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

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, Google, Legal, Enterprise 2.0, Tech Industry

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  • Not an adequate solution

    The real solution is to reduce the scope of patents and drastically raise the standards for granting them; protective compacts like this one are merely a short term band-aid. Of course, incumbent vendors are loath to lobby for what's really needed because it would make it harder for them to patents as well.
    John L. Ries
  • My solution

    My solution is "use it or lose it." The patent must be used in a current product that is profitable or has a clear business plan to become profitable. That eliminates troll companies created just to sue over patents. I would apply the same rules to government incentives so troll companies like Tesla designed completely to suck up incentive money don't get created. If you don't have a profitable business model without handouts, you can't support the company with handouts.
    Buster Friendly
    • Tesla is not troll

      AFAIK Tesla return all the borrowed money ahead of time and that clearly shows they profitability. This cannot be said about some US car manufacturers...
      Tomas M.
  • Tesla hardly a troll

    To call a company that recently released its patents into the public domain a patent troll is just plain stupid. @Buster Friendly apparently does not educate himself very well, which is unfortunate for someone who wants to have an opinion about anything.