SOFTWARE COMPANIES have formed a group to fight the scourge of patent trolling.
The Licence On Transfer Network (LOTNET) includes founding members Google, Dropbox, SAP, Asana, Canon and New Egg.
Under the agreement, members, while remaining in control of their patents, agree to offer a royalty-free licence to fellow members in the event that a patent is sold.
This means that, for example, if Google sells a subsidiary, the partners would receive lifetime licenses to its patents before the sale, which would transfer to the new owners, meaning that they could not take legal action.
The invitation to join extends to any technology company with a mind to join and it is hoped that LOTNET will become a standard that will reduce the number of nuisance lawsuits in the industry.
"We believe that patents should never be used to stifle innovation," said Brett Alten, intellectual property counsel at Dropbox. "The LOT network is a creative solution to fight patent abuse that becomes more effective with each company that joins. The more participants there are, the better off we'll all be."
Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google added, "The LOT Network is a sort of arms control for the patent world. By working together, we can cut down on patent litigation, allowing us to focus instead on building great products."
The primary aim of LOTNET is to combat companies that exist primarily to buy and exploit patents, becoming profitable through repeated lawsuits.
During its takeover by Microsoft, Nokia was warned by EU officials not to "behave like a patent troll" should regulators approve the deal. µ