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.