Microsoft Corp. signed up Thursday as the newest member of the Lot Network in order to help the technology industry combat patent trolls that stifle innovation.
The Lot Network, which has been around for quite some time already, counts more than 300 organizations among its members, including big names such as Google LLC, Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Netflix Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd.
The initiative tries to fight patent trolls by getting all of its members to commit to an agreement that ensures that whenever they sell a patent to a company known for trolling, each member gets a free license to use that patent.
Under the Lot Network’s rules, some of the new members are also allowed to come up with a cross-license their patents, assert them, sell them or do nothing at all. However, if any member sells a patent to a troll company, then all other members can license that patent for free.
“Microsoft has seen this problem as a major thing as of now,” Erich Andersen, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, wrote in a blog post. “the company also said that we have faced hundreds of meritless patent assertions and lawsuits over the years, and we want to do more to help others dealing with this issue. In most cases, the opportunists behind these assertions were not involved in the research and development of the ideas that came to be embodied in patents. Many do not even understand the technical concepts which has been described in the part of them.”
Under the program, Microsoft made 10,000 of its patents available for customers to use to defend themselves against litigation. The program also provides customers with a new set of time“uncapped indemnification coverage,” Microsoft said at the time.
The company also provides something which is called by the name as Springing Licenses, which are designed to protect customers when its patents are transferred to non-practicing entities. The licenses must need to ensure that those patents can never be asserted against Microsoft Azure customers if they are transferred.