Pure Storage VP: 'Something had to be done' about patent trolls

The LOT Network offers members protection against frivolous lawsuits

Companies lose billions each year defending themselves against patent trolls, and the problem is only getting worse. Pure Storage is one of a growing number of organizations that are working to do something about it.

"These litigations drain a lot of money out of the innovation economy," said Joe FitzGerald, vice president and general counsel for the vendor of enterprise flash storage. "When you're spending on litigation, you're not spending on innovation," FitzGerald said in a recent interview.

Aiming to combat the problem, Pure and dozens of other companies have joined together through the LOT Network.

Patent trolls, known more formally as patent assertion entities, are companies that acquire patents for the sole purpose of filing lawsuits against other companies. A whopping 84 percent of all high-tech patent lawsuits filed each year are the work of patent trolls, according to the LOT Network.

More than 10,000 companies have been the victim at least once, with an average cost of $3.2 million. Many of them can little afford it: Roughly half the victim companies earn less than $10 million in annual revenue.

When FitzGerald joined Pure Storage from Symantec back in 2013, he was struck by the scope of the problem. The U.S. patent system dates back to "the days of horse and buggy," he said. "It was clear something had to be done."

Plenty of efforts are currently under way to modernize the system on a government level, but LOT members aren't holding their breath. Instead, they've signed an agreement that offers some immunity against lawsuits filed by patent trolls.

Whenever a member of the nonprofit network sells a patent to a patent troll, all other members are given automatic protection from litigation for the life of that patent.

Any company, university or inventor can join the LOT Network, whether or not they own any patents. Members also pay a yearly fee based on their company's annual revenue, with no cost for startups with annual revenue of less than $5 million.

LOT members can still use their patents as they choose -- the network is by no means anti-patent, FitzGerald stressed.

"At my company, we believe in strong IP protection -- we now have over 500 patents or patent applications," he said. "But we wanted to find a way to address the systemic issues."

LOT was originally formed back in 2014, and Pure Storage was involved early. Today, the network offers protection on almost 600,000 patents. Google, Uber, Ford, Dropbox, CBS, Netflix, Red Hat and SAP are also members.

"We're at the point now where it's starting to have an impact," FitzGerald said. "This should be a no-brainer for any company that's optimizing for innovation and growth."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?