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. 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.
Today, the search and mobile giant is expanding that marketplace in the otherdirection: Google has started a program for startups to give away up to two non-organic patent families off Google, as well as potentially make offers to buy patents from it in the future. 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. Google doesn’t appear to be making money off of the program, but it does have an end goal: as a condition of the program, companies receiving Google’s patents will have to join a patent licensing network that’s meant to help Silicon Valley defend against patent trolls — companies that sue over patent infringement without actually making any products. From May 8th to May 22nd, 2015, the company started a streamlined portal for all the patent holders to tell the search engine giant regarding the patents they are planning to sell at the decided price.
Google stated 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.
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. Only 50 startups or developers will be accepted into the program, and they have to meet certain requirements, including having a 2014 revenue between $500,000 and $20 million. 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. If they’re accepted, Google will identify three to five patent families that align with the participant’s business, and the participant will be able to select two of them to keep.
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. 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. 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. To help the project gain traction, Google promises that even if startups don’t end up being awarded any patents after the application process, they will still be given partial access to the company’s database of patents. “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. 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.
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 moreprotection 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.
Earlier this year, it launched a complementary initiative that made it easy for companies to sell patents to Google, so that patent holders could make some money without putting patents in the hands of trolls. Google’s intention to widen its patent marketplace setup is unsurprising, considering the company has been an active and consistent critic of 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.
Only last week, the Internet giant rolled out some significant upgrades to its patent search options, by including search results from Google Scholar. 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. 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.