Google offers defensive support for startups against patent trolls

Google wants to help startups get through a troubling time in their life: fighting patent trolls.

It is a growing concern in Silicon Valley, as more companies are created for the sole purpose of being patent trolls. For startups that cannot afford to fork out for legal costs and patent protection, it becomes an insufferable expense, in part due to the poor protection from the government regarding patents and lawsuits.

Google will let startups earning between $500,000 and $10 million (£320,000 and $6.4 million) join the Patent Starter Program. This gives the startup access to all of Google’s owned patents, both created and bought. It is quite an impressive library.

There are a few strings attached to the deal. For two years, the startup has to be a member of the LOT Network. This network defends against patent abuse, by having all its members pump a good amount of patent protection into the network for other members to use defensively.

While in the LOT Network, the startup should add a few patents of their own. Once the two years is over, they will be able to drop out of the deal, although that does forfeit the right to use Google’s own patents.

Google is hoping that the startups will stay and contribute to the LOT Network. One of the major rules in the network is to not use patents aggressively, which the startup can be fined for doing and revoked access to the network.

Seems like a good deal for any startup worried about litigation issues from a patent troll or an overzealous company. Google had its fair share of battles during its first years, alongside a massive amount of court cases over the past five years against Apple, using the Rockstar Consortium patent troll company.