SAP, Google, Dropbox, others band together to fight patent trolls

Summary:When a patent is put up for sale, members of the LOT Network are still protected from whatever "troll to which the patent was sold."

A fellowship consisting of budding enterprise software startups to some of Silicon Valley's greatest giants are banding together to fight trolls.

Patent trolls, that is.

Self-dubbed as the LOT (License on Transfer) Network, the slowly-but-surely growing consortium aims to reduce the risk of and litigation itself related to "patent privateering."

Some of the members of the LOT Network ( namely Google ) as well as the White House , among others, have previously railed against the financial and creative dangers presented by the practice that has become commonly referred to as patent trolling.

According to the LOT Network's announcement on Wednesday, there were more than 6,000 lawsuits filed in the United States last year by "non-practicing entities," which the group further referred to as patent trolls. The LOT Network added over 70 percent of the patents used by trolls come from operating companies.

LOT Network is a forward-looking community that promotes innovation by reducing the risk of litigation from Patent Assertion Entities. There are already almost 300,000 patent assets, including more than 50,000 issued US patents in the LOT Network.

To combat this trend, the LOT Network is basically taking a more open source approach with a royalty-free cross-license agreement by pooling patents together. Companies that join the Network will receive a license to protect them when patents are transferred out of the LOT Network, meaning that the patents' original owners retain rights to enforce whatever they own.

But when a patent is put up for sale, members of the LOT Network are still protected by those licenses from whatever "troll to which the patent was sold."

There are further protection for other change of ownership as well as merger and acquisition activities

So far, the LOT Network stands at six members: SAP, Newegg, Google, Dropbox, Canon, and Asana, which joined most recently in June.

Together, there are nearly 300,000 patent assets protected under the LOT agreement.

Interested businesses can apply online to join the LOT Network. Annual membership fees range from $1,500 to $20,000 based on the prospective company's annual revenue.

Topics: Patents, Enterprise 2.0, Google, Legal, Tech Industry

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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