Google gives start-ups free patents

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Offers To Give Away Patents To Startups In Its Push Against Patent Trolls.

Google said today it will give start-ups two patents for free, which they can keep, as long as they join the LOT network, a cross-company effort including firms like Dropbox, SAP and Canon, to fight patent trolls. Google today has started a program for startups to gain two non-organic patent families off Google buy more patents from it at some point down the line.It’s the big name companies that we typically hear about being targeted by patent assertion entities but the truth of the matter is, patent trolls don’t discriminate.Google has long been vocal about its distaste for patent trolls — companies who snap up patents and then sue others for infringement — and now it’s putting its patents where its mouth is.

As first reported by TechCrunch Google has opened the program only to the first 50 eligible start-ups, while eligibility requirements include that a company’s 2014 revenue has to be between $US500,000 and $US20 million. It’s planning to give some small companies a pair of starter patents to help them out when it comes to getting off the ground and defending their intellectual property. The move for a Google patents marketplace comes following the company’s move to open a private pop-up marketplace last April for the very limited market of just Google, but is now accepting applicants for patents from outside its ecosphere. Google will send a shortlist of three to five families of patents for the startups to choose from, and they have to only be used defensively to protect against a lawsuit. The company revealed its offer to start-ups with a series of terms and conditions online, with the added incentive that only 50 will be able to receive access to their patents.

Google said under its LOT program every company that participates grants a license to the other participants where the license becomes effective only when patents are transferred to non-participants. “At Google, we not only remember our roots, but we respect the start-up culture: the great ideas, the passion and the long hours that develop them, and the resulting innovation and The news follows a similar anti-patent troll push from Google in April, when it opened an experimental patent marketplace. He quite literally can’t get them out of his head: In this world, most people have a digital device implanted in their brains that allows them to record and instantly replay every single memory they ever make, essentially canceling out the human ability to forget. Google says that encouraging smaller companies to get on board with the program “is just something that we think makes great sense.” Google is calling this scheme, which appears to have been first spotted by TechCrunch, the Patent Starter Program. The tool will help “simplify, inform and automate” the process of advertisers wanting to target people following major global events, which was previously done largely manually through hashtags and the like. “Whether it’s a presidential election, Coachella, Mother’s Day or the Super Bowl, if it’s happening in the world, it’s happening on Twitter,” senior product manager Dinkar Jain says in a blog post. Liam’s escalating torment makes up the whole 45 minutes of “The Entire History of You,” one of the most memorable episodes of Channel 4’s dystopian tech drama Black Mirror.

A patent troll is a person or company that attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringers, when they either do not manufacture a product or supply a service related to that patent. The term generally refers to people or companies who are purely in the business of litigation, or threatening litigation, as opposed to making or selling something. Participating companies will also be required to join the License On Transfer (LOT) Network, a royalty-free patent cross licensing group created last year whose participants include Canon, Dropbox, Newegg, SAP and of course, Google. However, those who aren’t able to access the Google patents programme can still potentially gain access to a partial database of its patents and can then make enquiries of purchasing one of these patents.

Club noted that the most frightening thing about the episode is that it “centers around a piece of equipment that is horrifyingly easy to imagine catching on.” Well, here we are. LOT — which features many high-profile members like Google, Dropbox, the Wikimedia Foundation and Ford — is a network designed to push back against patent trolls. But Kurt Brasch, senior patent licensing manager at Google, tells us that those non-organic patents could still be very central to Google’s business. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Google a patent this week for a digital camera that records live experiences and organizes them into a searchable database for later playback.

That in itself can potentially be valuable. “Participants will have access to part of Google’s portfolio and may inquire of us regarding the potential purchase of any such assets,” the company notes. Google maintains a portal accessible to participants in the program that allows users to search Google’s nonorganic patent portfolio for assets that Google may be willing to sell.

At the end of April this year, Google announced an initiative to make it easier to sell patents to it, and therefore keep the intellectual property rights away from trolls. Of course, Google’s hypothetical memory-storing product isn’t actually the intrusive, literally-embedded-in-your-brain technology with which Black Mirror is concerned.

Google’s hope, apparently, is that they won’t. “The bigger the network gets, the more protection the membership gets against future attacks from patent trolls,” it writes. And while it’s important to remember that patents don’t always indicate exactly what a company is realistically working on, this kind of technology is right up Google’s alley: It’s famous for its quirky experiments with über-futuristic technologies that aim to make people’s lives both easier and cooler.

There are some 325,000 patent assets in the LOT database already, and the idea here is for Google to help the group get stronger, as a way of warding off patent trolls. While membership usually costs between $1,500 and $20,000 per year (depending on company size), LOT is waiving the fees for two years for startups joining through this program. Google’s moves to transfer and sell off patents comes on the heels of its earlier effort in April to buy patents from third parties, also in a limited offer. Talking for the first time about how that went, Brasch said that Google “considered the experiment quite a success.” “What that told us was that there is definitely a problem in the secondary market and people in the industry feel it,” he said. “People are looking for a different solution and there are ways for us to do that that could help both buyers and sellers.” He said that Google paid prices between $3,000 and $250,000 for patents in the period, buying about 28 percent of the total offered, focusing on “patents that were clearly of interest and relevance” to Google. Those have directly gone into Google’s wider patent portfolio, becoming a part of the non-organic set that is now being offered in parts to interested startups.

First, it underscores Google’s bigger push in getting more tech companies to collectively act together to fight some of the negative aspects of intellectual property ownership, specifically around lawsuits that are less about safeguarding IP and more about making money. Google has been an outspoken and consistent critic of patent trolls, even if it has not been shy in building out its own patent assets and defending them in court.

Just last week Google made a significant upgrade to its patent search features, by incorporating search results from Google Scholar and its prior art database. And although the patent marketplace has been launched on a very limited basis so far, it seems like a good way of testing out features that could potentially be made more permanent in the long run. No one really wants to know the answer to questions like “Where were my friends last night,” lest it lead them down exactly the sort of psychological rabbit hole that dystopian science fiction so urgently warns us to avoid. Indeed, that’s something that Brasch highlighted, too. “I would expect something else coming out in the future, whether from Google or a broader group of organizations,” he said.

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