IBM joins LOT Network to thwart patent trolls

IBM is adding more than 80,000 patents and patent applications to the LOT Network, a nonprofit business group that protects its members from patent trolling
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

IBM on Tuesday announced it's joining the LOT Network, a nonprofit group of companies that aims to thwart patent trolls. The move is a commitment to open innovation from IBM, which received a record 9,262 US patents in 2019 alone. 

The LOT Network was founded in 2014, with Red Hat (which IBM acquired in 2019) as a founding member. The organization aims to protect its members from patent assertion entities (PAEs) -- entities that genereate more than half of their annual revenue from patent litigation. 

With a membership of more than 600 companies of all sizes, the LOT Network includes more than 2 million patent assets. If any of them fall into the hands of a PAE, LOT Network members automatically receive a license to that patent. Consequently, the PAE won't be able to sue LOT members for alleged infringement of that patent.

Since 1920, IBM has collected more than 140,000 US patents. It's adding more than 80,000 patents and patent applications to the LOT Network.  

"IBM has a strong track record of patenting innovation, and a sophisticated IP business," LOT Network CEO Ken Seddon said in a statement. "By joining LOT network, they are providing a way for companies to mitigate risk from PAEs, in direct alignment with the mission of LOT, strengthening our collective ability to mitigate patent abuse."

According to the LOT Network, companies lose $80 billion each year on patent troll litigation. Companies on average spend more than $3.3 million to fight just one PAE-generated software company lawsuit. 

IBM also recently announced it has joined Unified Patents to help deter patent trolls. Along with the Open Invention Network (OIN), the Linux Foundation and Microsoft, IBM helped found Unified's new Open Source Zone to protect open source companies from patent trolls. 

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