Google might buy your patents to counter trolls

The idea is to attract sellers who might sell their intellectual property to patent trolls

Google might buy your patents to keep them out of the hands of litigious patent trolls that critics contend are hampering innovation.

For a two-week period next month, Google will accept submissions from patent owners and possibly bid on the patents as part of its Patent Purchase Promotion, wrote Allen Lo, the company's deputy general counsel for patents.

The idea is to keep some patents out of the hands of so-called patent trolls, or companies that use patent licensing and lawsuits as their primary source of revenue.

"Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls," Lo wrote. "Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner."

Google is building a portal to accept submissions, which will be taken from May 8 through 22. The company plans to evaluate the offers quickly and get back to patent owners by June 26. Payouts should happen by the end of August, it said.

To keep the program simple, Google is only accepting one patent per submission and not allowing inventors to sell a family of patents, according to its guidelines. The program also only applies to U.S. patents.

Google also isn't sure how much it will spend on the program, writing that "it will really be a function of how much interest we receive and the type of patents that are submitted." Purchased patents will be used by Google and possibly licensed by the company to others.

Presumably, that will mean Google won't try to extract high fees for licenses and threaten legal action, which patent trolls are frequently accused of doing.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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