson they do not plan to monetize it through licensing. However, the process almost assuredly gave the company a better read into the overall patent market and how much patents are really worth. In fact, that same spokesperson said the purpose of the purchase program was exactly that: to create a more realistic way to determine the true value of patents in the secondary market.

More to Gain

Google has other possible advantages to gain through this offer as well, including adding 50 potentially important startup companies to its patent non-aggression pact. If the startups fail, their IP will no be as attractive to potential patent trolls and if they succeed, then Google will have created hundreds of executives that will have become part of the company’s non-aggressive patent culture. It remains to be seen how it all plays out, but one can’t help but wonder if Google is starting the process now that will reshape the entire tech patent industry in the future.