Google, Dropbox band together to fight patent trolls

A new group seeks to provide its members insulation against attacks by patent trolls

Google, Dropbox and a few other high-tech firms have come up with a new way to help defend themselves against patent trolls.

Patent trolls, or "non-practicing entities," are companies that buy up old patents and try to monetize them by accusing others of infringement. They usually request a one-off licensing fee to end a lawsuit, something many companies reluctantly pay because it's cheaper than defending the claim.

The practice has become a significant problem in the high-tech field, in part because of the complex nature of modern software and hardware.

In an attempt to stop it, six high-tech companies have banded together to launch the License on Transfer Network, or LOT Network.

Members of Lotnet retain full ownership and licensing rights of their patents, but they agree to provide each other with a royalty-free license should any of the patents ever be sold.

That means if Dropbox, for instance, sells a patent on data storage to a third party, Google and the other members will first receive a license to the technology. That should insulate them from any lawsuits brought by the patent's new owner.

Besides Google and Dropbox, the launch members include SAP, Canon, Asana and Newegg. They hope the agreement will reduce the nuisance of patent trolling.

"The LOT Network is a sort of arms control for the patent world," said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google, in a statement. "By working together, we can cut down on patent litigation, allowing us to focus instead on building great products."

The group is offering membership to other technology companies.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags dropboxGoogleintellectual propertyCanonSAPpatentCivil lawsuitslegalAsanaNewegg

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?