Google’s ingenious tool to fight patent trolls, a tool Apple could use


Google and Intertrust today announced the launch of PatentShield, a new program that aims to help defend startups from patent litigation — in return for a stake in those companies.

The basic idea here is to give startups that join the program ownership of a selection of patents from Google’s and Intertrust’s portfolio that they can then use as a deterrent against potential patent litigation from established players in their fields. Google is seeding the program with a selection of its own patents and Intertrust, which itself has built up a patent portfolio around media streaming, IoT, security and other areas, will also give these startups access to some of its own patents and its intellectual property team.

If a startup gets sued, it can then choose patents from the PatentShield portfolio to defend itself by countersuing its opponents.

This truly is ingenious, a terrific use of Google’s patent portfolio. The cost to Google is relatively small, and it gives a big club and shield a startup can use to defend itself against patent trolls. There is potential for misuse, certainly, a chance for a startup to turn bully. Time will tell if that becomes an issue.

The benefit to Google is immense, leveraging existing patents to bring in a steady trickle of startup equity. Smart business. I think Apple should do the same thing. A perfect act of benevolence that’s well in Apple’s wheelhouse.

  • a steady trickle of startup equity

    I don’t see Apple doing anything like this. Not unless a consortium was created to provide patent protection sans equity grant(s).

    Companies like Google and Apple would still benefit by creating a thriving ecosystem of startups that they can acquire down the road…rather than take a piece of the startup from the get-go.

  • Draugminaion Formenghobel

    Aren’t trolls ‘non practicing entities’? IOW they cannot be countersued because there is nothing to sue them for because licensing and/or litigating their own patents is all they do.

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    • Jony0

      I logged in to say that exact thing. These NPEs don’t produce anything so they will never be using any patents, not even their own. There’s something I’m missing here. At best this would protect a startup from a big competing corporation that would want to intimidate, slow down or shut them down completely.

  • Scott Lewis

    Benevolence is trading equity for access to patents? Just sounds like business to me. We have patents, you pay us. In this case, you pay us an ownership stake.